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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

Ephesians 1



Other Authors
Verse 1

1.] χρ. ἰησ., as in the case of δοῦλος ἰησ. χρ., seems rather to denote possession, than to belong to ἀπόστολος and designate the person from whom sent.

διὰ θελ. θεοῦ] See on 1 Corinthians 1:1. As these words there have a special reference, and the corresponding ones in Galatians 1:1 also, so it is natural to suppose that here he has in his mind, hardly perhaps the especial subject of Ephesians 1:3-11, the will of the Father as the ground of the election of the church, but, which is more likely in a general introduction to the whole Epistle, the great subject of which he is about to treat, and himself as the authorized expositor of it.

τ. οὖσιν ἐν ἐφ.] On this, and on Ephesus, see Prolegomena. On ἁγίοις, see Ellicott’s note. It is used here in its widest sense, as designating the members of Christ’s visible Church, presumed to fulfil the conditions of that membership: cf. especially ch. Ephesians 5:3.

καὶ πιστοῖς ἐν χ. .] These words follow rather unusually, separated from τ. ἁγ. by the designation of abode: a circumstance which might seem to strengthen the suspicion against ἐν ἐφέσῳ, were not such transpositions by no means unexampled in St. Paul. See the regular order in Colossians 1:2. The omission of the article before πιστ. shews that the same persons are designated by both adjectives. Its insertion would not, however, prove the contrary.

ἐν χρ. ἰησ. belongs only to πιστοῖς: see Colossians 1:2 : faithful, i.e. believers, in (but ἐν does not belong to πιστός, as it often does to πιστεύω: see also Colossians 1:4) Christ Jesus. This, in its highest sense, ‘qui fidem præstant,’ not mere truth, or faithfulness, is imported: see reff. The ἁγίοις and πιστοῖς denote their spiritual life from its two sides—that of God who calls and sanctifies,—that of themselves who believe. So Bengel, ‘Dei est, sanctificare nos et sibi asserere; nostrum, ex Dei munere, credere.’ Stier remarks that by πιστ. ἐν χ. .,— ἁγίοις gets its only full and N. T. meaning. He also notices in these expressions already a trace of the two great divisions of the Epistle—God’s grace towards us, and our faith towards Him.

Verse 1-2

προσ εφεσιουσ


Verse 2

2.] After χάρις ὑμ. κ. εἰρ. supply rather εἴη than ἔστω; see 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:2; Jude 1:2. On the form of greeting, cf. Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3, &c.

The Socinian perversion of the words, ‘from God, who is the Father of us and of our Lord Jesus Christ,’ is decisively refuted by Titus 1:4, not to mention that nothing but the grossest ignorance of St. Paul’s spirit could ever allow such a meaning to be thought of. We must not fall into the error of refining too much, as Stier, on χάρις and εἰρήνη, as referring respectively to ἁγίοις and πιστοῖς: see (1) above, where these last epithets do not occur.

Verse 3

3.] Blessed (see note on Romans 9:5. Understand εἴη (Job 1:21; Psalms 112:2; or ἔστω, 2 Chronicles 9:8. Ellicott)—‘Be He praised.’ See a similar doxology, 2 Corinthians 1:3. Almost all St. Paul’s Epistles begin with some ascription of praise. That to Titus is the only exception (not Gal.: cf. Galatians 1:5). See also 1 Peter 1:3) be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 11:31; Colossians 1:3—also 1 Corinthians 15:24. Such is the simplest and most forcible sense of the words—as Thl., ἰδοὺ κ. θεὸς κ. πατὴρ τοῦ αὐτοῦ κ. ἑνὸς χριστοῦ· θεὸς μέν, ὡς σαρκωθέντος· πατὴρ δέ, ὡς θεοῦ λόγου. See John 20:17, from which saying of our Lord it is not improbable that the expression took its rise. Meyer maintains, ‘God who is also the Father of …:’ on the ground that only πατήρ, not θεός, requires a genitive supplied. But we may fairly reply that, if we come to strictness of construction, his meaning would require ὁ θεός, ὁ καὶ πατήρ. Harless’s objection, that on our rendering it must be ὁ θεός τε καὶ π., is well answered by Meyer from 1 Peter 2:25, τὸν ποιμένα κ. ἐπίσκοπον τῶν ψυχῶν ἡμῶν. Ellicott prefers Meyer’s view, but pronounces the other both grammatically and doctrinally tenable), who blessed (aor.: not ‘hath blessed:’ the historical fact in the counsels of the Father being thought of throughout the sentence. εὐλογητόςεὐλογήσαςεὐλογία—such was the ground-tone of the new covenant. As in creation God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply,’—so in redemption,—at the introduction of the covenant, “all families of the earth shall be BLESSED,”—at its completion,—“Come ye BLESSED of my Father.”

But God’s blessing is in facts—ours in words only) us (whom? not the Apostle only: nor Paul and his fellow-Apostles:—but, ALL CHRISTIANS—all the members of Christ. The καὶ ὑμεῖς of Ephesians 1:13 perfectly agrees with this: see there: but the κἀγώ of Ephesians 1:15 does not agree with the other views) in (instrumental or medial: the element in which, and means by which, the blessing is imparted) all (i.e. all possible—all, exhaustive, in all richness and fulness of blessing: cf. Ephesians 1:23 note) blessing of the Spirit (not merely, ‘spiritual (inward) blessing:’ πνευματικός in the N. T. always implies the working of the Holy Spirit, never bearing merely our modern inaccurate sense of spiritual as opposed to bodily. See 1 Corinthians 9:11, which has been thus misunderstood) in the heavenly places (so the expression, which occurs five times in this Epistle (see reff.), and no where else, can only mean: cf. Ephesians 1:20. It is not probable that St. Paul should have chosen an unusual expression for the purposes of this Epistle, and then used it in several different senses. Besides, as Harless remarks, the preposition ἐπί in composition with adjectives gives usually a local sense: e.g. in ἐπίγειος, ἐπιχθόνιος, ἐπουράνιος, as compared with γήϊνος, χθόνιος, οὐράνιος. Chrys., al., would understand it ‘heavenly blessings,’ in which case the Apostle would hardly have failed to add χαρίσμασιν, or ἀγαθοῖς, or the like.

But, with the above rendering, what is the sense? Our country, πολίτευμα, is in heaven, Philippians 3:20 : there our High Priest stands, blessing us. There are our treasures, Matthew 6:20-21, and our affections to be, Colossians 3:1 ff.: there our hope is laid up, Colossians 1:5 : our inheritance is reserved for us, 1 Peter 1:4. And there, in that place, and belonging to that state, is the εὐλογία, the gift of the Spirit, Hebrews 6:4, poured out on those who τὰ ἄνω φρονοῦσιν. Materially, we are yet in the body: but in the Spirit, we are in heaven—only waiting for the redemption of the body to be entirely and literally there.

I may once for all premise, that it will be impossible, in the limits of these notes, to give even a synopsis of the various opinions on the rich fulness of doctrinal expressions in this Epistle. I must state in each case that which appears to me best to suit the context, and those variations which must necessarily be mentioned, referring to such copious commentaries as Harless or Stier for further statement) in Christ (“the threefold ἐν after εὐλογήσας, has a meaning ever deeper and more precise: and should therefore be kept in translating. The blessing with which God has blessed us, consists and expands itself in all blessing of the Spirit—then brings in Heaven, the heavenly state in us, and us in it—then finally, CHRIST, personally, He Himself, who is set and exalted into Heaven, comes by the Spirit down into us, so that He is in us and we in Him of a truth, and thereby, and in so far, we are with Him in heaven.” Stier).

Verse 4

4.] According as ( καθώς explains and expands the foregoing—shewing wherein the εὐλογία consists as regards us, and God’s working towards us. Notice, that whereas Ephesians 1:3 has summarily included in the work of blessing the Three Persons, the FATHER bestowing the SPIRIT in CHRIST,—now the threefold cord, so to speak, is unwrapped, and the part of each divine Person separately described: cf. argument above) He selected us (reff. I render selected, in preference to elected, as better giving the middle sense,—‘chose for himself,’—and the ἐξ, that it is a choosing out of the world. The word (ref. Deut.) is an O. T. word, and refers to the spiritual Israel, as it did to God’s elect Israel of old. But there is no contrast between their election and ours: it has been but one election throughout—an election in Christ, and to holiness on God’s side—and involving accession to God’s people (cf. πιστεύσαντες, Ephesians 1:13, and εἴγε ἐπιμένετε τῇ πίστει, Colossians 1:23) on ours. See Ellicott’s note on the word, and some excellent remarks in Stier, p. 62, on the divine and human sides of the doctrine of election as put forward in this Epistle) in Him (i.e. in Christ, as the second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:22), the righteous Head of our race. In Him, in one wide sense, were all mankind elected, inasmuch as He took their flesh and blood, and redeemed them, and represents them before the Father: but in the proper and final sense, this can be said only of His faithful ones, His Church, who are incorporated in Him by the Spirit. But in any sense, all God’s election is in HIM only) before the foundation of the world ( πρὸ κατ. κ. only here in St. Paul: we have ἀπὸ κατ. κ. in Hebrews 4:3; his expressions elsewhere are πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων, 1 Corinthians 2:7,— ἀπὸ τ. αἰ., Ephesians 3:9. Colossians 1:26,— πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων, 2 Timothy 1:9,— χρόνοις αἰωνίοις, Romans 16:25,— ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς, 2 Thessalonians 2:13.

Stier remarks on the necessary connexion of the true doctrines of creation and redemption: how utterly irreconcilable pantheism is with this, God’s election before laying the foundation of the world, of His people in His Son), that we should be (infinitive of the purpose, see Winer, edn. 3, p. 267, § 45. 3. (In edn. 6, the treatment of the inf. of the purpose without the art. τοῦ, seems to have been inadvertently omitted.) The Apostle seems to have Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:2, before his mind; in both which places the same construction occurs) holy and blameless (the positive and negative sides of the Christian characterἅγιοι, of the general positive category,— ἄμωμοι, of the non-existence of any exception to it. So Plut. Pericl., p. 173 (Mey.), βίος καθαρὸς κ. ἀμίαντος. This holiness and unblamableness must not be understood of that justification by faith by which the sinner stands accepted before God: it is distinctly put forth here (see also ch. Ephesians 5:27) as an ultimate result as regards us, and refers to that sanctification which follows on justification by faith, and which is the will of God respecting us, 1 Thessalonians 4:7. See Stier’s remarks against Harless, p. 71) before Him (i.e. in the deepest verity of our being—throughly penetrated by the Spirit of holiness, bearing His searching eye, ch. Ephesians 5:27 : but at the same time implying an especial nearness to His presence and dearness to Him—and bearing a foretaste of the time when the elect shall be ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου τοῦ θεοῦ, Revelation 7:15. Cf. Colossians 1:22, note) in love. There is considerable dispute as to the position and reference of these words. Three different ways are taken. (1) Œcum., &c., join them with ἐξελέξατο. I do not see, with most Commentators, the extreme improbability of the qualifying clause following the verb after so long an interval, when we take into account the studied solemnity of the passage, and remember that ἐν χριστῷ in the last verse was separated nearly as far from its verb εὐλογήσας. My objection to this view is of a deeper kind: see below. (2) The Syr., Chrys., Thdrt., Thl., Bengel, Lachm., Harless, Olsh., Mey., De W., Stier, Ellic., all., join them with προορίσας in the following verse. To this, in spite of all that has been so well said in its behalf, there is an objection which seems to me insuperable. It is, that in the whole construction of this long sentence, the verbs and participles, as natural in a solemn emphatic enumeration of God’s dealings with His people, precede their qualifying clauses: e.g. εὐλογήσας, Ephesians 1:3, ἐξελέξατο, Ephesians 1:4, ἐχαρίτωσεν, Ephesians 1:6, ἐπερίσσευσεν, Ephesians 1:8, γνωρίσας, Ephesians 1:9, προέθετο ib., ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι, Ephesians 1:10. In no one case, except the necessary one of a relative qualification ( ἧς, Ephesians 1:6, and again Ephesians 1:8), does the verb follow its qualifying clause: and for this reason, that the verbs themselves are emphatic, and not the conditions under which they subsist. “Blessed be God who DID all this, &c.” He may have fore-ordained, and did fore-ordain, in love: and this is implied in what follows, from κατὰ τ. εὐδ. to ἠγαπημένῳ: but the point brought out, as that for which we are to bless Him, is not that in love He fore-ordained us, but the fact of that fore-ordination itself: not His attribute, but His act. It is evidently no answer to this, to bring forward sentences elsewhere in which ἐν ἀγάπῃ stands first, such as ch. Ephesians 3:18, where the spirit of the passage is different. (3) The vulg., Ambrst., Erasm., Luth., Castal., Beza, Calvin, Grot., all., join them, as in the text, with εἶναιἀμώμους κατ. αὐτοῦ. This has been strongly impugned by the last-mentioned set of Commentators: mainly on the ground that the addition of ἐν ἀγάπῃ to ἁγ. κ. ἀμώμ. κατ. αὐτοῦ, is ungrammatical,—is flat and superfluous,—and that in neither ch. Ephesians 5:27, nor Colossians 1:22, have these adjectives any such qualification. But in answer, I would submit, that in the first place, as against the construction of ἐν ἁγ. with ἀμώμ., the objection is quite futile, for our arrangement does not thus construct it, but adds it as a qualifying clause to the whole εἶναιαὐτοῦ. Next, I hold the qualification to be in the highest degree solemn and appropriate. ἀγάπη, that which man lost at the Fall, but which God is, and to which God restores man by redemption, is the great element in which, as in their abode and breathing-place, all Christian graces subsist, and in which, emphatically, all perfection before God must be found. And so, when the Apostle, ch. Ephesians 4:16, is describing the glorious building up of the body, the Church, he speaks of its increasing εἰς οἰκοδομὴν ἑαυτοῦ ἐν ἀγάπῃ. And it is his practice, in this and the parallel Epistle, to add ἐν ἀγάπῃ as the completion of the idea of Christian holiness—cf. ch. Ephesians 3:18; Colossians 2:2, also ch. Ephesians 4:2; Ephesians 5:2. With regard to the last objection,—in both the places cited, the adjectives are connected with the verb παραστῆσαι, expressed therefore in the abstract as the ultimate result of sanctification in the sight of the Father, not, as here, referring to the state of sanctification, as consisting and subsisting in love.

Verse 5

5.] Having predestined us (subordinate to the ἐξελέξατο: see Romans 8:29-30, where the steps are thus laid down in succession;— οὓς προέγνω, καὶ προώρισενοὓς προώρισεν, τούτους καὶ ἐκάλεσεν. Now the ἐκλογή must answer in this rank to the προέγνω, and precede the προώρισεν. Stier remarks well, “In God, indeed, all is one; but for our anthropomorphic way of speaking and treating, which is necessary to us, there follows on His first decree to adopt and to sanctify, the nearer decision, how and by what this shall be brought about, because it could only be thus brought about.” προ,—as Pelagius (in Harless),—“ad eos refertur qui antea non fuerunt, et priusquam fierent, de his cogitatum est et postea substiterunt”) unto adoption (so that we should become His sons, in the blessed sense of being reconciled to Him and having a place in His spiritual family,—should have the remission of our sins, the pledge of the Spirit, the assurance of the inheritance) through Jesus Christ (THE SON of God, in and by whom, elementally and instrumentally, our adoption consists, cf. Romans 8:29, προώρισεν συμμόρφους τῆς εἰκόνος τ. υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ, εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν πρωτότοκον ἐν πολλοῖς ἀδελφοῖς) to Him (the Father: see Colossians 1:20, διʼ αὐτοῦ (Christ) ἀποκαταλλάξαι τὰ πάντα εἰς αὐτόν (the Father). So Thdrt., all., Harl., Olsh., Meyer, Stier: and rightly, for the Son could not be in this sentence the terminus ultimus (the whole reference being to the work and purpose of the Father); and had this been intended, as Harl. remarks, we must have had καὶ εἰς αὐτόν. De W., who, after Anselm, Tho.-Aq., Castal., all., refers it to the Son, fails to answer this objection of Harl.’s. But now arise two questions: (1) the meaning. Does it merely represent ἑαυτῷ, a dativus commodi? So Grot., al., but it cannot be, after the insertion of the special διὰ ἰ. χ., that the sentence should again return to the general purpose. It seems much better, to join it with διὰ ἰ. χ. as in Colossians 1:20, above: and so Harl., but too indefinitely, taking it only as a phrase common with the Apostle and not giving its full import. As in Colossians 1:20, the εἰς αὐτόν, though thus intimately connected with διʼ αὐτοῦ, depends on ἀποκαταλλάξαι, so here it must depend on υἱοθεσίαν, and its import must be ‘to (into) Himself,’—i.e. so that we should be partakers of the divine nature: cf. 2 Peter 1:4. (2) Should we read αὐτόν or αὑτόν? It will depend on whether we refer this clause, from διὰ to κατά, to the Father as its subject, or consider it as a continuation of the Apostle’s thanksgiving. And the latter is much the most likely; for had the former been the case, we should probably have had, instead of διὰ ἰησ. χριστοῦ, διὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ ἰ. χρ., so that reference to the Father might still be kept up. I decide therefore for αὐτόν, as Thdrt. certainly read, or his remark, τὸ δὲ εἰς αὐτόν, τὸν πατέρα λέγει, would have been needless. And so Erasm., Wetst., Lachm., Harl., Olsh., Meyer. Then αὐτοῦ in Ephesians 1:6 naturally takes it up again) according to (in pursuance of) the good pleasure (it is disputed whether εὐδοκία has here merely this general meaning of beneplacitum, or that of benevolentia. Harl. (see also Ellicott) examines thoroughly the use of the word by the LXX, and decides in favour of the latter, alleging especially, that a mere assertion of doctrine would be out of place in an ascription of thanksgiving. But surely this is a most unfortunate position. The facts on which doctrines rest are here the very subjects of the Apostle’s thanksgiving: and the strict parallels of Matthew 11:26, Luke 10:21, should have kept him from adducing it. Granting, as we must, both senses to εὐδοκεῖν and εὐδοκία, the context must in each case determine which is meant. And its testimony here is clear. It is, as De W. remarks, not in προωρισμένοι, but in προορίσας, that the object, to which εὐδοκία refers, is to be sought: and the subsequent recurrences to the same idea in Ephesians 1:9 and Ephesians 1:11 point out that it is not the Father’s benevolentia, but His beneplacitum, which is in the Apostle’s mind. And so Meyer, De W., Stier, and Ellic. This beneplacitum WAS benevolentia, Ephesians 1:6; but that does not affect the question. See, besides Harl., a long note in Fritz. on Romans 2. p. 369) of His will,

Verse 6

6.] to (with a view to, as the purpose of the predestination) the praise (by men and angels—all that can praise) of the glory of His grace (beware of the miserable hendiadys, ‘His glorious grace,’ by which all the richness and depth of meaning are lost. The end, God’s end, in our predestination to adoption, is, that the glory,—glorious nature, brightness and majesty, and kindliness and beauty,—of His grace might be an object of men and angels’ praise: both as it is in HIM, ineffable and infinite,—and exemplified in us, its objects; see below, Ephesians 1:12. “Owing to the defining genitive, the article (before δόξης) is not indispensable: see Winer, edn. 6, § 19. 2, b: compare Madvig, Synt. § 10. 2.” Ellic.) which (there is some difficulty in deciding between the readings, ἐν ᾗ, and ἧς. The former would be the most naturally substituted for an attraction found difficult: and the existence of , as a reading, seems to point this way. The latter, on the other hand, might perhaps be written by a transcriber carelessly, χάριτος having just preceded. But I own this does not seem to me very probable. A relative following a substantive, is as often in a different case, as in the same: and there could be no temptation to a transcriber to write ἧς here, which could hardly occur at all unless by attraction, a construction to which transcribers certainly were not prone. I therefore, with Lachm., Mey., Rück., al., adopt ἧς. Considerations of the exigencies of the sense, alleged by Harl., al., do not come into play unless where external authorities are balanced (which is the case here), and probabilities of alteration also (which is not) He bestowed upon us (the meaning of χαριτόω is disputed. The double meaning of χάρις,—favour, grace bestowed, and that which ensures favour, viz. grace inherent, beauty,—has been supposed to give a double meaning to the verb also,—to confer grace, and to render gracious, or beautiful, or acceptable. And this latter sense is adopted, here and in Luke 1:28 (where see note), by many,—e.g. by Chrys., τουτέστιν, οὐ μόνον ἁμαρτημάτων ἀπήλλαξεν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐπεράστους ἐποίησε,—Erasm., Luth., all. But the meaning of χάρις, on which this is founded, does not seem to occur in the N. T., certainly not in St. Paul. And χαριτόω, both here and in I. c., according to the analogy of such verbs, will be ‘to bestow grace.’ Another reason for this sense is the indefinite aorist, referring to an act of God once past in Christ, not to an abiding state which He has brought about in us. This, as usual, has been almost universally overlooked, and the perfect sense given. Another still is, the requirement of the context. Harl. well remarks, that, according to the sense ‘bestowed grace,’ Ephesians 1:7 is the natural answer to the question, ‘How hath He bestowed grace?’ whereas, on the other rendering, it has only a mediate connexion with this verse. Stier would unite both meanings; but surely this is impossible. The becoming χαρίεντες may be a consequence of being κεχαριτωμένοι, but must be quite independent of its verbal meaning. Conyb. remarks that it may be literally rendered ‘His favour, wherewith He favoured us:’ but ‘favour’ would not reach deep enough for the sense) in (see above on ἐν χριστῷ, Ephesians 1:3. Christ is our Head and including Representative) the Beloved (i.e. Christ: = υἱὸς τῆς ἀγάπης αὐτοῦ, Colossians 1:13. He is God’s ἠγαπημένος κατʼ ἐξοχήν,—cf. Matthew 3:17; John 3:16; 1 John 4:9-11).

Verse 7

7.] Now the Apostle passes, with ἐν ᾧ, to the consideration of the ground of the church in the SON (7–12): see the synopsis above. But the Father still continues the great subject of the whole;—only the reference is now to the Son. In whom (see on ἐν χρ. Ephesians 1:3—cf. Romans 3:24) We have (objective—‘there is for us.’ But not without a subjective implied import, as spoken of those who truly have it—have laid hold of it: “are ever needing and ever having it,” Eadie) the Redemption (from God’s wrath—or rather from that which brought us under God’s wrath, the guilt and power of sin, Matthew 1:21. The article expresses notoriety—‘of which we all know,’—‘of which the law testified, and the prophets spoke’) through (as the instrument:—a further fixing of the ἐν ᾧ) His blood (which was the price paid for that redemption, Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 6:20; both the ultimate climax of His obedience for us, Philippians 2:8, and, which is most in view here,—the propitiation, in our nature, for the sin of the world, Romans 3:25; Colossians 1:20. It is a noteworthy observation of Harless here, that the choice of the word, the BLOOD of Christ, is of itself a testimony to the idea of expiation having been in the writer’s mind. Not the death of the victim, but its BLOOD, was the typical instrument of expiation. And I may notice that in Philippians 2:8, where Christ’s obedience, not His atonement, is spoken of, there is no mention of His shedding His Blood, only of the act of His Death), the remission (not “overlooking” ( πάρεσιν); see note on Romans 3:25) of (our) transgressions (explanation of τ. ἀπολύτρωσιν: not to be limited, but extending to all riddance from the practice and consequences of our transgressions: at least equipollent with ἀπολύτρωσιν:—so Thdrt., διʼ ἐκείνου γὰρ τὰς τῶν ἁμαρτημάτων ἀποθέμενοι κηλῖδας, κ. τῆς τοῦ τυράννου δουλείας ἀπαλλαγέντες, τοὺς τῆς εἰκόνος τῆς θείας ἀπελάβομεν χαρακτῆρας. This against Harless), according to the riches (Ellic. compares Plato, Euthyphr. 12 A, τρυφᾷς ὑπὸ πλούτου τῆς σοφίας) of His grace (this alone would prevent ἄφεσις applying to merely the forgiveness of sins. As Passavant (in Stier), “We have in this grace not only redemption from misery and wrath, not only forgiveness,—but we find in it the liberty, the glory, the inheritance of the children of God,—the crown of eternal life: cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9”),

Verse 8

8.] which he shed abundantly (‘caused to abound:’ ἀφθόνως ἐξέχεε, Thl.: Thdrt. has the same idea, ἀναβλύζει γὰρ τὰς τοῦ ἐλέους πηγάς, κ. τούτοις ἡμᾶς περικλύζει τοῖς ῥεύμασιν. The E. V. is wrong, ‘wherein He hath abounded:’ no such construction of attraction of a dative being found in the N. T. Calvin and Beza would take ἧς not as an attraction, but as the genitive after ἐπερίσ. as in Luke 15:17, ‘of which He was full, &c.’ But this does not agree well with the γνωρίσας, &c. below. As little can the ‘quæ superabundavit’ of the Vulg. (and Syr.) stand: the attraction of the nominative being scarcely possible, and this being still more inconsistent with γνωρίσας) forth to us in all (possible) wisdom and prudence (with E. V., De Wette, &c., I would refer these words to God. On the other hand, Harless (with whom are Olsh., Stier, Ellic., al.) maintains, that neither πάσῃ nor φρονήσει will allow this. “ πᾶς,” he says, “never = summus,—never betokens the intension, but only the extension, never the power, but the frequency,—and answers to our ‘every,’ i.e. all possible;—so that, when joined to abstracts, it presents them to us as concrete: πᾶσα δύναμις, ‘every power that we know of,’ ‘that exists;’— πᾶσα ὑπομονή, every kind of endurance that we know of;— πᾶσα εὐσέβεια, &c. Now it is allowable enough, to put together all excellences of one species, and allege them as the motive of a human act, because we can conceive of men as wanting in any or all of them: but not so with God, of whom the Apostle, and all of us, conceive as the Essence of all perfection. We may say of God, ‘in Him is all wisdom,’ but not, ‘He did this or that in all wisdom.’ ” “Again,” he continues, “ φρόνησις cannot be ascribed to God.” And this he maintains,—not by adopting the view of Wolf, al., that it is practical knowledge, which suits neither the context nor usage,—nor that of Anselm, Bengel, al., that σοφ. is ‘de præsentibus,’ φρον. ‘de futuris,’—but by understanding σοφία of the normal collective state of the spirit, with reference especially to the intelligence, which last is expressed according to its various sides, by the words so often found conjoined with σοφίασύνεσις, φρόνησις, γνῶσις. So that φρόνησις, as a one-sided result of σοφία, cannot be predicated of God, but only of men. According to this then, ἐν πάσ. σ. κ. φρ. must refer to that in the bestowal of which on us He hath made His grace to abound, so that we should thereby become σοφοὶ κ. φρόνιμοι:—as Olsh., ἵνα ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ κ. φρονήσει περιπατῶμεν. Chrys. joins the words with γνωρίσας, understanding them, however, of us, not of God: ἐν π. σοφ. κ. φρ., φησί, γνωρίσας ἡμ. τὸ μ. τ. θ. αὐττουτέστι, σοφοὺς κ. φρονίμους ποιήσας τὴν ὄντως σοφίας, τὴν ὄντως φρόνησιν. But see, on such arrangement, the note on ἐν ἀγάπῃ, Ephesians 1:4.

Stier quotes from Passavant: “In the living knowledge of the thoughts and ways of God we first get a sure and clear light upon ourselves and our ways, a light cast from above upon the import and aim of this our earthly life in the sight of God and His eternity. Here is the true wisdom of the heart, the true prudence of life.” But against this view, De W. alleges, (1) that φρόνησις can be as well predicated of God as γνῶσις, Romans 11:33, and is actually thus predicated, Proverbs 3:19; Jeremiah 10:12 LXX, of His creative wisdom, which is analogous to His redemptive wisdom. (2) that God’s absolute wisdom is not here treated of, but His relative wisdom, as apparent in the use of means subservient to its end: so that ἐν πάσῃ would mean ‘in all wisdom thereto belonging,’ as Jer.: ‘Deus in omni sapientia sua atque prudentia, juxta quod consequi poterant, myst rium revelavit.’ And he compares ἡ πολυποίκιλος σοφία τ. θ. ch. Ephesians 3:10.

These last arguments are weighty, as shewing the legitimacy of the application to God: but even beyond them is that which construction and usage furnish.

It would be hardly possible, did no other consideration intervene, to refer this ἑν π. σ. κ. φρ. to other than the subject of the sentence,—cf. ἧς ἐχαρ. ἡμᾶς ἐν τῷ ἠγαπ. above. I therefore decide (still; after reconsideration of Ellicott’s note) for the application to God, not to us. It was in His manifold wisdom and prudence, manifested in all ways possible for us, that He poured out His grace upon us: and this wisdom and prudence was especially exemplified in that which follows, the notification to us of His hidden will, &c. In Colossians 1:9, the reference is clearly different: see note there), having made known ( γνωρίσας is explicative of ἐπερίσσευσεν, just as προορίσας is of ἐξελέξατο above:—‘in that He made known.’ This ‘making known,’ is not merely the information of the understanding, but the revelation, in its fullness, to the heart) to us (not, the Apostles, but Christians in general, as throughout the passage) the mystery (reff. and Romans 16:25. St. Paul ever represents the redemptive counsel of God as a mystery, i.e. a design hidden in His counsels, until revealed to mankind in and by Christ. So that his use of μυστήρ. has nothing in common, except the facts of concealment and revelation, with the mysteries of the heathen world, nor with any secret tradition over and above the gospel as revealed in the Scriptures. All who vitally know that, i.e. all the Christian church are the initiated: and all who have the word, read or preached, may vitally know it. Only the world without, the unbelieving, are the uninitiated) of (objective genitive, ‘the material of which mystery was, &c.’) His will (that which He purposed), according to His good pleasure (belongs to γνωρίσας, and specifies it: not to θελήμ. ( τοῦ κατὰ τ. ε. αὐ.): i.e. So that the revelation took place in a time and manner consonant to God’s eternal pleasure—viz. εἰς οἰκον., &c. On εὐδοκ., see above Ephesians 1:5) which He purposed (reff.) in Himself ( ἐν αὐτῷ is read, and referred (1) to Christ, by Chrys. and the ff., Anselm, Bengel, Luther, all. But this is impossible, because ἐν τῷ χριστῷ is introduced with the proper name below, which certainly would not occur on the second mention after ἐν αὐτῷ, in the same reference: (2) to the Father, by Harless. But this is equally impossible. For αὐτῷ to refer to the subject of the sentence, we must have the mind of the reader removed one step from that subject by an intermediate idea supervening, as in κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν αὐτοῦ. Had this been κατὰ τ. πρόθεσιν αὐτοῦ, the reference would have been legitimate. But when, as here, no such idea intervenes,— ἣν προέθετο ἐν αὐτῷ—the subject is directly before the mind, and αὐτός, not being reflective but demonstrative, must point to some other person: who in this case can only be Christ. Our only resource then is to read αὑτῷ) in order to (belongs to προέθετο, not to γνωρίσας. Very many ancient Commentators and the Vulg. and E. V., take εἰς wrongly as = ἐν, by which the whole sense is confused. Hardly less confusing is the rendering of Erasm., Calv., Est., al., usque ad tempus dispensations, thereby introducing into προέθετο the complex idea of decreed and laid up, instead of the simple one which the context requires) the œconomy of the fulfilment of the seasons (after long and careful search, I am unable to find a word which will express the full meaning of οἰκονομια. The difficulty of doing so will be better seen below, after τὸ πλήρ. τῶν καιρ. has been dealt with. This expression is by ro means = τὸ πλ. τοῦ χρόνου in Galatians 4:4, nor to be equalized with it, as Harl. attempts to do, by saying that many καιροί.’ make up a χρόνος. The mistake which has misled almost all the Commentators here, and which as far as I know Stier has been the only one to expose, has been that of taking τὸ πλ. τῶν καιρῶν as a fixed terminus a quo, = the coming of Christ, as Galatians 4:4,—whereas usage, and the sense, determine it to mean, the whole duration of the Gospel times; cf. especially ch. Ephesians 2:7, ἐν τοῖς αἰῶσιν τοῖς ἐπερχομένοις: 1 Corinthians 10:11, τὰ τέλη τῶν αἰώνων, and Luke 21:24, καιροὶ ἐθνῶν, Acts 1:7; Acts 3:19; Acts 3:21; 1 Timothy 2:6. Thus τὸ πλ. τ. καιρῶν will mean, the filling up, completing, fulfilment, of the appointed seasons, carrying on during the Gospel dispensation. Now, belonging to, carried on during, this fulfilling of the periods or seasons, is the οἰκονομία here spoken of. And, having regard to the derivation and usage of the word, it will mean, the giving forth of the Gospel under God’s providential arrangements. First and greatest of all, HE is the οἰκονόμος: then, above all others, His divine Son: and as proceeding from the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit—and then in subordinate degrees, every one who οἰκονομίαν πεπίστευται, i.e. all Christians, even to the lowest, as οἰκονόμοι ποικίλης χἀριτος θεοῦ, 1 Peter 4:10. So that our best rendering will be, œconomy, leaving the word to be explained in teaching. The genitive καιρῶν is one of belonging or appurtenance as in κρίσις μεγάλης ἡμέρας, Jude 1:6), to sum up (the infinitive belongs to and specifies εὐδοκίαν;— ἣνκαιρῶν having been logically parenthetical,—and explains what that εὐδοκία was. The verb, here as in the only other place in the N. T. where it occurs (ref.), signifies to comprehend, gather together, sum up. As there the whole law is comprehended in one saying, so here all creation is comprehended, summed up, in Christ. But it can hardly be supposed that the ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι has express reference here to Him as the κεφαλή: for 1) this is not predicated of Him till below, Ephesians 1:22;—2) the verb is from κεφάλαιον, not from κεφαλή; so that such reference would be only a play on the word:—3) the compound verb, as here, is used in Rom. l. c. in the simple ordinary sense. The ἀνα-applies to the gathering of all individuals, not to any restoration (Syr., vulg., Olsh. (Ellic. in part), al.), in which τὰ ἐπὶ τοῖς οὐρανοῖς would have no share. See more below: and cf. the (2), Colossians 1:19-20, and note there) all things (neuter, and to be literally so taken: not as a masculine, which, when a neuter is so understood, must be implied in the context, as in Galatians 3:22 :—the whole creation, see Colossians 1:20) in the Christ (q. d., His Christ. The article is not expressed with χριστός after a preposition, unless with some such special meaning: see below Ephesians 1:12), the things in (lit. on; see below) the heavens (universal—not to be limited to the angels (Chrys., &c.), nor spirits of the just (Beza, al.), still less to be understood of the Jews, τὰ ἐπὶ τ. γῆς being the Gentiles (Locke, &c.). Chrys.’s words are so far true, μίαν κεφαλὴν ἅπασιν ἐπέθηκε τὸ κατὰ σάρκα χριστόν, κ. ἀγγέλοις κ. ἀνθρώποις· … τοῖς μὲν τὸ κατὰ σάρκα, τοῖς δὲ τὸν θεὸν λόγον—but the Apostle’s meaning extends much further. The rec. ἐν τ. οὐρ. seems to have been adopted from Colossians 1:20. There also ἐπί is read, but by L and a few mss. only, and evidently from our passage. The construction is a common one: cf. ἐπὶ χθονί Il. γ. 195, ἐπὶ πύλῃσι, ib. 149. It is strange to find in Ellicott a defence of the rec. ἐν, grounded on the fact that “ ἐπί is never joined in the N. T. with οὐρανός or οὐρανοί, and that ἐν οὐρανῷ and ἐπὶ γῆς are invariably found in antithesis.” Such an argument would sweep away all ἅπαξ λεγόμενα of construction, and break down the significance of all exceptional usage) and the things on the earth (general, as before τὰ πάντα. All creation is summed up in Christ: it was all the result of the Love of the Father for the Son (see my Doctrine of Divine Love, Serm, i.), and in the Son it is all regarded by the Father. The vastly different relation to Christ of the different parts of creation, is no objection to this union in Him: it affects, as Beng. on Romans 8:19, “pro suo quodque genus captu.” The Church, of which the Apostle here mainly treats, is subordinated to Him in the highest degree of conscious and joyful union: those who are not His spiritually, in mere subjugation, yet consciously; the inferior tribes of creation, unconsciously: but objectively, all are summed up in Him);

Verse 11

11.] in Him (emphatic repetition, to connect more closely with Him the following relative clause), in whom we (Christians, all, both Jews and Gentiles; who are resolved below into ἡμεῖς and ὑμεῖς: see on Ephesians 1:12) were also (besides having, by His purpose, the revelation of His will, Ephesians 1:9.

Not ‘we also,’ καὶ ἡμεῖς, as vulg. “in quo etiam nos …,” nor as E. V. ‘in whom also’) taken for His inheritance ( κληρόω, in its ordinary meaning, ‘to appoint by lot,’—then ‘to appoint’ generally: κληροῦμαι, mid. ‘to get, or possess any thing by such appointment.’ The aorist passive, if ever taken in a middle sense, cannot be thus understood here, on account of εἰς τὸ εἶναι following. Confining ourselves therefore to the strict passive sense, we have three meanings apparently open to us: (1) ‘we were appointed by lot.’ So Chrys., Thl., vulg. (sorte vocati sumus), Erasm. (sorte electi sumus). Chrys. supposes this apparently fortuitous choice to be corrected by προορ. κ. τ. λ. following: ‘we were allotted, yet not by chance:’ others justify it, as Estius, ‘quia in ipsis electis nulla est causa cur eligantur præ aliis.’ But to this Meyer properly opposes the fact, that we are never by St. Paul said to be chosen by any such θεία τύχη, but only by the gracious purpose of God: cf. Plato, Legg. vi. p. 759 c: κληροῦν οὕτω τῇ θείᾳ τύχῃ ἀποδιδόντα. (2) ‘we were made partakers of the inheritance,’ i.e. of the Kingdom of God, as Israel of Canaan,—Acts 26:18 : Colossians 1:12. This is adopted by Harl., and Mey., and many others. But it seems without authority from usage: the instance which Mey. quotes from Pind., Ol. viii. 19, κληροῦν τινι, not bearing this rendering. And besides, the context is against it: ἐκληρώθημεν being followed, as Stier observes, not by εἰς τὸ ἔχειν ἡμ., but by εἰς τὸ εἶναι ἡμ., and thus pointing at something which ‘we’ are to become, not to possess. Another reason, see below. (3) ‘we were made an (God’s) inheritance.’ This (Grot., Beng., Olsh., De W., Stier, Ellic., al.) seems to me the only rendering by which philology and the context are alike satisfied. We thus take the ordinary meaning of κληρόω, to assign as a κλῆρος: and the prevalent idea of Israel in the O. T. is as a people whom the Lord chose for His inheritance; cf. Deuteronomy 4:20, ὑμᾶς ἔλαβεν ὁ θεὸςεἶναι αὐτῷ λαὸν ἔγκληρον: ib. Deuteronomy 9:29; Deuteronomy 32:9; Deuteronomy 3 Kings 8:51, al. Flatt cites from Philo (qu. ref.?), ᾧ προσκεκλήρωνται, διότι τοῦ σύμπαντος ἀνθρώπων γένους ἀπενεμήθη οἵα τις ἀπαρχὴ τῷ ποιητῇ κ. πατρί. Olsh. calls this ‘the realization in time of the ἐκλογὴ ἐν χριστῷ spoken of before,’ viz. by God taking to Himself a people out of all nations for an inheritance—first in type and germ in the O. T., then fully and spiritually in the N. T. This interpretation will be further substantiated by the note on Ephesians 1:12 below), having been predestined (why mention this again? Harl. maintains that it here applies to the Jews only, and refers to their selection (according to him to possess the inheritance) by God: but this cannot be, because as remarked above, ἡμᾶς, which first brings up the difference, does not occur yet. The true answer to the question lies in this,—that here first the Apostle comes to the idea of the universal Church, the whole Israel of God, and therefore here brings forward again that fore-ordination which he had indeed hinted at generally in Ephesians 1:5, but which properly belonged to Israel, and is accordingly predicated of the Israel of the Church) according to (in pursuance of) the purpose (repeated again (see above) from Ephesians 1:9 : cf. also ch. Ephesians 3:11) of Him who works (energizes; but especially in and among material previously given, as here, in His material creation, and in the spirits of all flesh, also His creation) all things (not to be restricted, as Grot., to the matter here in hand, but universally predicated) according to the counsel of His will (the βουλή here answers to the εὐδοκία, Ephesians 1:5,—the definite shape which the will assumes when decided to action—implying in this case the union of sovereign will with infinite wisdom),

Verse 12

12.] in order that we (here first expressed, as distinguished from ὑμεῖς, Ephesians 1:13 : see below) should be to the praise of His glory (see on Ephesians 1:6 and Ephesians 1:14 below), namely, we who have before hoped in the Christ (we Jewish-Christians, who, before the Christ came, looked forward to His coming, waiting for the consolation of Israel: cf. especially Acts 28:20, ἕνεκεν γὰρ τῆς ἐλπίδος τοῦ ἰσραὴλ τὴν ἅλυσιν ταύτην περίκειμαι—and Acts 26:6-7. The objection, that so few thus looked, is fully met by the largeness of St. Paul’s own expression in this last passage. But this whole interpretation requires defending against opponents. First, the verse is variously punctuated. Harl., and Olsh. even more decidedly, read it εἰς τὸ εἶναι ἡμᾶς, εἰς ἔπαινον δόξ. αὐ., τοὺς προηλπ. ἐν τῷ χρ. But to this it may be objected, (1) that εἰς ἔπ. δόξης αὐ., occurring as it does again at the end of the whole passage as the final aim of all, cannot with any probability be here merely parenthetical: (2) that above, Ephesians 1:6, and below, Ephesians 1:14, it, as well as the predestination, has reference to the fulness of the Gospel, not to incomplete prefatory hope in Christ (this would be no objection to De W.’s view: see below): (3) that thus we should require some demonstrative expression preceding, to mark out these ἡμᾶς, such as ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἐκληρώθημεν ἡμεῖς οἱ προορισθέντες. The objections which Harl. brings against the ordinary construction are implicitly answered in this exposition. They rest mainly on the mistake of referring ἐκληρώθ. προορισθέντες to the Jewish Christians: see above. De W. denies all reference to Jews and Gentiles,—(1) from the analogy of words compounded with προ- ( προ- ακούειν, Colossians 1:5, προλέγειν, Galatians 5:21; 1 Thessalonians 3:4, προγράφειν, Romans 15:4, προεπαγγέλλεσθαι, Romans 1:2), which he says indicate always priority as to the thing spoken of (in his idea here merely, ‘hope previous to the fulfilment of that hope,’ i.e. προ- has no meaning, for all hope must be this), not in comparison with other persons: but (a) this is not true—cf. προελθόντες, Acts 20:13, προέχεσθαι, προηγεῖσθαι, προτιθέναι, προάγειν, προπορεύεσθαι,—and (b) if it were, it does not touch our interpretation—hoped before (Christ’s coming):—(2) from Ephesians 1:13 saying nothing peculiar to Gentile Christians (but see there): (3) from καὶ ὑμᾶς, in ch. Ephesians 2:1, and Colossians 1:21, not meaning Gentile Christians, but being merely addressed to the readers generally. But in both these places it is so, merely because other things or persons have just been treated of: whereas here he would understand this ἡμᾶς as including the ὑμεῖς, thus depriving it of the force which it has there).

Verse 13

13.] What is the construction? Have we but one sentence, ἐν ᾧἐσφραγίσθητε, the two participial clauses being parallel, and both belonging to the verb? so the ff., Beng., De W., Ellic., (by whom the view is well defended and explained,) &c. But this seems to me impossible, from the arrangement. It would require the omission of the second ἐν ᾧ, or the placing of the καὶ ὑμεῖς after ἀκούσαντες. As the sentence now stands, the second ἐν ᾧ καί must begin a new sentence, and surely cannot be the mere rhetorical repetition of the first. This being so, we must understand some verb to complete ἐν ᾧ καὶ ὑμεῖς. Nothing can be more usual or more simple than to supply ἐστέ: nothing commoner than ἐν χριστῷ εἶναι: nothing better suited to the context than, after putting forward the Jewish believers, to turn to the Gentiles, ‘Ye also have your part in Christ—our prominence does not exclude you.’ Some supply ἠλπίκατε (Erasm.-ver., Calv., Est., al.), some ἐκληρώθητε (Erasm.-par., Harl., Olsh., al.); but the other is far simpler; and I cannot see how it deserves the charge which Ellicott brings against it, of being “a statement singularly frigid and out of harmony with the linked and ever-rising character of the context.” It is quite accounted for as above, as forming a link in the context, whose character is well thus described. In whom are ye also (ye Gentile believers) since ye heard (from the time when.… Their hearing was the terminus a quo) the word of the truth (the word whose character and contents are the truth of God: “quasi extra ipsum nulla esset proprie Veritas,” Calv.: see reff. This word is the instrument of the new birth, James 1:18. See Colossians 1:5, and, above all, John 17:17), (viz.) the Gospel of your salvation (the Gospel whose contents, whose good tidings are your salvation: not a genitive of apposition, as Harl.,—cf. the expressions εὐαγγ. τῆς χάριτος τ. θεοῦ, Acts 20:24,— τῆς εἰρήνης, ch. Ephesians 6:15,— τ. βασιλείας, Matthew 9:35,— ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ, Mark 1:1); in whom (belongs to Christ, as the former ἐν ᾧ—not to λόγον nor to εὐαγγέλιον,—nor is ἐν ᾧ to be taken with πιστεύσαντες, see below: but with ἐσφραγίσθητε—in whom ye not only are, but were sealed. The ἐν ᾧ καὶἐσφραγίσθητε answers exactly to ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἐκληρώθημεν above; πιστεύσαντες not being by this construction rendered superfluous (Mey.); see below) also (belongs to πιστεύσαντες ἐσφραγίσθητε, not to either word alone) on your believing (terminus a quo, as ἀκούσαντες above. Not to be taken with ἐν ᾧ (as = εἰς ὅν, an usage unknown to St. Paul), for see Acts 19:2, εἰ πνεῦμα ἅγ. ἐλάβετε πιστεύσαντες;—‘did ye receive the Holy Ghost when ye believed?’—and Romans 13:11, νῦνἐγγύτερον ἡμῶν ἡ σωτηρία ἢ ὅτε ἐπιστεύσαμεν: see also 1 Corinthians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 15:2; 1 Corinthians 15:11; Hebrews 4:3. This use of the aorist marks the time when the act of belief first took place—and it must naturally therefore stand absolutely) ye were sealed (the fact followed on baptism, which was administered on belief in Christ. See the key-passage, Acts 19:1-6.

πιστεύσαντες is, and is not, contemporaneous with ἐσφραγίσθητε: it is not, inasmuch as in strict accuracy, faith preceded baptism, and baptism preceded the gift of the Spirit: but it is, inasmuch as on looking back over a man’s course, the period of the commencement of his faith includes all its accidents and accompaniments. See Ellic.’s note. The figure of sealing is so simple and obvious, that it is perhaps mere antiquarian pedantry, with Schöttgen, Grot., and Wetst., to seek for an explanation of it in Gentile practices of branding with the names of their deities, or even in circumcision itself. The sealing was objective, making manifest to others ( ὥστε εἶναι δῆλον, ὅτι θεοῦ ἐστε λάχος κ. κλῆρος, Thl.; so Chr., al.): see John 3:33; Revelation 7:3,—but also subjective, an approval and substantiation of their faith ( τὴν βεβαίωσιν ἐδέξασθε, Theod. Mops.), see Romans 8:16; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 1 John 3:24 b) by the spirit of the promise (i.e. who was ἡ ἐπαγγελία τοῦ πατρός, Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4; Galatians 3:14; Galatians 3:22; and I therefore insert the article. This, and not the other alternative, that the Spirit confirms God’s promises to us, is the true rendering: He was the promise of the O. T. as well as of the N. T.: as Chr.: δύο εἰσὶν ἐπαγγελίαι, μία μὲν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν, ἑτέρα δὲ ἀπὸ τοῦ υἱοῦ. To unite together both alternatives as Stier does, weakens the force of the reference of ἐπαγγελίας back to God, so necessary to the context. The fact, that the Spirit is to us the Spirit of promise, is abundantly expressed in the following clause), the Holy One (I have preferred giving the ἁγίῳ separately, feeling with Meyer that there is an emphatic pathos in it which should not he lost in the usual prefix, ‘the Holy Spirit.’ The Spirit with whom He sealed you is even His own Holy Spirit—what grace, and mercy, and love, is here!) which (if the ὅς of the rec. be retained, it is not for a moment to be referred to Christ,—nor to be insisted on as agreeing with the understood gender of the personal πνεῦμα,—but as so very often, a relative agreeing in gender with the subject ( ἀῤῥαβών) of the relative clause: see ch. Ephesians 3:18 reff. and many more examples in Brüder) is the (not ‘an’) earnest (“the word signifies the first instalment paid as a pledge that the rest will follow. It is used by the Greek orators, and by the earlier Latin writers, especially Plautus and Terence. A. Gellius [xvii. 2] speaks of it as a word considered in his time [A.D. 120–50] to be vulgar, and superseded by ‘arra,’ which is the substitute for it in later Latinity. It is remarkable that the same word עֵרָבוֹן is used in the same sense in Hebrew, Genesis 38:17-18, from עֵרַב to mix or exchange, and thence to pledge, as Jeremiah 30:21; Nehemiah 5:3. It was therefore probably derived by the Greeks from the language of Phenician traders, as tariff, cargo, are derived, in the English and other modern languages, from Spanish traders.” Stanley, on 2 Corinthians 1:22. And so here-the Spirit is the ἀπαρχή, Romans 8:23,—the μέρος τοῦ παντός, as Chrys., or πρόδομα, as Hesych.: the pledge and assurer to us of τὰ ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ χαρισθέντα ἡμῖν, 1 Corinthians 2:12, which eye hath not seen, &c.) of our inheritance (here the first person comes in again, and not without reason. The inheritance (see above on ἐκληρώθημεν, which involved the converse idea) belongs to both Jew and Gentile—to all who are the children of Abraham by faith, Galatians 3:28-29), for (‘in order to,’—not ‘until,’ as E. V.; nor in ch. Ephesians 4:30 : nor does εἰς belong to ὅ ἐστιν …, but to ἐσφραγίσθητε. These two final clauses express the great purpose of all—not any mere intermediate matter—nor can the Holy Spirit be said to be any such intermediate gift) the full redemption ( ἀπολ. is often used by the Apostle in this sense, e.g. ch. Ephesians 4:30; Romans 8:23, of the full and exhaustive accomplishment of that which the word imports) of His purchased possession (the sense of περιποίησις has been much disputed, and many ungrammatical and illogical renderings of the words given. A full discussion may be seen in Harless’s note. The senses to be avoided are (1) the nonsensical antiptosis, that ἀπολ. τ. περιπ. = περιποίησιν τῆς ἀπολυτρώσεως: (2) the equally absurd hendiadys, taking τ. περιποιήσεως for τὴν περιποιηθεῖσαν, which fits neither the true sense of εἰς, nor the context: (3) the taking περιποιήσεως as active in meaning—‘redemptio qua contingat certa vitæ possession Bucer. But this it could not convey to the Apostle’s readers, unless constructed with some substantive to indicate such a meaning, as in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, where see note. A variety of this is proposed by Grot.—‘rescuing,’ i.e. salvation—and defended by Hebrews 10:39, where περιποίησις ψυχῆς is opposed to ἀπώλεια. But besides that there the genitive ψυχῆς fixes the meaning,—the article τῆς here, in my view, is an insuperable objection. (4) the taking περιπ, in a passive sense, as res acquisita—making it therefore = κληρονομία, and giving to ἀπολύτρωσις the sense of entire bestowal, which it cannot have. It remains then, that we seek some technical meaning of περιποίησις, since the obvious etymological ones fail. And such a meaning is found by considering its uses in the O. T. It, and its cognate word περίειμι, are found applied to the people of God, in the sense of a people whom he preserves for Himself as His possession. So Exodus 19:5, ἔσεσθέ μοι λαὸς περιούσιος ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν ἐθνῶν, Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:2; Deuteronomy 26:18;—Ps. 134:4, τὸν ἰακὼβ ἐξελέξατο ἑαυτῷ ὁ κύριος, ἰσραὴλ εἰς περιουσιασμὸν ἑαυτῷIsaiah 43:21, λαόν μου ὃν περιεποιησάμην τὰς ἀρετάς μου διηγεῖσθαι,—Malachi 3:17, ἔσονταί μοι, λέγει κύριος παντοκρ., εἰς ἡμέραν, ἣν ἐγὼ ποιῶ, εἰς περιποίησιν, κ. αἱρετιῶ αὐτοὺςκ. τ. λ. In ref. 2 Chron. we have the wider meaning of a remnant generally. The above sense as applied to the people of the Lord, was adopted by the N. T. writers: e.g. St. Paul, Acts 20:28, τὴν ἐκκλησίαν τ. θεοῦ, ἣν περιεποιήσατο διὰ τ. αἵματος τ. ἰδίου,—St. Peter, 1 Peter 2:9, ὑμεῖςλαὸς εἰς περιποίησιν. And such seems to be the meaning here: though no other case can be alleged in which the word stands so absolutely. We must suppose, that it would explain itself to the readers, from their familiarity with O. T. expressions, or with the Apostle’s own use of it. This view is taken by the Syr., Œc., Erasm., Calv., Grot., and most Commentators, also by De Wette, Harless, Olsh., Meyer, Stier, Ellic. Stier endeavours, as so often, to unite the meanings regarding God, and ourselves,—for that we in being God’s possession, reserved for survivorship to others, do, in the root of the word, thus survive, are thus saved: and undoubtedly this is so, but is not the leading idea) for the praise of His glory (as before, Ephesians 1:6 : but as Stier well remarks, χάριτος does not appear here, grace having done its work. αὐτοῦ is the Father: cf. Ephesians 1:17, ὁ πατὴρ τῆς δόξης. This, the thorough and final redemption of the Church which He hath acquired to Himself, is the greatest triumph of His glory: as Grot. well says, ‘Plus aliquanto est in voce περιποιήσεως quam in voce κλήρου quam antea habuimus. κλῆρος, sors, jus proprium perpetuumque significat: περιποίησις, acquisitio, et hoc, et modum acquirendi gravem et laboriosum. Solemus autem plurimi ea facere quæ magno nobis constant’). See the typico-historical connexion of this wonderful passage with the patriarchal, legal, and prophetic periods, unfolded in Stier, i. pp. 129–136. I would not be understood to subscribe to all there advanced: but though his parallelism sometimes borders on the fanciful, the connexion is too striking to be altogether set aside by the real student of Scripture.

(B) Ephesians 1:15-23.] The IDEA OF THE CHURCH carried forward, in the form of a prayer for the Ephesians, in which the fulfilment of the Father’s counsel through the Son and by the Spirit, in His people, is set forth, as consisting in the KNOWLEDGE of the hope of His calling, of the riches of His promise, and the power which He exercises on His saints as first wrought by Him in Christ, whom He has made Head over all to the Church.

Verse 15-16

15, 16.] INTRODUCTION TO THE PRAYER. Wherefore (i.e., on account of what has gone before since Ephesians 1:3 : but especially of what has been said since Ephesians 1:13, where καὶ ὑμεῖς first came in:—because ye are in Christ, and in Him were sealed, &c.) I also ( κἀγώ, either as resuming the first person after the second, going back to the ἐκληρώθημεν, Ephesians 1:11,—or as corresponding to καὶ ὑμεῖς above:—not, as Mey., al., because he is sensible that in thus praying for them he is helping their prayers for themselves) having heard of (on the indication supposed to be furnished by this respecting the readers, see Prolegg. § ii. 12) the faith among you in the Lord Jesus ( καθʼ ὑμᾶς is not = ὑμετέραν, as ordinarily rendered (even by Meyer), either here or any where else: cf. the example which Mey. quotes from Thuc. vi. 16, τῷ κατʼ αὐτοὺς βίῳ, ‘the life which prevails among them:’ Ellic. compares, for the distinction, τῷ νόμῳ τῷ ὑμετέρῳ, addressed to Pharisees, John 8:17, with νόμου τοῦ καθʼ ὑμᾶς, said with reference to Jews in Achaia, Acts 18:15 : nor is ‘among you’ merely local (chez vous), but is partitive, implying the possibility of some not having this faith, and thus intensifying the prayer which follows) and [your love which is] towards all the saints (on the reading, see digest. Taking the bracketed words as genuine, τήν specifies τὴν ἀγ- which might be general: τ. καθʼ ὑμπίστιν wants no such specification, all our faith being ἐν τ. κυρ. ἰησ., grounded in Him. Chrys. remarks: πανταχοῦ συνάπτει κ. συγκολλᾷ τ. πίστιν κ. τ. ἀγάπην θαυμαστήν τινα ξυνωρίδα) cease not giving thanks for you, making mention (of them,—viz. your faith and love) in (see reff. ‘In ἐπί with a genitive, the apparent temporal reference partakes somewhat of the local reference of juxtaposition.’ Bernhardy, p. 216) my (ordinary, see Romans 1:9 note) prayers.

Verse 17

17.] purpose (including also the purport, see note on 1 Corinthians 14:13, and Ellicott’s note here) of the prayer:—that (depends on the sense of μνείαν ποι. ἐπὶ τ. προσευχῶν, implying that a prayer for them took place) the God of our Lord Jesus Christ (see on Ephesians 1:3. The appellation is here solemnly and most appropriately given, as leading on to what is about to be said in Ephesians 1:20 ff. of God’s exaltation of Christ to be Head over all things to His Church. To His God, Christ also in the days of His Flesh prayed, πάτερ, δόξασόν σου τὸν υἱόν: and even more markedly in that last cry, θεέ μου, θεέ μου), the Father of glory (not merely the auctor, fons, of glory, Grot., Olsh.: still less = πατὴρ ἔνδοξος: nor with Chrys. to be explained ὁ μεγάλα ἡμῖν δεδωκὼς ἀγαθά· ἀπὸ γὰρ τῶν ὑποκειμένων ἀεὶ αὐτὸν καλεῖ, ὡς, ὅταν λέγῃ ὁ πατὴρ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν: nor is δόξης to be understood of the divine nature of Christ, as Thdrt.: θεὸν μὲν ὡς ἀνθρώπου, πατέρα δὲ ὡς θεοῦ, δόξαν γὰρ τὴν θείαν φύσιν ὠνόμασεν: for this would require τ. δόξης αὐτοῦ: but God is the Father,—by being the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,—of that glory, the true and all-including glory, and only glory, of the Godhead, which shone forth in the manhood of the only-begotten Son (John 1:14),—the true Shechinah, which His saints beheld in the face of Christ, 2 Corinthians 4:4; 2 Corinthians 4:6, and into which they are changed by the Lord the Spirit, ib. 2 Corinthians 3:18. In fact, 2 Corinthians 3:7 to 2 Corinthians 4:6, is the key to this sublime expression), would give (the account of the optative after ἵνα, when a present ( παύομαι) has preceded, is very simple. It is used when the purpose is not that of the writer as he is writing, but is described as that of himself or some one else at another time. Thus Herod. ii. 93, καταπλώουσι ἐς θάλασσαν, κ. ἀναπλώοντες ὀπίσω τῆς αὐτῆς ἀντέχονται, … ἵνα δὴ μὴ ἁμάρτοιεν τῆς ὁδοῦ διὰ τὸν ῥόον. See Klotz, Devar. p. 622) to you the Spirit (certainly it would not be right to take πνεῦμα here as solely the Holy Spirit, nor as solely the spirit of man: rather is it the complex idea, of the spirit of man indwelt by the Spirit of God, so that as such, it is His special gift, see below) of wisdom (not, which gives wisdom, but which possesses it as its character—q. d. to which appertains wisdom) and of revelation (i.e. that revelation which belongs to all Christians: see 1 Corinthians 2:10 ff.: not the χαρίσματα of the early Church, as Olsh.,—nor could the Apostle be alluding to any thing so trivial and fleeting, see 1 Corinthians 13:12. To those who are taught of God’s Spirit, ever more and more of His glories in Christ are revealed, see John 16:14-15) in (belongs to δῴη: as the element and sphere of the working of this gift of the Spirit) the full knowledge (for the distinction between γνῶσις and ἐπίγνωσις, see 1 Corinthians 13:12) of Him (Chr., Thl., Olsh., al., strangely connect ἐν ἐπιγνώσει αὐτοῦ with the following sentence, πεφωτισμ. κ. τ. λ. The whole paralleism is against this, in which πνεῦμα σοφ. κ. ἀποκ. is (3) πεφωτ. τ. ὀφθ. τ. κ. ὑμ. and ἐν ἐπιγνώσ. αὐτοῦ is (4) εἰς τὸ εἰδέναι κ. τ. λ.;—and the object being to exalt the gifts of the Spirit, ἐν ἐπ. αὐτ. would hardly come first in the sentence, and thus monopolize the emphasis. See also on a similar proposal, Ephesians 1:4, end.

αὐτοῦ (not αὑτοῦ) refers to the Father,—not to Christ, as Beza, Calv, al.; cf. αὐτοῦ four times in Ephesians 1:18-19 : Christ first becomes thus designated in Ephesians 1:20), having the eyes of your heart enlightened (the construction is as in Soph. Electr. 479, ὕπεστί μοι θράσος ἁδυπνόων κλύουσαν ἀρτίως ὀνειράτων,—Æsch. Choëph. 396, πέπαλται δʼ αὖτέ μοι φίλον κέαρ τόνδε κλύουσαν οἶκτον: see also Acts 26:3,—Kühner ii. p. 381: so that πεφωτισμένους belongs to ὑμῖν, and τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς is the accusative of reference. So Beza, Beng., Koppe, Meyer, Ellic.: and such is the simpler and more forcible construction. But Grot., Rück., Harl., Olsh., De W., Stier, all., take πεφ. τ. ὀφθ. together, and govern it by δῴη, to which the article before ὀφθ. is no objection (as Beng.), but the logic of the passage is. The enlightening as regards (or of) the eyes of the heart, is a condition, subordinate to the πνεῦμα σοφ. κ. ἀποκ., not another gift, correlative with it. Besides which, the sentence, even after all the grammatical vindications of Harl., al.,— δῴη ὑμῖνπεφωτισμένους τοὺς ὀφθ. τῆς καρδίας ὑμῶν, is clumsy and unpauline in the last degree. On πεφωτισμ., cf. Matthew 4:16 : ch. Ephesians 3:9 (Ephesians 1:14): Harl. gives an elaborate analysis, as usual, of the meaning, and remarks well that φωτίζω has the double meaning of ‘belehren und beleben’—‘enlightening and enlivening.’ He cites from Greg. Naz.: φῶς ὡς λαμπρότης ψυχῶν κ. λόγῳ κ. βίῳ καθαιρομένων. εἰ γὰρ σκότος ἡ ἄγνοια κ. ἡ ἁμαρτία, φῶς ἂν εἴη ἡ γνῶσις κ. ὁ βίος ὁ ἔνθεος. The expression τ. ὀφ. τῆς καρδίας is somewhat unusual. The καρδία of Scripture is, as Harl., the mittelpunkt des Lebens, 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. Similarly the Homeric κραδίη, see Damm. Lex.: the Latin ‘cor’—cf. Cic. Tusc. i. 9,—‘aliis cor ipsum animus videtur, ex quo excordes, vecordes, concordesque dicuntur.’ Thus the ὀφθ. τῆς καρδίας would be those pointed at in Matthew 6:22-23,—that inner eye of the heart, through which light is poured in on its own purposes and motives, and it looks out on, and perceives, and judges things spiritual: the eye, as in nature, being both receptive and contemplative of the light), that you may know (purpose of the πεφωτισμ., not of the πνεῦμ. σοφ. κ. ἀποκ. This which is now to be described, to the end of the chapter, is involved in the πν. σοφ. κ. ἀποκ., not its object: but it is the object of the enlightening, which will endue us with the knowledge) what (the dispute among the Commentators, whether τίς implies quality or quantity, seems hardly worth entering into. The fulness of the simple meaning, ‘what,’ embraces all categories under which the things mentioned can be contemplated. In the passage to which both sides appeal, ch. Ephesians 3:18, τί τὸ πλάτος κ. τ. λ. of course implies, ‘how great is the breadth, &c.:’ but it implies this by the simple meaning ‘what is the breadth, &c.,’ not by making τί = quantum, quantity being already involved in the substantives) is the hope (again, it is mere trifling to enquire whether ἐλπίς is the hope (subjective) or the thing hoped for (objective), in this case. For the τίς involves in itself both these. If I know WHAT the hope is, I know both its essence and its accidents. Undoubtedly such an objective sense of ἐλπίς does occur,—see on Colossians 1:5; but certainly the meaning here is far wider than in that passage. As well might the subjective sense of Colossians 1:23, be alleged on that side) of (belonging to, see on ch. Ephesians 4:4) His calling (i.e. the calling wherewith He called us. All the matters mentioned, κλη̄ σις, κληρονομία, δύναμις, are αὐτοῦ, His,—but not all in the same sense: see below. On κλῆσις, see notes, Romans 8:28-30), what the riches of the glory of His inheritance (“what a rich, sublime cumulation, setting forth in like terms the weightiness of the matters described;—and not to be weakened (verwässert) by any resolution of the genitives into adjectives.” Mey. See Colossians 1:27) in (in the case of, as exemplified in; not so weak as ‘among.’—nor merely ‘in,’ so as to refer to its subjective realization in them) the saints (much dispute has arisen on the construction of ἐν τ. ἁγ. Koppe and Winer (Gram. § 19.2. b, edn. 3: not appy in edn. 6), with whom Meyer and De Wette agree, connect it with ἐστίν understood, so as to mean ‘what the richness of, &c. is among the saints.’ To mention no other objection to this awkward construction, the context and sense are decisive against it. As Stier well says, ‘Paul does not pray for their eyes to be enlightened, to see what great and rich things are already among Christians.’ No: nor is it easy to conceive how any intelligent reader of the Epistle could ever maintain such a rendering. The other construction is, to take ἐν τ. ἁγ. as belonging either to πλοῦτος, or to δόξης, or to κληρονομίας, as if it had been (or τῆς) ἐν τοῖς ἁγ. And this is the only one allowed by the context: cf. Ephesians 1:19-20, where εἰς ἡμᾶς, ἐν χριστῷ, form objects of reference precisely similar. Again there is manifestly a distinction between οἱ ἅγιοι here, and ἡμεῖς οἱ πιστεύοντες in the next verse: the former being the perfected, the latter the militant saints. And this decides for the joining ἐν τ. ἁγ. to κληρονομίας αὐτοῦ,—‘His inheritance in, whose example and fulness, and embodying is in the saints.’ The objection to this is supposed to be the want of the article before ἐν, which is urged by Meyer (see also Ellicott’s note here), because αὐτοῦ has intervened, thereby preventing κληρ. ἐν τ. ἁγ. being considered as one idea. But surely this is not so. If, before αὐτοῦ was inserted, ἡ κληρ. ἐν τ. ἁγίοις was sufficiently one to prevent the necessity of a specification of the genus κληρονομία that it was the κληρ. which was ἐν τ. ἁγ. (for such is the force of the inserted article), how can this logical fact be altered by the insertion of Him, whose κληρ. it is,—who originated and bestowed it,—and who is therefore necessarily prior to the κληρονομία, not intervening between it and its example? I therefore join it to κληρ., and so Rück., Harless, Olsh., Stier, al. This latter, as usual, combines the senses of κληρ. αὐτοῦ, including the inheritance which God has in His people, and that which they have in Him. His whole note is well worth attention),

Verse 19

19.] and what the surpassing (a word only pauline in N. T., see reff.) greatness of His power to usward who believe (construction as before, Ephesians 1:18, τῆς δυνάμ. αὐτ. εἰς ἡμ., not τί τὸ ὑπ … ( ἐστὶν) εἰς ἡμ. Not His future power in the actual resurrection only is spoken of, but THE WHOLE of His energizing to usward from first to last, principally however His present spiritual work, cf. πιστεύοντας, not, as in 2 Thessalonians 1:10, πιστεύσασιν: see also Colossians 2:12, und 1 Peter 1:3-5. This power is exerted to usward, which expression of the E. V. I retain as giving better the prominence to us in the fact of its direction, than the more usual but tamer ‘toward us.’ But it is not, as Matth., Flatt, the power which works faith in us, except in so far indeed as faith is a portion of its whole work: here, the πιστεύοντες are the material on which the power works), according to (in proportion to,—as might be expected from: but more than this—His power to usward is a part of, a continuation of, or rather included as a consequence in, the other. All the shallower interpretations must be avoided here:—Grot., ‘rei similitudinem significat:’ Van Ess., gleich der Werkung: nor must we join, as Erasm. al., κατὰ τ. ἐν. with πιστεύοντας, which is beside the Apostle’s purpose: nor, with Mey., understand it as a qualification of εἰς τὸ εἰδέναι (Erkenntnissgrund des vorherigen Momentes): nor, with Harless, refer it to all three, ἐλπίς, πλοῦτος, μέγεθος: but with Chrys., Calv., Est., Grot., De W., Ellic., take it as an amplification, or explanation, or grounding, of— τὸ ὑπερβ … to πιστεύοντας) the working (putting forth in action, in an object) of the strength of His might ( κράτος the actual measure of ἰσχύς, His might. The latter is the attribute, subjectively considered: the former the weight of that attribute, objectively esteemed: the ἐνέργεια, the operation, in matter of fact, of the strength of that might. Calvin’s distinction, though not quite accurate, is worth noting: “Inter tria nomina quæ hic posuit, hoc interest: quod robur est quasi radix, potentia, autem, arbor (qu. vice versâ?): efficacia, fructus, est enim extensio divini brachii, quæ in actum emergit”), which (viz. ἐνέργειαν: cf. Ephesians 1:6, note) He hath wrought in Christ (our ἀπαρχή, as Œc.: nor only this, but our Head, in virtue of God’s ἐνέργεια in whom, His power to usward is made possible and actual. No shallower view, such as that of Grot. that ‘Deus oculis humanis quantum posset, in Christo, capite et duce nostro, ostendit,’ must be for a moment admitted) in that He raised (as γνωρίσας above, Ephesians 1:9) Him from the dead (the resurrection of Christ was not a mere bodily act, an earnest of our bodily resurrection, but was a spiritual act, the raising of His humanity (which is ours), consisting of body and soul, from infirmity to glory, from the curse to the final triumph. In that He died, HE DIED UNTO SIN once; but in that He liveth, HE LIVETH UNTO GOD. And so ἡμεῖς οἱ πιστεύοντες, knit to Him, have died unto sin and live unto God. It is necessary to the understanding of the following, thoroughly to appreciate this—or we shall be in danger of regarding, with the shallower expositors, Christ’s resurrection as merely a pledge of our bodily resurrection, or as a mere figure representing our spiritual resurrection,—not as involving the resurrection of the Church in both senses); and setting Him at His right hand (see especially Mark 16:19) in the heavenly places (see on Ephesians 1:3 : and Matthew 6:9, note. But the fact of the universal idea, of God’s dwelling being in heaven, being only a symbolism common to all men, must not for a moment induce us to let go the verity of Christ’s bodily existence, or to explain away the glories of His resurrection into mere spiritualities. As Stephen saw Him, so He veritably is: in human form, locally existent) over above (not, as in my former editions [before 1865], ‘far above.’ Ellicott says, “The intensive force which Chrys. and Thl. find in this word, ἵνα τὸ ἀκρότατον ὕψος δηλώσῃ, and which has recently been adopted by Stier and Eadie, is very doubtful: as is also the assertion (Eadie) that this prevails in the majority of passages in the LXX: cf. Ezekiel 1:26; Ezekiel 8:2; Ezekiel 10:19; Ezekiel 11:22; Ezekiel 43:15; and even Deuteronomy 26:19; Deuteronomy 28:1. Such distinct instances as Ezekiel 43:15, and in the N. T., Hebrews 9:5, the similarly unemphatic use of the antitheton ὑποκάτω, John 1:51, Luke 8:16, and the tendencies of Alexandrian and later Greek to form duplicated compounds, make it highly probable that ὑπεράνω, both here and ch. Ephesians 4:10, implies little more than simple local elevation. So too Syr. and apparently all the ancient versions”) all government (cf. Matthew 28:8) and power and might and lordship (see similar combinations in reff. The most reasonable account of the four words seems to be this: ὑπ. πάσ. ἀρχῆς gives the highest and fullest expression of exaltation: κ. ἐξουσίας is added as filling out ἀρχῆς in detail: ἐξουσία being not only government, but every kind of official power, primary and delegated: cf. Matthew 8:9; Matthew 10:1; Matthew 21:23 ff.; Luke 20:20; Luke 23:7. Then in the second pair, δύναμις is mere might, the raw material, so to speak, of power: κυριότης is that pre-eminence or lordship, which δύναμις establishes for itself. So that in the first pair we descend from the higher and concentrated to the lower and diffused: in the second we ascend from the lower and diffused to the higher and concentrated. The following shews that in this enumeration not only earthly, nor only heavenly authorities are meant to be included, but both together,—so as to make it perfectly general. That the evil spirits are included, is therefore manifest: see also ch. Ephesians 6:12; 1 Corinthians 15:24-26) and every name that is named (further generalization: indicating not merely titles of honour (cf. ὀνομαζομ.), nor persons, but, as Stier, a transition from the ἀρχαί, &c. to πάντα below: answering to οὔτε τις κτίσις ἑτέρα, cf. Romans 8:39. And this transition passes into still wider meaning in the following words) not only in this present state, but also in that which is to come (= ἐνεστῶτα and μέλλοντα of Romans 8:38—not only time present and to come, but the present (earthly) condition of things, and the future (heavenly) one. And forasmuch as that heavenly state which is for us future, is now, to those in it, present, it is by the easiest transition denoted by the μέλλων αἰών: cf. Luke 20:35, and especially Hebrews 2:5, τὴν οἰκουμένην τ. μέλλουσαν. So that the meanings seem combined,—‘every name now named in earth and heaven:’ and, ‘every name which we name,—not only now, but hereafter.’ And in this last view Thdrt.: προστέθεικεν, ὅτι καὶ εἴ τινας τούτων ἀγνοοῦμεν, μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα γνωσόμεθα ἐν τῷ μέλλοντι βίῳ. Chrys.: ἄρα ἐστὶ δυνάμεών τινων ὀνόματα ἡμῖν ἄσημα κ. οὐ γνωριζόμενα. Grot., ‘quæ noscemus in altero sæcuIo:’ Beng., ‘quamvis non omnes nominare possumus.’ Wesley, beautifully expanding Bengel (Stier, p. 183): ‘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’),

Verse 22

22.] and subjected all things under His feet (from the Messianic Psalms 8; not without an allusion also in καθίσας, &c. above to Psalms 110:1 : not merely cited, as Thdrt., καὶ τ. προφητικὴν ἐπήγαγε μαρτυρίαν, but interwoven into the context, πάντα being a summing up of all mentioned before), and gave (‘presented;’ keep the literal sense: not ‘appointed;’ see below) HIM (emphatic, from its position: HIM, thus exalted, thus glorified, the Father not only raised to this supereminence, but gave Him to His redeemed as their Head, &c.) as Head over all things to the Church (not as Chrys.,—in either of his alternatives: ἢ τὸν ὄντα ὑπὲρ πάντα τὰ ὁρώμενα κ. τὰ νοούμενα χριστόν (which would be τὴν κεφ., or τὸν ὑπὲρ πάντα), ἢ ὑπὲρ πάντα τὰ ἀγαθὰ τοῦτο πεποίηκε, τὸ τὸν υἱὸν δοῦναι κεφαλήν,—which is beside the context, in which no comparison is made between the gift of Christ and other blessings: nor as Beng., ‘Ecclesia, super omnia, super imperia, &c., quorum caput (?) Christus est, potest dicere, Christus est caput meum: ego sum corpus ejus,’—for this sense cannot possibly be extracted out of the words themselves ὑπὲρ πάντα: nor as Baumgarten, ὑπὲρ πάντα = μάλιστα πάντων, præcipue, potius quam cæteris,—for, not to mention other objections, πάντα must surely be the same in meaning as πάντα before: nor can πάντα be masculine, as Jer., Anselm, al., and Wahl: nor, as Calv., ‘quia simul plena rerum omnium potestas et administratio illi sit commissa:’ nor, with Harl., does πάντα find its limitation within the Church, so as not to apply to other things without it: nor is ὑπὲρ πάντα to be taken with κεφ., summum caput, as Olsh., all.: nor as Meyer, Stier, and Ellicott (edn. 1: in edn. 2, he interprets nearly as below), is another κεφαλήν to be supplied before τῇ ἐκκλ., ‘gave Him, as Head over all things, as Head to the Church:’ nor is the dative a dat. commodi, as De W.: but the meaning is thus to be gained, from what follows: CHRIST is Head over all things: the Church is the BODY of Christ, and as such is the fulness of Him who fills all with all: the Head of such a Body, is Head over all things; therefore when God gives Christ as Head to the church, He gives Him as Head over all things to the church, from the necessity of the case. Thus what follows is epexegetical of this), which same (Church, ‘quæ quidem;’ hardly ‘ut quæ,’ “in virtue of her being,” as Meyer) is His BODY (not in a figure merely: it is veritably His Body: not that which in our glorified humanity He personally bears, but that in which He, as the Christ of God, is manifested and glorified by spiritual organization. He is its Head; from Him comes its life; in Him, it is exalted: in it, He is lived forth and witnessed to; He possesses nothing for Himself,—neither His communion with the Father, nor His fulness of the Spirit, nor His glorified humanity,—but all for His Church, which is in the innermost reality, HIMSELF His flesh and His bones—and therefore) the fulness ( πλήρ. is in apposition with τὸ σῶμα αὐτ., and is a fresh description of ἡ ἐκκλησία. It would pass my limits, even to notice summarily what has been written on πλήρωμα. I will endeavour to give an account of the word itself. Like other derivatives in - μα from the perfect passive, it would appear primarily to designate either (1) concrete, that thing on which the action denoted by the verb has passed: e.g. ποίημα, the thing made, πρᾶγμα, the thing done, σπέρμα, the thing sown, πλήρωμα, the thing filled: or (2) abstract, that occurrence whereby the action denoted has been exemplified: e.g. τρῶμα, the effect of τιτρώσκειν, not the thing wounded, but the wound inflicted: so κλάσμα, ἀρίθμημα, and the like; πλήρωμα, the fulness. From this latter, the transition is very easy to the meaning the thing whereby the effect is produced, as where πλήρωμα is used for the crew of a ship (see also Matthew 9:16 (5); Mark 6:43; 1 Corinthians 10:26; Galatians 4:4; Ephesians 1:10), ζεῦγμα for a bridge or yoke, &c. Hence arises the so-called active sense of such nouns, which is not in fact an active sense at all, but a logical transference from the effect to that which exemplifies the effect. Here, the simple and primary meaning is by far the best,—‘the thing filled,’—“the filled up receptacle” (cf. κατοικητήριον, ch. Ephesians 2:22), as Eadie expresses it (see also Ellicott), the meaning being, that the church, being the Body of Christ, is dwelt in and filled by God: it is His πλήρωμα in an especial manner—His fulness abides in it, and is exemplified by it. The nearest approach to any one word in English which may express it, is made by fulness, though it, as well as πλ., requires explaining, as importing not the inherent plenitude of God Himself, but that communicated plenitude of gifts and graces wherein He infuses Himself into His Church. I would refer those who wish to enter more fully into this matter, to the long and laboured notes of Harless, and Stier: and to Fritzsche on Rom. vol. ii. pp. 469 ff.) of Him who filleth (it is doubted whether πληρουμένου is passive, or middle in an active sense. Those who take πλήρωμα above, actively, “the filling up,” generally (Harless is an exception) defend the passive sense here, “of Him who is (being) filled, &c.” So Chrys: πλήρωμα, φησίν· οἷον κεφαλὴ πληροῦται παρὰ τοῦ σώματοςδιὰ πάντων οὖν πληροῦται τὸ σῶμα αὐτοῦ. τότε πληροῦται ἡ κεφαλή, τότε τέλειον σῶμα γίνεται, ὅταν ὁμοῦ πάντες ὦμεν συνημμένοι κ. συγκεκολλημένοι. Jer.: “Sicut adimpletur imperator, si quotidie ejus augeatur exercitus, et fiant novæ provinciæ, et populorum multitudo succrescat, ita et Christus, in eo, quod sibi credunt omnia, ipse adimpletur in omnibus;” and Estius: “Qui secundum omnia, sive quoad omnia in omnibus sui corporis membris adimpletur. Nisi enim essent hic quidem pes ejus, ille vero manus, alius autem aliud membrum … non perficeretur Christus secundum rationem capitis.” But to this it is difficult to assign any satisfactory sense, especially on account of τὰ πάντα ἐν πᾶσιν. It certainly cannot be said that Christ awaits His completion, in any such meaning as this, by the completion of his Church. And it is not probable that if such had been the meaning, τὰ πάντα ἐν πᾶσιν would have thus barely and emphatically preceded the participle which itself conveyed so new and startling an idea. We should have had some such arrangement as this— τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ καὶ αὐτοῦ τὰ πάντα ( κ.) ἐν πᾶσιν πληρουμένου. If now we take πληρουμένου in an active reflective sense, both meaning and arrangement will be satisfactory—‘the fulness (receptacle, filled and possessed) of Him who fillethτὰ πάντα ἐν πᾶσιν. But are we justified in thus taking it? It seems so, from Xen. Hell. vi. 2. 14, ὁ στρατηγὸς μάλα ὀξέως τὰς ναῦς ἐπληροῦτο κ. τοὺς τριηράρχους ἠνάγκαζε. See likewise Plato, Gorg. § 106; Xen. Hell. v. 4. 56; vi. 2. 35: Demosth. p. 1208. 14: Plut. Alcib. 35: Pollux i. 99: in all of which the 1 aor. middle is thus used. Having then this authority as far as grammatical usage is concerned, we are further inclined to this rendering by ch. Ephesians 4:10, where it is said of Christ, ὁ ἀναβὰς ὑπεράνω πάντων τῶν οὐρανῶν, ἵνα πληρώσῃ τὰ πάντα, and the Apostle proceeds to enumerate the various gifts bestowed by Him on His Church. See further in note there) all things (the whole universe: not to be restricted in meaning. The Church is the special receptacle and abiding place—the πλήρωμα κατʼ ἐξοχήν, of Him who fills all things) with all things (i.e. who is the bestower of all, wherever found. ἐν πᾶσιν has been rendered ‘every where’ (B.-Crus.): ‘in every way’ (De W.): ‘in every case’ (Harl.): and al.: but the Apostle’s own usage is our best guide,— πληροῦσθε ἐν πνεύματι, ch. Ephesians 5:18, and other reff., and directs us to the instrumental or elemental meaning—the thing with, or by, or in which as an element, the filling takes place. So that the expression will mean, with all, not only gifts, not only blessings, but things: who fills all creation with whatever it possesses—who is the Author and Giver of all things. The reference is, I think, to the Father, not to Christ. The latter has been imagined (see especially Ellicott), principally from strictly parallelizing the two clauses,— τὸ σῶμα | αὐτοῦ (6), τὸ πλήρωμα | τοῦ τ. π. ἐν π. πληρουμένου (7). But this is by no means conclusive: the second definitive clause may assert more than the first;—may be, not subordinate to the first, but inclusive of it. In ch. Ephesians 4:10, where Christ’s filling all things is spoken of, we have the active voice, denoting the bare objective fact: whereas here the reciprocal middle implies a filling for Himself, which can hardly be predicated of any but the Father, for whom are all things, even the Son himself).


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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Ephesians 1:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

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