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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

Ephesians 2



Other Authors
Verse 1

1.] You also ( καί is much more than merely copulative. It selects and puts into prominence ὑμᾶς, from among the recipients of God’s grace implied in Ephesians 2:19-22 of the former chapter. See below), who were (“ ὄντας clearly marks the state in which they were at the time when God quickened them: this in Ephesians 2:5 is brought prominently forward by the καί: here however καί is joined with and gives prominence to ὑμᾶς. A simple indication, then, of their state, without any temporal or causal adjunct, ‘when,’ ‘whereas,’ &c., seems in the present case most satisfactory, as less calling away the attention from the more emphatic ὑμᾶς.” Ellicott, edn. 1) dead (certainly not, as Meyer, ‘subject to (physical) death:’ the whole of the subsequent mercy of God in His quickening them is spiritual, and therefore of necessity the death also. That it involves physical death, is most true; but as I have often had occasion to remark (see e.g. on John 11:25-26), this latter is so subordinate to spiritual death, as often hardly to come into account in Scripture) in (not exactly as in Colossians 2:13, νεκροὺς ὄντας ἐν τοῖς παραπτώμασιν, where the element is more in view, whereas here it is the causal dative—we might render, were the expression good in serious writing, ‘dead of your trespasses,’ as we say ‘he lies dead of cholera.’ I use ‘in’ as giving nearly the same causal sense: we say, indiscriminately, ‘sick of a fever,’ and ‘sick in a fever’) [your] trespasses and sins (it seems difficult to establish universally any distinction such as has been attempted, e.g. by Tittm. Synon. p. 47,—“licet non satis vera Hieronymi distinctio videatur, qui παράπτωμα primum ad peccatum lapsum esse dicit, ἁμαρτίαν, quum ad ipsum facinus perventum est; tamen in v. παράπτωμα proprie inest notio peccati quod temere commissum est, i.e. a nolente facere injuriam; sed in ἁμαρτία et ἁμάρτημα cogitatur facinus quod, qui fecit, facere voluit, sive imprudens erraverit, recte se facere existimans, sive impetu animi et libidine obreptus fecerit.… Levius est παράπτωμα quam ἁμαρτία, si ἁμαρτία de singulo peccato dicitur.” Where however, as here, the two occur together, it may be accepted as correct. If we take merely that of Ellicott, al., that “ παραπτώματα are the particular, special acts of sin,— ἁμαρτίαι the more general and abstract, viz. all forms, phases, and movements of sin, whether entertained in thought or consummated in act,” we shall not provide for the whole case: for ἁμαρτίαι are unquestionably used for special acts (= ἁμαρτήματα): and we want a distinction which shall embrace this case. Another question concerns the construction of this accusative clause. Some (Beng., Lachm., Harl.) consider it as a continuation of ch. Ephesians 1:23, and place a comma only at πληρουμένου. But (see our division of the sense) the sentence evidently finishes with πληρουμένου, and a new subject is here taken up. The simplest view seems to be the usual one, that the Apostle began with the accusative, intending to govern it by συνεζωοποίησεν τῷ χριστῷ, but was led away by the relative clauses, ἐν αἷς ποτὲ …, ἐν οἷς καὶ ἡμεῖς …, and himself takes up the dropped thread of the construction by ὁ δὲ θεὸς …, Ephesians 2:4. So Erasm.: “hyperbati longioris ambitum ipse correxit Apostolus dicens ‘Deus autem qui dives est’ …” At all events, the clause should be left, in translation, pendent, as it stands, and not filled in conjecturally),

Verse 1-2

1, 2.] Actual state of the Gentiles—dead in trespasses and sins, living under the power of the devil.

Verses 1-10


Verses 1-22

1–22.] (See on ch. Ephesians 1:3.) COURSE AND PROGRESS OF THE CHURCH THROUGH THE SON consisting mainly in the receiving of believers in the new man Christ Jesus—setting forth on one side the death and ruin in which they were;—on the other, the way to life opened to them by the finished work of Christ. This throughout the chapter, which is composed (as ch. 1) of two parts—the first, more doctrinal and assertive (Ephesians 2:1-10), the second more hortative and reminiscent (Ephesians 2:11-22). In both, the separate cases of Gentiles and Jews, and the present union in Christ, are treated of. And herein.

Verse 2

2.] in which ( ἁμαρτίαις, the last substantive, but applying in fact to both) ye once walked (we hardly need, as Eadie, al., go back every time to the figure in περιπατεῖν—the word has become with the Apostle so common in its figurative sense. See Fritzsche’s note, Rom. vol. iii. p. 140) according to (after the leading of, conformably to) the course (so E. V.: the very best word, as so often. The meaning of αἰών here is compounded of its temporal and its ethical sense: it is not exactly ‘lifetime,’ ‘duration,’ nor again ‘fashion,’ ‘spirit,’ but some common term which will admit of being both temporally and ethically characterized,—‘career’ or ‘course.’ Beware 1) of taking αἰῶνα and κόσμου as synonymous, and the expression as a pleonasm (“utrumque nominat, seculum et mundum, cum sufficeret alterum dixisse,” Estius), 2) of imagining, as Michaelis and Baur, that the expression is a gnostic one, the æon being the devil: for, as Meyer remarks, the ordinary sense of αἰών gives a good meaning, and one characteristic of St. Paul. See Galatians 1:4, for a use of αἰών—somewhat similar, but more confined to the temporal meaning) of this world (St. Paul generally uses ὁ κόσμος, but has ὁ κ. οὗτος in 1 Corinthians 3:19; 1 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 7:31. It designates the present system of things, as alien from God, and lying in the evil one), according to the ruler of the power of the air (the devil—the θεὸς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου, 2 Corinthians 4:4, is clearly meant: but it is difficult exactly to dissect the phrase, and give each word its proper meaning. ἐξουσία appears to be used here as ὁμηλικίη in Homer, ἡλικία, ἑταιρία, δουλεία, ὑπηρεσία συμμαχία, and the like, to represent the aggregate of those in power: as we say, ‘the government.’ So that all such renderings as ‘princeps potentissimus’ are to be at once dismissed. So also is every explanation which would ascribe to the Apostle a polemical, or distantly allusive tendency, in an expression which he manifestly uses as one of passage merely, and carrying its own familiar sense to his readers. This against Michaelis, and all who have imagined an allusion to the gnostic ideas—and Wetst., who says, “Paulus ita loquitur ex principiis philosophiæ Pythagoreæ, quibus illi ad quos scribit imbuti erant.” Not much better are those who refer the expression to Rabbinical ideas for its source. The different opinions and authorities (which would far exceed the limits of a general commentary) may be seen cited and treated in Harless, Stier, and Eadie. I am disposed to seek my interpretation from a much more obvious source: viz. the persuasion and common parlance of mankind, founded on analogy with well-known facts. (Ellic., edn. 2, disapproves this, but without sufficiently attending to my explanation which follows, which, as in so many cases where he imagines a difference between our interpretations, is practically the same as his own,) We are tempted by evil spirits, who have access to us, and suggest thoughts and desires to our minds. We are surrounded by the air, which is the vehicle of speech and of all suggestions to our senses. Tried continually as we are by these temptations, what so natural, as to assign to their ministers a dwelling in, and power over that element which is the vehicle of them to us? And thus our Lord, in the parable of the sower, when He would represent the devil coming and taking away the seed out of the heart, figures him by τὰ πετεινὰ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ. The Apostle then, in using this expression, would be appealing to the common feeling of his readers, not to any recondite or questionable system of dæmonology. That traces are found in such systems, of a belief agreeing with this, is merely a proof that they have embodied the same general feeling, and may be used in illustration, not as the ground, of the Apostle’s saying.

All attempts to represent ἀήρ as meaning ‘darkness,’ or ‘spirit,’ are futile, and beside the purpose. The word occurs (see reff.) six more times in the N. T. and no where in any but its ordinary meaning), of the spirit ( τῆς ἐξουσίας being used as designating (see above) the personal aggregate of those evil ones who have this power, τοῦ πνεύματος, in apposition with it, represents their aggregate character, as an influence on the human mind, a spirit of ungodliness and disobedience,—the πνεῦμα τοῦ κόσμου of 1 Corinthians 2:12,—the aggregate of the πνεύματα πλάνα of 1 Timothy 4:1. So that (against Harless) the meaning of πνεύματος, though properly and strictly objective, almost passes into the subjective, when it is spoken of as ἐνεργοῦντος ἐν κ. τ. λ. And this will account for the otherwise harsh conjunction of ἄρχοντα τοῦ πνεύματος. As he (the devil) is the ruler of τὰ πνεύματα, whose aggregate τὸ πνεῦμα is,—so he is the ἄρχων of the thoughts and ways of the ungodly,—of that πνεῦμα which works in them. The genitive, πνεύματος, must not be taken, as by many Commentators and by Rückert, as in apposition with ἄρχοντα, by the Apostle’s negligence of construction. No such assumption should ever be made without necessity; and there is surely none here) which is now (i.e ‘still:’ contrast to ποτέ,—to you, who have escaped from his government: no allusion need be thought of to the interval before the παρουσία being that of the hottest conflict between the principles (2 Thessalonians 2:7. Revelation 12:12), as De W.) working in the sons of (the expression is a Hebraism, but is strictly reproduced in the fact: that of which they are sons, is the source and spring of their lives, not merely an accidental quality belonging to them) disobedience (the vulg. renders it diffidentia, but unfortunately, as also Luther Unglaube; for both here and in ch. Ephesians 5:6, it is practical conduct which is spoken of. Doubtless unbelief is the root of disobedience: but it is not here expressed, only implied. In Deuteronomy 9:23, ἠπειθήσατε τῷ ῥήματι κυρίου τ. θεοῦ ὑμῶν, and the allusion to it in Hebrews 4:6, οἱ πρότερον εὐαγγελισθέντες οὐκ εἰσῆλθον διʼ ἀπείθειαν, we have the disobedience in its root—here, in its fruits—cf. Ephesians 2:3, ποιοῦντες τὰ θελήματα κ. τ. λ.):

Verse 3

3.] among whom (the υἱοὶ τ. ἀπειθείας: not merely local, but ‘numbered among whom,’— ὧν καὶ αὐτοὶ ὄντες, as Rückert: not ‘in which,’ viz. παραπτώμασιν, as Syr., Jer., Grot., Bengel, al., and Stier, who would divide off ἁμαρτίαι, allotting them to the Gentiles, and to Ephesians 2:2,—and παραπτώματα, assigning them to the Jews, and to Ephesians 2:3. See further on this below: but meantime, besides its very clumsy treatment of the ἁμαρτ. and παραπτ. which both belong to ὑμεῖς in Ephesians 2:1, it ascribes to the Apostle an unusual and unnatural precision in distinguishing the two words which he had used without any such note of distinction, such as τεκαί) we also all (WHO? The usage of ἡμεῖς πάντες by St. Paul must decide. It occurs Romans 4:16, ὅς ἐστιν πατὴρ πάντων ἡμῶν, undeniably for Jews and Gentiles included (for the slight difference arising from πάντων being first, and therefore emphatic, need not be insisted on): Romans 8:32, ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν πάντων παρέδωκεν αὐτόν, where the universal reference is as undeniable: 1 Corinthians 12:13, where it is still more marked: ἡμεῖς πάντες· … εἴτε ἰουδαῖοι εἴτε ἕλληνες, εἴτε δοῦλοι εἴτε ἐλεύθεροι: 2 Corinthians 3:18, equally undoubted. It can hardly then be that here he should have departed from his universal usage, and placed an unmeaning πάντες after ἡμεῖς merely to signify, ‘we Jews, every one of us.’ I therefore infer that by ἡμεῖς πάντες, he means, we all, Jews and Gentiles alike; all, who are now Christians) lived our life (reff. especially 2 Cor.) once, in (as in ref. 1 Pet., of the element, in which: in 2 Corinthians 1:12, the same double use of ἐν, of the place, and the element, is found) the desires of our flesh (of our unrenewed selves, under the dominion of the body and the carnal soul. See a contrast, Galatians 5:16), doing the wishes (the instances in which τὸ θέλημα manifested itself: see reff.) of our flesh and of our thoughts (the plural use is remarkable. There appears to be a reference to Numbers 15:39, οὐ διαστραφήσεσθε ὀπίσω τῶν διανοιῶν ὑμῶν. In Isaiah 55:9, a distinction is made, ἀπέχειτὰ διανοήματα ὑμῶν ἀπὸ τῆς διανοίας μου, which is useful here, as pointing to διάνοιαι as an improper use for διανοήματα,—the instrument for its results. Thus ‘thoughts’ will be our nearest word—those phases of mind which may or may not affect the will, but which then in our natural state we allowed to lead us by the desires they excited), and were (the change of construction has been remarked by the best Commentators as intentional, not of negligence,—“to give emphasis to the weighty clause that follows, and to disconnect it from any possible relation to present time, ‘we were children of wrath by nature,—it was once our state and condition, it is now so no longer.’ ” Ellicott. And Eadie remarks: “Had he written καὶ ὄντες, as following out the idea of ποιοῦντες, there might have been a plea against the view of innate depravity (see below)—‘fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and being,’ or ‘so being, children of wrath.’ But the Apostle says καὶ ἤμεθα—‘and we were,’ at a point of time prior to that indicated in ποιοῦντες”) children (not = υἱοί, but implying closer relation. The effect of the expression is to set those of whom it is predicated, beneath, in subjection to, as it were, the products of, ὀργή. So in the passages adduced by Harl.;—Deuteronomy 25:2, אִם־בִּן הַכּוֹת, ‘if he be the son of stripes,’ i.e. not as LXX and E. V. ἄξιος πληγῶν, but actually beaten:—1 Samuel 20:31, בֶּן־מָוֶת הוּא, ‘he is the son of death,’—i.e. as we express it, ‘he is a dead man,’ anticipating the effect of that which seems to be certain) by nature (the meaning of φύσει is disputed. Some of the ancients (Cyr., Œc., Thl.), and Grot. took it as = ὄντως, ἀληθῶς, which meaning it never bears; see on Galatians 4:8. Others (Holzhausen, Hoffm.) would join it with ὀργῆς,—‘anger, which arises from the ungodly natural life:’ but as Mey. remarks, even granting this use of φύσις, this would require τῆς τῇ φύσει ὀργῆς or τῆς ἐκ τῆς φύσ. ὀργῆς. It can then only mean, ‘by nature.’ And what does this imply? Harl., in loc., seems to have given the distinctive sense well: “ φύσις, in its fundamental idea, is that which has grown as distinguished from that which has been effected (das Gewordene in Gegensass zum Gemachten), i.e. it is that which according to our judgment has the ground of its existence in individual development, not in accessory influence of another. Accordingly, φύσις, in its concrete idea, as the sum total of all growth, is ‘rerum natura:’ and in its abstract philosophical idea, φύσις is the contrast to θέσις. The φύσις of an individual thing denotes the peculiarity of its being, which is the result of its being, as opposed to every accessory quality: hence φύσει εἶνσι or ποιεῖν τι means, ‘sua sponte facere, esse aliquid’ and ‘natura esse aliquid:’ to be and do any thing by virtue of a state ( εἶναι) or an inclination ( ποιεῖν), not acquired, but inherent: ἔξοιδα καὶ φύσει σε μὴ πεφυκότα | τοιαῦτα φωνεῖν, μηδὲ τεχνᾶσθαι κακά, Soph. Philoct. 80.” If this be correct, the expression will amount to an assertion on the part of the Apostle of the doctrine of original sin. There is from its secondary position (cf. Plutarch de frat. am. p. 37, in Harl., ὀργάνων φύσει τοιούτων ἔτυχεν) no emphasis on φύσει: but its doctrinal force as referring to a fundamental truth otherwise known, is not thereby lessened. And it is not for Meyer to argue against this by assuming original sin not to be a pauline doctrine. If the Apostle asserts it here, this place must stand on its own merits, not be wrested to suit an apparent preconceived meaning of other passages. But the truth is, he cites those other passages in a sense quite alien from their real one. It would be easy to shew that every one of them (Romans 1:18; Romans 2:8-9; Romans 5:12; Romans 7:9; Romans 11:21. Galatians 2:15) is consistent with the doctrine here implied. The student will do well to read the long notes in Harl., De W., Stier, and Eadie) of wrath (WHOSE wrath, is evident: the meaning being, we were all concluded under and born in sin, and so actual objects of that wrath of God which is His mind against sin. ὀργή must not be taken as = τιμωρία, κόλασις, as Chrys., Thdrt., Basil, Thl., al.: this would in fact make the expression mean, actually punished: see above on τέκνα;—just as it now means, the actual objects of God’s wrath against sin), as also are (not, were) the rest (of mankind: not Gentiles, as those hold who take the ἡμεῖς πάντες of Jews,—see above: nor, as Stier, the rest of the Jews who disbelieved: but, all others, not like us, Christians).

Verse 4

4.] The construction is resumed, having been interrupted (see above on Ephesians 2:1) by the two relative sentences, ἐν αἷς ἐν οἷς. But (contrast to the preceding verse,—the ἔλεος and ἀγάπη, to the ὀργή just mentioned, δέ is, however, often used after a parenthesis where no such logical contrast is intended, the very resumption of the general subject being a contrast to its interruption by the particular clauses: see examples in Klotz, Devarius, II. 376, 7) God, being rich (the participial clause states the general ground, and the following διὰ τ. πολλ. ἀγ., the special or peculiar motive, of συνεζωοπ., De W.) in compassion (for ἐν, see reff. οὐχ ἁπλῶς ἐλεήμων, ἀλλὰ πλούσιος· καθάπερ καὶ ἐν ἑτέρῳ (Psalms 5:7; Psalms 68:13) φησὶν ἐν τῷ πλήθει τοῦ ἐλέους σου· κ. πάλιν (Psalms 1:1) ἐλέησόν με κατὰ τὸ μέγα ἔλεός σου, Chrys. ἔλεος, properly, as applying to our wretchedness before: cf. Ezekiel 16:6),—on account of His great love wherewith (the construction may be attractive: but it would appear from ref. 2 Kings, to be rather a Hellenistic idiom) He loved us (the clause belongs, not to πλού. ὢν ἐν ἐλ., as Calv., al., and E. V. necessarily, by ‘hath quickened’ following; but to the verb below. ἡμᾶς are all Christians; = ἡμεῖς πάντες in the last verse) even when we were dead (the καί belongs to, and intensifies, the state predicated by ὄντας νεκρούς; and is therefore placed before the participle. It is not to be taken as a mere resumption of Ephesians 2:1 (Rück., al.), nor as the copula only (Meyer). His objection to the above rendering, that a quickening to life can happen only in and from a state of death, and therefore no emphasis on such a state is required, is entirely removed by noticing that the emphasis is not on the mere fact ἐζωοποίησεν,—but on συνεζ. τῷ χριστῷ, with all its glorious consequences) in our ( τοῖς, the π. which we committed) trespasses (see on Ephesians 2:1), vivified (not ‘hath vivified’—a definite act in time, not an abiding consequence is spoken of) us together with Christ (the reading ἐν τ. χρ. (see var. readd.) seems to have arisen either from repetition of the - εν in συνεζωοποίησεν, or from conformation to Ephesians 2:6.

It is clearly not allowable to render χριστῷ, in Christ, as Beza,—without the preposition. It is governed by the συν-, and implies not exactly as Chrys., ἐζωοποίησε κἀκεῖνον κυὶ ἡμᾶς,—but that Christ was THE RESURRECTION and the Life, and we follow in and because of Him. The disputes about the meaning ἐζωοποίησεν have arisen from not bearing in mind the relation in N. T. language between natural and spiritual death. We have often had occasion to observe that spiritual death in the N. T. includes in it and bears with it natural death as a consequence, to such an extent that this latter is often not thought of as worth mentioning: see especially John 11:25-26, which is the key-text for all passages regarding life in Christ. So here—God vivified us together with Christ: in the one act and fact of His resurrection He raised all His people—to spiritual life, and in that to victory over death, both spiritual, and therefore necessarily physical also. To dispute therefore whether such an expression as this is past (spiritual), or future (physical), is to forget that the whole includes its parts. Our spiritual life is the primary subject of the Apostle’s thought: but this includes in itself our share in the resurrection and exaltation (Ephesians 2:6) of Christ. The three aorists, συνεζωοποίησεν, συνήγειρεν, συνεκάθισεν, are all proleptical as regards the actuation in each man, but equally describe a past and accomplished act on God’s part when He raised up Christ)—by grace ye are saved (this insertion in the midst of the mention of such great unmerited mercies to us sinners, is meant emphatically to call the reader’s attention to so cogent a proof of that which the Apostle ever preached as the great foundation truth of the Gospel. Notice the perf. ‘are saved,’ not σώζεσθε, ‘are being saved,’ because we have passed from death unto life: salvation is to the Christian not a future but a past thing, realized in the present by faith)—and raised us together with Him (the Resurrection of Christ being the next event consequent on His vivification in the tomb) and seated us together with Him (the Ascension being the completion of the Resurrection. So that all three verbs refer strictly to the same work wrought on Christ, and in Christ on all His mystical Body, the Church) in the heavenly places (see on ch. Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 1:20. “Obiter observa, non dixisse Apostolum: ‘et consedere fecit ad dexteram suam,’ sicut superiori capite de Christo dixerat: sedere enim ad dexteram Patris Christo proprium est; nec cuiquam alteri communicatur: tametsi in throno Christi dicantur sessuri qui vicerint, Apoc. iii. in fine.” Estius: and so Bengel) in Christ Jesus (as again specifying the element in which, as united and included in which, we have these blessings which have been enumerated— ἐν χρ. as in ch. Ephesians 1:3, does not (Eadie) belong to τ. ἐπουρ. but to the verb, as an additional qualification, and recalling to the fact of our union in Him as the medium of our resurrection and glorification. The disputes as to whether these are to be taken as present or future, actual or potential, literal or spiritual, will easily be disposed of by those who have apprehended the truth of the believer’s union in and with Christ. All these we have, in fact and reality (see Philippians 3:20), in their highest, and therefore in all lower senses, in Him: they were ours, when they were His: but for their fulness in possession we are waiting till He come, when we shall be like and with Him),

Verse 7

7.] that He might shew forth (see Romans 9:23 : and for ἐνδείξηται, reff. The middle voice gives the reference which the English sentence itself implies, that the exhibition is for His own purpose, for His own glory (see ch. Ephesians 1:6; Ephesians 1:12; Ephesians 1:14)—see note on Colossians 2:15. This meaning of præ se ferre is illustrated by Liddell and Scott sub voce: or far better by Palm and Rost, Lex.

Beware of the rendering ‘might give a specimen of, (Rückert, Eadie), which the word will not bear either here or in reff.) in the ages which are hereafter to come (what are they? the future periods of the Church’s earthly career,—or the ages of the glorified Church hereafter? The answer must be given by comparing this with the very similar expression in Colossians 1:26-27, … τὸ μυστήριον τὸ ἀποκεκρυμμένον ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων κ. ἀπὸ τῶν γενεῶν, νυνὶ δὲ ἐφανερώθη τοῖς ἁγίοις αὐτοῦ, οἷς ἠθέλησεν ὁ θεὸς γνωρίσαι τίς ὁ πλοῦτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ κ. τ. λ. Here it is manifest (1) that the αἰῶνες from which the mystery was hidden are the past ages of this world; (2) that those to whom, as here, God will make known the riches of His glory, are His saints, i.e. His church on earth. Therefore I conceive we are compelled to interpret analogously: viz. to understand the αἰῶνες ἐπερχόμενοι of the coming ages of the church, and the persons involved in them to be the future members of the church. Thus the meaning will be nearly as in ch. Ephesians 1:12.

The supposed reference to the future state of glory seems not to agree with αἰῶ νες, nor with ἐπερχόμενοι:—nor with the fact that the second coming and future kingdom of Christ are hardly ever alluded to in this Epistle) the exceeding riches of His grace in (of the material of which this display of His grace will consist, the department in which it will find its exercise) goodness (see especially Romans 2:4) towards us in (not ‘through,’ as E. V.) Christ Jesus (again and again he repeats this “in Christ Jesus:” HE is the great centre of the Epistle, towards whom all the rays of thought converge, and from whom all blessings flow; and this the Apostle will have his readers never forget).

Verse 8

8.] For by grace (the article shews us the import of the sentence—to take up and expand the parenthetic clause χάριτί ἐστε σεσωσμένοι above: but not barely so: that clause itself was inserted on account of the matter in hand being a notable example of the fact, and this γάρ takes up also that matter in hand—the ὑπερβάλλον πλοῦτος κ. τ. λ) ye are (perf.) saved, through [your] (or [the], but the possessive article is preferable, see below: ‘the’ would make both objective. The abstract, ‘through faith,’ must be the rendering if the article be omitted) faith (the dative above expressed the objective instrumental condition of your salvation,—this διὰ the subjective medial condition: it has been effected by grace and apprehended by faith): and this (not your faith, as Chrys. οὐδὲ ἡ πίστις, φησίν, ἐξ ὑμῶν: so Thdrt., al., Corn.-a-Iap., Beza, Est., Grot., Beng., all.;—this is precluded (not by the gender of τοῦτο, but) by the manifestly parallel clauses οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν and οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων, of which the latter would be irrelevant as asserted of πίστις, and the reference of Ephesians 2:9 must therefore be changed:—but, as Calv., Calov., Rück., Harl., Olsh., Mey., De W., Stier, al., ‘your salvation;’ τὸ σεσωσμένοι εἶναι, as Ellic.) not of yourselves, GOD’S (emphatic) is the gift (not, as E. V. ‘it is the gift of God’ ( θεοῦ δῶρον),— τὸ δῶρον, viz. of your salvation: so that the expression is pregnant—q. d., ‘but it is a gift, and that gift is God’s.’ There is no occasion, as Lachm., Harl., and De W., to parenthesize these words: they form a contrast to οὐκ ἐξ ὑμ., and a quasi-parallel clause to ἵνα μή τις καυχήσ. below): not of works (for ἐξ ἔργων, see on Romans 3:4, and Galatians 2:16), that no man should boast (on the proposition implied, see on Romans 4:2. ἵνα, has in matter of fact its strictest telic sense. With God, results are all purposed; it need not be understood, when we predicate of Him a purpose in this manner, that it was His main or leading aim;—but it was one of those things included in His scheme, which ranked among His purposes).

Verse 10

10.] For (substantiates Ephesians 2:8-9. The English reader is likely to imagine a contrast between ‘not of works’ and ‘for we are His workmanship,’ which can hardly have been in the mind of the Apostle) his handywork are we ( ποίημα, not, as Tert. and al., of our original creation: “quod vivimus, quod spiramus, quod intelligimus, quod credere possumus, ipsius est, quia ipse conditor noster est,” Pelagius, in Harl.: this is clearly refuted by the defining clause below, κτισθ. κ. τ. λ., and the ποίημα shewn to be the spiritual creation treated of in Ephesians 2:8-9), created in Christ Jesus (see Ephesians 2:15, ἵνα τοὺς δύο κτίσῃ ἐν αὐτῷ εἰς ἕνα καινὸν ἄνθρωπον, and cf. Titus 3:5, where the beginning of this new life is called παλιγγενεσία. See also 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15) for (see reff.: so Xen. Anab. vii. 6. 3, καλεῖ αὐτοὺς ἐπὶ ξενία. See Winer, edn. 6, § 48, c. e; Phrynichus, ed. Lobeck, p. 475) good works (just as a tree may be said to be created for its fruit: see below), which, (attraction for : not ‘for which,’ which would require ἡμᾶς after the verb) God before prepared (‘ante paravit, quam conderet.’ Fritz., in Ellic. So Philo, de Opif. 25, vol. i. p. 18, ὁ θεὸς τὰ ἐν κόσμῳ πάντα προ ητοίμασεν: Wisdom of Solomon 9:8, μίμημα σκηνῆς ἁγίας ἣν προ ητοίμασας ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς. The sentiment is the same as that in John 5:36, τὰ ἔργα ἃ ἔδωκέν μοι ὁ πατὴρ ἵνα τελειώσω αὐτά. To recur to the similitude used above, we might say of the trees,—they were created for fruits which God before prepared that they should bear them: i.e. defined and assigned to each tree its own, in form, and flavour, and time of bearing. So in the course of God’s providence, our good works are marked out for and assigned to each one of us. See the doctrine of præ-existence in God explained in Delitzsch’s biblische Psychologie, p. 23 ff. Stier’s view, after Bengel, is that the verb προητ. is neuter, having no accusative after it,—‘for which God made preparation, &c.:’ but this usage of the compound verb wants example) that we should walk in them. Thus the truth of the maxim “bona opera non præcedunt justificandum, sed sequuntur justificatum” (see Harl.) is shewn. The sentiment is strictly pauline (against De W. and Baur),—in the spirit of Romans 12, Galatians 5:22; Galatians 5:25, &c.

Verse 11

11.] Wherefore (since so many and great blessings are given by God to His people, among whom ye are) remember, that once ye, the (i.e. who belonged to the category of the) Gentiles in the flesh (i.e. in their corporeal condition of uncircumcision: ‘præputium profani hominis indicium est,’ Calv.—construction see below), who are called (the) uncircumcision by that which is called (the) circumcision in the flesh wrought by hands (this last addition ἐν σαρκὶ χειρ. seems made by the Apostle, not to throw discredit on circumcision, but as a reserve, περιτομή having a higher and spiritual application: q.d.—‘but they have it only in the flesh, and not in the heart.’ As Ellic. well states the case—“The Gentiles were called, and were the ἀκροβυστία: the Jews were called, but were not truly the περιτομή.” See Colossians 2:11),

Verses 11-22


Verse 12

12.] that ye were (the ὅτι takes up again the ὅτι in Ephesians 2:11, after the relative clause,—and the τῷ κ. ἐκείνῳ takes up the ποτέ there. It is not a broken construction, but only a repetition; ‘that, I say.…’) at that time (when ye were,—not τὰ ἔθνη ἐν σαρκί, which ye are now, and which is carefully divided from ποτέ above by ὑμεῖς,—but that which is implied in ποτέ,—heathens, before your conversion to Christ. On the dative of time without the preposition ἐν, see Kühner, vol. ii. § 569, and remarks on its difference from the genitive and accusative) without Christ (separate from, having no part in, the promised Messiah. That this is the sense, is evident from Ephesians 2:13 : see below. The words χωρ. χρ. are not a defining clause to ἦτε ἀπηλ λοτρ., as Lachmann points them, and De W. and Eadie render: ‘that ye were, being without Christ, &c.’ The arrangement would thus be harsh and clumsy beyond all precedent) alienated from ( οὐκ εἶπε, κεχωρισμένοιπολλὴ τῶν ῥημάτων ἡ ἔμφασις, πολὺν δεικνῦσα τὸν χωρισμόν. ἐπεὶ καὶ ἰσραηλῖται τῆς πολιτείας ἦσαν ἐκτός, ἀλλʼ οὐχ ὡς ἀλλότριοι ἀλλʼ ὡς ῥᾴθυμοι, κ. τῶν διαθηκῶν ἐξέπεσον, ἀλλʼ οὐχ ὡς ξένοι, ἀλλ ὡς ἀνάξιοι, Chr. Gentiles and Jews were once united in the hope of redemption—this was constituted, on the apostasy of the nations, into a definite πολιτεία for the Jews, from which and its blessings the Gentiles were alienated) the commonwealth ( πολιτεία is both polity, state (objective),— τῶν τὴν πόλιν οἰκούντων τάξις τις, Aristot. Polit. iii. 1,—and right of citizenship, ref. Acts. The former appears best here, on account of ἀπηλλοτρ., which seems to require as its reference an objective external reality) of Israel (either as synonymous genitive, ‘that commonwealth which is designated by the term Israel,’ or possessive (as Ellic.) ‘that commonwealth which Israel possessed.’ I prefer the former, as more simple) and strangers from (so Soph. Œd. Tyr. 219, ʼ γὼ ξένος μὲν τοῦ λόγου τοῦδʼ ἐξερῶ, ξένος δὲ τοῦ πραχθέντος. The genitive may be explained either 1) as one of the quality, as in μέλεος ἥβης, εὐδαίμων μοίρας,—or as 2) one of privation = negative of possession, ξένος being resolved into οὐ μέτοχος. This latter is perhaps the best. See Bernhardy, p. 171 ff.; Kühner, ii. 163) the covenants of the promise ( τίνες ἦσαν αἱ δ. τ. ἐπ.; “ σοὶ κ. τῷ σπέρματί σου δώσω τ. γῆν ταύτην,” κ. ὅσα ἕτερα ἐπηγγείλατο, Chrys. See note on Romans 9:4. The meaning here, as there, has been mistaken (Calv. al.) to be ‘the two tables of the law.’ Cf. Wisdom of Solomon 18:22; Sirach 44:11), not having ( μή on account of the subjective colouring given to the whole sentence by μνημονεύετε. So in ἀπιστοῦντες αὐτὸν μὴ ἥξειν, Thuc. ii. 101: ὃ ἂν γνῶσι δυνάμενον μὲν χάριν ἀποδιδόναι, μὴ ἀποδιδόντα δέ, Xen. Cyr. i. 2. 7: ψυχὴν σκοπῶν φιλόσοφόν τε καὶ μή, Plato, Rep. p. 486 B. See Winer, § 55. 5; Kühner, ii. § 715. 3) hope (not ‘covenanted hope’ ( τὴν ἐλπ.),—but ‘hope’ at all. The emphatic position of ἐλπίδα makes this the more necessary) and without God (this is the best rendering, as it leaves ἄθεος in its latitude of meaning. It may be taken either 1) actively, ‘denying God,’ ‘atheist,’ 2) in a neuter sense (see Ellic.)—‘ignorant of God’ ( ἔρημοι θεογνωσίας, Thdrt.: see Galatians 4:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:5, where the Gentiles are described as οὐκ εἰδότες τ. θεόν), or 3) passively, ‘forsaken of God’ (so Soph. Œd. Tyr. 661, ἐπεὶ ἄθεος ἄφιλος ὅ τι πύματον ὀλοίμαν: ib. 254, τῆσδέ τε γῆς, ὧδʼ ἀκάρπως κἀθέως ἐφθαρμένης). This latter meaning is best here, on account of the passive character of the other descriptive clauses) in the world (contrast to the πολιτεία τοῦ ἰσρ. “He subjoins to the godless ‘How,’ the godless ‘Where,’ ” Mey. Olsh. understands, ‘in this wicked world, in which we have so much need of divine guidance,’ which is hardly in the simple words: Rück., ‘in God’s world,’ contrast to ἄθεοι. These words must not be separated, as some, from ἄθεοι).

Verse 13

13.] But now (contrast to ἐν τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ) in Christ (not merely ἐν χριστῷ as you were χωρὶς χριστοῦ, but more—in a personal Messiah, whom you know as) Jesus (there is hardly a reference to the meaning of Jesus—much rather to its personal import—q.d. ‘Now in Jesus the Christ’) ye who once were far off were brought (keep the historic tense: it is the effect of a definite event of which he is speaking. The passive sense of the passive form ἐγενήθητε is well kept where the context justifies it, but must not always be pressed: see Ellic.’s note on ch. Ephesians 3:7) near (it was a common Jewish way of speaking, to designate the Gentiles as ‘far off.’ So Bereshith rabba, in Schöttg., Hor. Heb. in locum, ‘Quicunque gentilem appropinquare facit, eumque ad religionem Judaicam perducit, idem est ac si creasset ipsum.’ See also reff. Isa. and Dan.) in (or the instrument by which, but more—the symbol of a fact in which—the seal of a covenant in which,—your nearness to God consists. I prefer ‘in’ to ‘by,’ as wider, and better representing the Apostle’s idea. The difference between ἐν here and διὰ in ch. Ephesians 1:7 is, that there the blood of Christ is spoken of specifically, as the medium of our ἀπολύτρωσις—here inclusively, as representing the ἀπολύτρωσις. ἐν would have served there, and διὰ here, but the logical exactness of both would have been weakened by the change) the blood of Christ (see remarks on ch. Ephesians 1:7).

Verse 14

14.] For He (there certainly is an emphasis on αὐτός, as Rück., Harl., Mey., Ellic., Eadie, ‘He and none other.’ This can hardly be denied by any one who will read through the whole from Ephesians 2:11, and mark the repetitions, χριστοῦχριστῷ ἰησοῦτοῦ χριστοῦ, which this αὐτός takes up) is our peace (not by metonymy for εἰρηνοποιός, but in the widest and most literal sense, our peace. He did not make our peace and then retire, leaving us to enjoy that peace,—but is Himself its medium and its substance; His making both one was no external reconciliation, but the taking both, their common nature, on and into Himself,—see Ephesians 2:15. Bear in mind the multitude of prophetic passages which connect peace with Him, Isaiah 9:5-6; Isaiah 52:7; Isaiah 53:5; Isaiah 57:19; Micah 5:5; Haggai 2:9; Zechariah 9:10 : also Luke 2:14; John 14:27; John 20:19; John 20:21; John 20:26. And notice that already the complex idea of the whole verse, that of uniting both Jews and Gentiles in one reconciliation to God, begins to appear: for He is our Peace, not only as reconciling Jew to Gentile, not as bringing the far-off Gentile near to the Jew, but as reconciling both, united, to God; as bringing the far-off Gentile, and the near Jew, both into peace with God. For want of observing this the sense has been much obscured: see below) who made (specification, how He is our peace. Better ‘made,’ than ‘hath made:’ the latter is true, but it is the historic fact which is here brought out) both (Jews and Gentiles; not ‘man and God,’ as Stier: cf. Ephesians 2:15-16. Neuter, as abstract,—both things, both elements) one, and (epexegetic—‘namely, in that he’) threw down the middle wall of the fence (i.e. the middle wall which belonged to—was a necessary part of the carrying out of—the φραγμός. The primary allusion seems to be to the rending of the veil at the crucifixion: not that that veil separated Jew and Gentile, but that it, the chief symbol of separation from God, included in its removal the admission to Him of that one body into which Christ made Jew and Gentile. This complex idea is before the Apostle throughout the sentence: and necessarily; for the reconciliation which Christ effected between Jew and Gentile was in fact only a subordinate step of the great reconciliation of both to God, which He effected by His sacrifice in the flesh,—and in speaking of one he speaks of the other also. The φραγμός, from what has been said above, is more general in sense than the μεσότοιχον; is in fact the whole arrangement, of which that was but an instrument—the separation itself, consequent on a system of separation: it = therefore the whole legal system, ceremonial and moral, which made the whole separation,—of Jew from Gentile,—and in the background, of both from God), the enmity (not, of Jew and Gentile: so strong a term is not justified as applying to their separation, nor does such a reference satisfy Ephesians 2:16,—see there;—but, the enmity in which both were involved against. God, see Romans 8:7. τὴν ἔχθ. is in apposition with τὸ μεσότ. This enmity was the real cause of separation from God, and in being so, was the inclusive, mediate cause of the separation between Jew and Gentile. Christ, by abolishing the first, abolished the other also: see below) in His flesh (to be joined not with καταργήσας, as most Commentators, which is very harsh, breaking the parallelism, and making the instrumental predication precede the verb, which is not the character of this passage;—but with λύσας. Christ destroyed the μεσ., i.e. the ἔχθρα, in, or by, His flesh; see on Ephesians 2:16, where the same idea is nearly repeated. It was in His crucified flesh, which was ἐν ὁμοιώματι σαρκὸς ἁμαρτίας, that He slew this enmity. The rendering, ‘the enmity which was in His flesh,’ would certainly in this case require the specifying article τήν, besides being very questionable in sense),—having done away the law of decretory commandments (this law was the φραγμός,—the great exponent of the ἔχθρα. Its specific nature was that it consisted in commandments, decretorily or dogmatically expressed;—in ἐντολαὶ- ἐν- δόγμασιν. So that we do not require τὸν ἐν δόγ. or τῶν ἐν δόγ. This law, moral and ceremonial, its decalogue, its ordinances, its rites, was entirely done away in and by the death of Christ. See Colossians 2:13-15, notes. And the end of that κατάργησις was) that He might create the two (Jew and Gentile) in Him (it is somewhat difficult to decide between ἑαυτῷ and αὐτῷ. On the one hand, αὐτῷ is the harder reading: on the other, we have the constant confusion of αὐτ., αὑτ., and ἑαυτ., complicating the question. Whichever be read, the reference clearly must be to Christ, which, with αὐτῷ, is, to say the least, a harsh recurrence to the αὐτός of Ephesians 2:14) into one new man (observe, not that He might reconcile the two to each other only, nor is the Apostle speaking merely of any such reconciliation: but that He might incorporate the two, reconciled in Him to God, into one new man,—the old man to which both belonged, the enemy of God, having been slain in His flesh on the Cross. Observe, too, ONE new man: we are all in God’s sight but one in Christ, as we are but one in Adam), making peace (not, between Jew and Gentile: He is ἡ εἰρήνη ἡμῶν, of us all: see below on Ephesians 2:17), and (parallel with the former purpose: not ‘second purpose’ (Ellic., De W.), which yet must thus be the first. The καί is in fact just as in Ephesians 2:14) might reconcile again (most likely this is implied in the ἀπο. We have it only in Colossians 1:20-21, where the same sense, of reinstating in the divine favour, seems to be intended) both of us in one body (not His own human body, as Chrys. (who however seems to waver,—cf. ἕως ἂν μένωμεν ἐν τῷ σώματι τοῦ χριστοῦ,—between this and His mystical body) al.—but the Church, cf. the same expression Colossians 3:15) to God (if this had not been here expressed, the whole reference of the sentence would have been thought to be to the uniting Jews and Gentiles. That it is expressed, now shews that throughout, that union has been thought of only as a subordinate step in a greater reconciliation) by means of the cross (the cross regarded as the symbol of that which was done on and by it), having slain the enmity ( ἔχθρα has been taken here to mean the enmity between Jew and Gentile. But see on Ephesians 2:15 : and let us ask here, was this the enmity which Christ slew at His death? Was this the ἔχθρα, the slaying of which brought in the ἀποκατάλλαξις, as this verse implies? Does such a meaning of ἔχθρα at all satisfy the solemnity of the sentence, or of the next two verses? I cannot think so: and must maintain ἔχθρα here (and if here, then in Ephesians 2:15 also) to be that between man and God, which Christ did slay on the cross, and which being brought to an end, the separation between Jew and Gentile, which was a result of it, was done away. Ellicott, who maintained the above opinion in his 1st edn., now agrees with that here insisted on) on it (on the cross: compare Colossians 2:15, notes: not in His body: see above): and having come, He preached (how? when? Obviously after his death, because by that death the peace was wrought. We seek in vain for any such announcement made by Him in person after his resurrection. But we find a key to the expression in John 14:18, οὐκ ἀφήσω ὑμᾶς ὀρφανούς· ἔρχομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς: see also John 14:28. And this coming was, by his Spirit poured out on the Church. There is an expression of St. Paul’s, singularly parallel with this, and of itself strongly corroborative of the genuineness of our Epistle, in Acts 26:23, εἰ παθητὸς ὁ χριστός, εἰ πρῶτος ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν φῶς μέλλει καταγγέλλειν τῷ τε λαῷ κ. τοῖς ἔθνεσιν. This coming therefore is by His Spirit (see on Ephesians 2:18), and ministers, and ordinances in the Church) peace to you who were far off, and peace to those (not “to us,” for fear of still upholding the distinction where he wishes to merge it altogether) that were nigh (this εἰρήνη is plainly then not mere mutual reconciliation, but that far greater peace which was effected by Christ’s death, peace with God, which necessitated the union of the far off and the near in one body in Him. This is shewn especially by the repetition of εἰρήνην. See Isaiah 57:19.

Then follows the empowering reason, why He should preach peace to us both: and it is this Ephesians 2:18 especially which I maintain cannot be satisfied on the ordinary hypothesis of mere reconciliation between Jew and Gentile being the subject in the former verses. Here clearly the union (not reconciliation, nor is enmity predicated of them) of Jew and Gentile is subordinated to the blessed fact of an access TO GOD having been provided for both through Christ by the Spirit); for (not epexegetic of εἰρήνην, ‘viz. that …,’ as Baumg.-Crus.) through Him we have our access (I prefer this intransitive meaning to that maintained by Ellic., al., ‘introduction,’—some (Mey.) say, by Christ (1 Peter 3:18) as our προσαγωγεύς (admissionalis, a word of Oriental courts),—not as differing much from it in meaning, but as better representing, both here and in Romans 5:2, and ch. Ephesians 3:12, the repetition, the present liberty of approach, which ἔχομεν implies, but which ‘introduction’ does not give), both of us, in (united in, 1 Corinthians 12:13) one Spirit (not ‘one frame of mind’ (Anselm, Koppe, al.): the whole structure of the sentence, as compared with any similar one, such as 2 Corinthians 13:13, will shew what spirit is meant, viz. the Holy Spirit of God, already alluded to in Ephesians 2:17; see above. As a parallel, cf. 1 Corinthians 12:13) to the Father.

Verse 19

19.] So then ( ἄρα οὖν is said by Hermann (Viger, art. 292) not to be classical Greek. It is frequent in St. Paul, but confined to him: see reff. Cf. on Galatians 6:10) ye no longer are strangers and sojourners (see ref. Acts, where certainly this is the sense. “ πάροικος is here simply the same as the classic μέτοικος (a form which does not occur in the N. T., and only once, Jeremiah 20:3, in the LXX), and was probably its Alexandrian equivalent. It is used frequently in the LXX,—in eleven passages as a translation of נַּר, and in nine of תּוֹשָׁב .” Ellicott. ‘Sojourners,’ as dwelling among the Jews, but not numbered with them. Bengel opposes ξένοι to ‘cives’ and πάροικοι to ‘domestici,’—and so Harless: but this seems too artificial), but are fellow-citizens with the saints ( συμπολίτης is blamed by Phrynichus (ed. Lob. p. 172: see Lobeck’s note) and the Atticists as a later word. But it occurs in Eur. Heraclid. 821, and the compound verb συμπολιτεύω is found in pure Attic writers: see Palm and Rost’s Lex. πολῖται would not here express the meaning of comrades, co-citizens, of the saints. οἱ ἅγιοι are not angels, nor Jews, nor Christians then alive merely, but the saints of God in the widest sense,—all members of the mystical body of Christ,—the commonwealth of the spiritual Israel) and of the household ( οἰκεῖοι, not as Harl., ‘stones of which the house is built,’ which is an unnatural anticipation here, where all is a political figure, of the material figure in the next verse: but, members of God’s family,’ in the usual sense of the word) of God,—having been built (we cannot express the ἐπ-: the ‘superædificati’ of the Vulg. gives it: we have the substantive ‘superstructure,’ but no verb corresponding. There is, though Harl. (see above) denies it, a transition from one image, a political and social, to another, a material) upon the foundation (dative as resting upon: in 1 Corinthians 3:12, where we have εἴ τις ἐποικοδομεῖ ἐπὶ τὸν θεμέλιον …, the idea of bringing and laying upon is prominent, and therefore the case of motion is used. Between the genitive and dative of rest with ἐπί there is the distinction, that the genitive implies more partial overhanging, looser connexion,—the dative, a connexion of close fitting attachment. So in Xen. we have, ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς τὰ ὅπλα ἔφερον, partial, ‘over,’— οἱ θρᾷκες ἀλωπεκίδας ἐπὶ ταῖς κεφαλαῖς φοροῦσι, close, ‘on:’ see Donaldson’s Greek Gr. § 483) of the Apostles and Prophets (how is this genitive to be understood? Is it a genitive of apposition, so that the Apostles and Prophets themselves are the foundation? This has been supposed by numerous Commentators, from Chrys. to De Wette. But, not to mention the very many other objections which have been well and often urged against this view, this one is to my mind decisive,—that it entirely destroys the imagery of the passage. The temple, into which these Gentiles were built, is the mystical body of the Son, in which the Father dwells by the Spirit, Ephesians 2:22. The Apostles and Prophets (see below), yea, Jesus Christ Himself, as the great inclusive Head Corner Stone (see again below), are also built into this temple. (That He includes likewise the foundation, and IS the foundation, is true, and must be remembered, but is not prominent here.) Clearly then the Apostles and Prophets cannot be the foundation, being here spoken of as parts of the building, together with these Gentiles, and with Jesus Christ Himself. But again, does the genitive mean, the foundation which the Apostles and Prophets have laid? So also very many, from Ambrst., to Rück., Harl., Mey., Stier, Ellic., both edd. As clearly,—not thus. To introduce them here as agents, is as inconsistent as the other. No agents are here spoken of, but merely the fact of the great building in its several parts being built up together. The only remaining interpretation then is, to regard the genitive as simply possessive: ‘the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets,’ = ‘the Apostles’ and Prophets’ foundation’—that upon which they as well as yourselves are built. This exegesis, which I find ascribed to Bucer only (in De W.), seems to me beyond question the right one. See more below.

But (2) who are προφῆται? They have commonly been taken, without enquiry, as the O. T. Prophets. And certainly, the sense, with some little straining, would admit of this view. They may be said to be built upon Christ, as belonging to that widest acceptation of His mystical body, in which it includes all the saints, O. T. as well as N. T. But there are several objections: first, formal: the order of the words has been urged against this view, in that προφ. should have come first. I should not be inclined to lay much weight on this; the Apostles might naturally be spoken of first, as nearest, and the Prophets second—‘the Apostles, yea and of the Prophets also.’ A more serious formal objection is, the omission of the article before προφ., thereby casting τῶν ἀποστόλων κ. προφητῶν together as belonging to the same class. But weightier objections are behind. In ch. Ephesians 3:5, we have ὃ ἑτέραις γενεαῖς οὐκ ἐγνωρίσθη τοῖς νἱοῖς τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ὡς νῦν ἀπεκαλύφθη τοῖς ἁγίοις ἀποστόλοις αὐτοῦ κ. προφήταις ἐν πνεύματι, where unquestionably the προφῆται are N. T. Prophets; and again ch. Ephesians 4:11, καὶ αὐτὸς ἔδωκεν τοὺς μὲν ἀποστόλους, τοὺς δὲ προφήτας. And it is difficult to conceive that the Apostle should have used the two words conjoined here, in a different sense. Even stronger is the consideration arising from the whole sense of the passage. All here is strictly Christian,—post-Judaic,—consequent on Christ’s death, and triumph, and His coming preaching peace by the Spirit to the united family of man. So that we must decide for προφ. being N. T. Prophets: those who ranked next to the Apostles in the government of the church: see Acts 11:27, note. They were not in every case distinct from the Apostles: the apostleship probably always including the gift of prophecy: so that all the Apostles themselves might likewise have been προφῆται), Christ Jesus Himself (the αὐτοῦ exalts the dignity of the temple, in that not only it has among its stones Apostles and prophets, but the Lord Himself is built into it. The attempt of Bengel, al., to render αὐτοῦ, ‘its,’ and refer it to θεμελίῳ, will be seen, by what has been said, to be foreign to the purpose. Besides, it would more naturally be ὄντος αὐτοῦ ἀκρογ.… Bengel’s idea, that on our rendering, it must be αὐτοῦ τοῦ, is refuted by such passages as καὶ αὐτὸς δαυείδ, Luke 20:42) being the Head corner stone (see, besides reff., Ps. 117:22; Jeremiah 28(51):26; Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11. The reference here is clearly to that Headstone of the Corner, which is not only the most conspicuous but the most important in the building: “qui, in extremo angulo (fundamenti, but qu.?) positus, duos parietes ex diverso venientes conjungit et continet,” Est. Builders set up such a stone, or build such a pillar of brick, before getting up their walls, to rule and square them by. I must again repeat, that the fact of Jesus Christ being Himself the foundation, however it underlies the whole, is not to be brought in as interfering with this portion of the figure),

Verse 21

21.] in whom ( ὁ τὸ πᾶν συνέχων ἐστὶν ὁ χριστός, Chr.: not only so, but He is in reality the inclusive Head of the building: it all ἐν αὐτῷ συνέστηκεν, is squared and ruled by its unity to and in Him) all the building (more properly πᾶσα ἡ οἰκοδ.: and to a classical Greek ear, any other rendering of πᾶσα οἰκ. than ‘every building,’ seems preposterous enough. But ‘every building’ here is quite out of place, inasmuch as the Apostle is clearly speaking of but one vast building, the mystical Body of Christ: and πᾶσα οἰκ. cannot have Meyer’s sense ‘every congregation thus built in:’ nor would it be much better to take refuge in the proper sense of οἰκοδομή, and render ‘all building,’ i.e. ‘every process of building,’ for then we should be at a loss when we come to αὔξει below. Are we then to render ungrammatically, and force words to that which they cannot mean? Certainly not: but we seem to have some light cast here by such an expression as πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως, Colossians 1:15, which though it may be evaded by rendering ‘of every creature,’ yet is not denied by most Commentators to be intended to bear this sense ‘of all creation:’ cf. also Colossians 1:23, ἐν πάσῃ κτίσει τῇ ὑπʼ οὐρανόν. The account to be given of such later usages is, that gradually other words besides proper names became regarded as able to dispense with the article after πᾶς, so that as they said first πᾶσα ἱεροσόλυμα (Matthew 2:3), and then πᾶς οἶκος ἰσραήλ (Acts 2:36), so they came at length to say πᾶσα κτίσις (as we ourselves ‘all creation,’ for ‘all the creation’) and πᾶσα οἰκοδομή, when speaking of one universal and notorious building. Ellic. adds to the examples, πᾶσα γῆ, Thucyd. ii. 43, πᾶσα ἐπιστολή, Ignat. Eph. § 12, p. 656.

οἰκοδομή itself is a late form, censured by Phryn. (Lob. p. 421) and the Atticists) being framed exactly together (the verb (= συναρμόζω) sufficiently explains itself, being only found in these two places (ref.). Wetst. quotes ἡρμολόγησε τάφον from Anthol. iii. 32. 4, and Palm and Rost refer for ἁρμολογέω to Philip of Thessalonica, Ep. 78) is growing (there seems no reason why the proper sense of the present should not be retained. Both participle and verb imply that the fitting together and the growing are still going on: and the only way which we in English have to mark this so as to avoid the chance of mistake, is by the auxiliary verb substantive, and the participle. The bare present, ‘groweth,’ is in danger of being mistaken for the abstract quality, and the temporal development is thus lost sight of: whereas the other, in giving prominence to that temporal development, also necessarily implies the ‘normal, perpetual, unconditioned nature of the organic increase’ (Ellic.)) to (so ‘crescere in cumulum,’ Claudian in Piscator) an holy temple in the Lord (i.e. according to apostolic usage, and the sense of the whole passage, ‘in Christ.’ The ἐν ᾧ ἐν κυρίῳ.— ἐν ᾧ,—like the frequent repetitions of the name χριστός in Ephesians 2:12-13, are used by the Apostle to lay all stress on the fact that Christ is the inclusive Head of all the building, the element in which it has its being and its growth. I would join ἐν κυρίῳ with ναὸν ἅγιον, as more accordant with the Apostle’s style than if it were joined with αὔξει ( αὔξει ἐν κυρ. εἰς ναὸν ἅγ.), or with ἅγιον ( εἰς ναὸν ἐν κυρίῳ ἅγ.). The increase spoken of will issue in its being a holy temple in Christ),

Verse 22

22.] in whom (not ‘in which,’ viz. the temple—it is characteristic (see above) of this part of the epistle to string together these relative expressions, all referring to the same) ye also (not, as Eadie, ‘even you:’ there is no depreciation here, but an exaltation, of the Gentiles, as living stones of the great building) are being built in together (with one another, or with those before mentioned. An imperative sense (‘Ephesios hortatur ut crescant in fide Christi magis et magis postquam in ea semel fuerunt fundati,’ Calv.) is not for a moment to be thought of: the whole passage is descriptive, not hortatory) for (Griesb. parenthesizes with two commas, ἐν ᾧ συνοικοδομεῖσθε, and takes this εἰς as parallel with the former εἰς. But this unnecessarily involves the sentence, which is simple enough as it stands) an habitation of God (the only true temple of God, in which He dwells, being the Body of Christ, in all the glorious acceptation of that term) in the Spirit (it is even now, in the state of imperfection, by the Spirit, dwelling in the hearts of believers, that God has His habitation in the Church: and then, when the growth and increase of that Church shall be completed, it will be still in and by the Holy Spirit fully penetrating and possessing the whole glorified Church, that the Father will dwell in it for ever. Thus we have the true temple of the Father, built in the Son, inhabited in the Spirit: the offices of the Three blessed Persons being distinctly pointed out: God, THE FATHER, in all His fulness, dwells in, fills the Church: that Church is constituted an holy Temple to Him in THE SON,—is inhabited by Him in the ever-present indwelling of the HOLY SPIRIT. The attempt to soften away ἐν πνεύματι into πνευματικῶς ( ναὸς πνευματικός, Chrys., and so Thl., Œc., al., and even Olsh.) is against the whole sense of the passage, in which not the present spiritual state of believers, but their ultimate glorious completion ( εἰς) is spoken of. See reff.).


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Ephesians 2:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

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