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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

Ephesians 2

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

EPHESIANS CHAPTER 2

Ephesians 2:1-3 Paul setteth before the Ephesians their former

corrupt heathen state,

Ephesians 2:4-7 and God’s rich mercy in their deliverance.

Ephesians 2:8-10 We are saved by grace, not of works, yet so as to be

created in Christ unto good works.

Ephesians 2:11-18 They who were once strangers, and far from God, are

now brought near by Christ’s blood; who having

abolished the ritual law, the ground of distinction

between Jew and Gentile, hath united both in one

body, and gained them equal access to the Father.

Ephesians 2:19-22 So that the Gentiles are henceforth equally privileged

with the Jews, and together with them constitute a holy

temple for the habitation of God’s Spirit.

And you hath he quickened; his verb quickened is not in the Greek, but the defect of it may be supplied from Ephesians 1:19, thus: The greatness of his power to us-ward, and to you that were dead in trespasses and sins; the remaining part of that chapter being included in a parenthesis, which, though long, yet is not unusual. Or rather, as our translators and others do, from Ephesians 2:5 of this chapter, where we have the word quickened. It imports a restoring of spiritual life by the infusion of a vital principle, (in the work of regeneration), whereby men are enabled to walk with God in newness of life.

Who were dead; piritually, not naturally; i.e. destitute of a principle of spiritual life, and so of any ability for, or disposedness to, the operations and motions of such a life.

In trespasses and sins:he preposition in is wanting in the Greek by an ellipsis, but the expression is full, Colossians 2:13; this dative case therefore is to be taken in the sense of the ablative. By these words he means either all sorts of sins, habitual and actual, less or greater; or rather, promiscuously and indifferently, the same thing several ways. expressed. Sin is the cause of spiritual death; where sin reigns, there is a privation of spiritual life.


Verse 2

Wherein in time past ye walked; conversed in a continual course of life. They were alive to sin, when dead in sin; or by sin dead to spiritual good.

According to the course of this world; either according to the age of the world that then was, or men then in the world, or according to the custom and mode, the shape and fashion, of the world. The same word here translated course is rendered world, Romans 12:2:

Be not conformed (configured or fashioned) to this world, i.e. to the ways and manners of it. So here,

according to the course, is, according to the ways of men in the world, both in manners and religion.

According to the prince; the devil, or, as Matthew 12:24,26, the prince of devils.

Of the power; power for powers, as they are called, Ephesians 6:12: those devils, or powers of darkness, are marshalled under him as their prince, who sets up a kingdom to himself in opposition to Christ.

Of the air; that are in the air, this lower region, (by God’s permission), that they may be ready and at hand to tempt men, and do mischief in the world. Or, that work so many effects in the air, raise storms and tempests, &c., as in the case of Job and his children.

The spirit that now; even at this time, since the coming of the gospel, still continues to work.

Worketh in; effectually works in; rules, and governs, and acts them, 2 Timothy 2:26.

The children of disobedience, by a Hebraism; they that are addicted to disobedience, i.e. obstinate sinners.


Verse 3

Among whom also we all; we apostles and believers of the Jews. Either Paul by a coenosis reckons himself among them, though not guilty with them; or rather, though he were not an idolater as the Ephesians, yet he had been a blasphemer, and a persecutor, 1 Timothy 1:13; and though he were blameless as to the righteousness of the law, Philippians 3:6, yet that was only as to his outward conversation, and still he might fulfil the desires of a fleshly mind.

Had our conversation; walked in the same way after the course of the world, &c.

In the lusts of our flesh: flesh is here taken more generally for depraved natures, the whole principle of corruption in man.

Fulfilling the desires of the flesh; the inferior and sensitive faculties of the soul, as appears by the opposition of the flesh to the mind.

And of the mind; the superior and rational powers, to denote the depravation of the whole man even in his best part, and which seems to have rectitude left in it: to the former belongs the filthiness of the flesh, to the latter that of the spirit, 2 Corinthians 7:1: see Romans 8:7 Galatians 5:19-21.

And were by nature; not merely by custom or imitation, but by nature as now constituted since the fall.

The children of wrath, by a Hebraism, for obnoxious to wrath; as sons of death, 1 Samuel 26:16, for worthy of or liable to death.


Verse 4

Rich in mercy; abundant. Riches of mercy here, as riches of grace, Ephesians 1:7; see Psalms 51:1 86:5.

For his great love; the fountain from whence his mercies vouchsafed to us proceed; riches of mercy from great love: God shows mercy to us miserable creatures in time, because he loved us from eternity, viz. with a love of good will.

Wherewith he loved us, both Jews and Gentiles; there being the same original cause of the salvation of both.


Verse 5

Hath quickened us; hath raised us up from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, not only in our justification, in which God frees us from our obnoxiousness to eternal death, and gives us a right to eternal life, who before were dead in law, (though this may be included), but especially in our regeneration, by the infusion of a vital principle.

Together with Christ; either:

1. God, in quickening Christ, hath also quickened us; Christ’s quickening, or receiving his life after death, being not only the type and exemplar of our spiritual enlivening or regeneration, but the cause of it, inasmuch as we are quickened, as meritoriously by his death, so effectively by his life: Christ, as having died and risen again, exerciseth that power the Father gave him of quickening whom he will, John 5:21. Or:

2. In Christ as our Head virtually, and by the power of his resurrection actually. Or:

3. By the same power whereby he raised up Christ from the dead, Ephesians 1:20. See the like expression, Colossians 2:13.

(By grace are ye saved); some read the words without a parenthesis, supplying by whose, and so refer them to Christ, quickened us together with Christ, by whose grace ye are saved; but if the parenthesis stand, yet here seems to be a connection with the foregoing words, at least a reason of the apostle’s bringing in these; for having mentioned God’s great love, Ephesians 2:4, as the cause of their spiritual enlivening here, which is the beginning of their salvation, he infers from thence that the whole of their salvation is of grace, i.e. alike free, and as much out of God’s great love, as the beginning of it, viz. their quickening, is.


Verse 6

And hath raised us up together; either this may be understood of a further degree of spiritual life in the progress of sanctification vouchsafed to believers in this world; or rather, of the resurrection of the body, which is said to be raised together with Christ, because it is to be raised by the same power that raised him up, and by virtue of his resurrection, in which we have fellowship with him, as being united to him.

And made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, as our Head, and representative. Our spiritual enlivening {Ephesians 2:5} we have not only fundamentally in Christ when restored to life, but actually begun in ourselves in our effectual calling; but the resurrection of our bodies, and our sitting in heaven, we have not as yet actually fulfilled in ourselves, yet have it in Christ our Head, who rose for us and we in him, and sits in heaven for us, and we in him may be said to sit there too, by reason of our union with him, and being members of him.


Verse 7

That in the ages to come; in all succeeding generations while the world continues.

He might show, &c.; as in an instance or specimen, 1 Timothy 1:16: q.d. God’s kindness to us believers in this age, since Christ’s coming, is such an instance of

the exceeding riches of his grace, as may be an encouragement to future generations to embrace the same Christ in whom we have believed.

Through Christ Jesus; by and through whom God conveys all saving benefits to us.


Verse 8

For by grace, the free favour of God, as Ephesians 2:5, are ye, even ye Ephesians, Gentiles, who had not such promises made to you as the Jews had, Ephesians 2:12,

saved, from first to last, from your calling, Ephesians 2:5, to your glorification, Ephesians 2:6.

Objection. How are believers said to be saved, when they are not yet glorified?

Answer.

1. Because Christ their Head is glorified.

2. Because their salvation, begun in their effectual calling, shall be as certainly accomplished in them as it is begun in them, and perfected in their Head, Christ.

Through faith; by which ye lay hold on the grace offered you in the gospel. Faith is not considered here as a work done by us, but as an instrument or means applying the grace and salvation tendered to us.

And that not of yourselves; not for your own worth, nor by your own strength.

It is the gift of God; that ye are saved is the gift of God, and therefore free and purely by grace.

God is opposed to self: gift relates not merely to faith immediately preceding, but to the whole sentence.


Verse 9

Not of works; any works whatever, and not only works of the ceremonial law: for if they only were excluded, the opposition between God and man, grace and works, were not right, which yet we find so often elsewhere; {see Romans 11:6} men might not be saved by works of the ceremonial law, and yet still be saved by works, and of themselves.

Lest any man should boast; glory in their own works or worth, as men are apt to do when they think they have any thing of their own which contributes to their salvation see Romans 3:27 4:2.


Verse 10

For we, we believers, both Jews and Gentiles, are his workmanship; not only as men, but especially as saints, which is the proper meaning here. The Israelitish people formerly were God’s work, Deuteronomy 32:6 Isaiah 43:21 44:21; so are believers under the gospel, being new creatures, Galatians 6:15. The apostle confirms what he said before, that by grace we are saved, and not of works, in that we are God’s workmanship, and are formed by him ere we can do any good work; and his forming us in our regeneration is a part of the salvation mentioned Ephesians 2:8.

Created in Christ Jesus; who, as our Head, enlivens us, as members united to him by faith. As the first creation was by Christ as the Second Person in the Trinity, John 1:3, so the second creation is by the same Christ as Mediator, the Lord and Head of the new creation, in whom we live, and move, and have our new being, and not in ourselves, 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Unto good works: as the immediate end for which we are new-created. We receive our new being that we may bring forth new works, and have a carriage suitable to our new principle.

Which God hath before ordained; or rather, as the margin, prepared, i.e. prepared and fitted us for them, by enlightening our minds to know his will, disposing and inclining our wills, purging our affections, &c.

That we should walk in them; i.e. that we should glorify God in a holy conversation, agreeable to that Divine nature, whereof we are made partakers in our new creation.


Verse 11

In the flesh; either:

1. Carnal, unregenerate, as Romans 8:8,9. Or rather:

2. Uncircumcised in the flesh, as well as in heart, Ezekiel 44:7; such as neither had the grace signified, nor the sign representing it.

Who are called Uncircumcision, by way of reproach; to be uncircumcised being the badge of them that were not Israelites, and so were not in the number of God’s people.

By that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; i.e. by those that are circumcised; the abstract here, as in the former clause, being put for the concrete. He means the carnal Jews, who had the circumcision of the flesh which was made with hands, but not that of the heart, Romans 2:29, made without hands, Colossians 2:11.


Verse 12

That at that time ye were without Christ; i.e. without knowledge of him, or interest in him. This is the foundation of all other miseries, as Christ is the foundation of all saving good, and therefore the apostle begins with this.

Being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel; the church of God, confined formerly to the Israelites: their church and state was the same body, and God the founder of and lawgiver to them in both respects.

And strangers from the covenants of promise; those covenants in which the great promise of Christ and salvation by him was made. The covenants were several, as that with Abraham, and that by Moses, and differ in some accidents, but the promise in them was one and the same, which was the substance of each.

Having no hope; viz. beyond this life; as they could not but be who were without Christ, and without the promises.

And without God; not without some general knowledge of a God, but without any saving knowledge of him, as not knowing him in Christ: or they lived as without God, neglecting him, and being neglected by him, and suffered to walk in their own ways.

In the world; which is the congregation of the wicked, and is here opposed to the church.


Verse 13

But now in Christ Jesus; either in the kingdom of Christ, or gospel administration, Galatians 5:6; or, ye being in Christ, united to him by the Spirit and faith. Being

in Christ, here, is opposed to being in the world, Ephesians 1:12.

Ye who sometimes were far off; far from God, from his church, from his promises, &c., having no communion with him by his Spirit. He means a spiritual distance, yet seems to allude to Isaiah 49:1,12; those Gentiles there mentioned being estranged from God in their hearts, as well as removed from his people in place.

And made nigh; brought into a state of communion with God and his people, and participation of their privileges, and right to the promises.

By the blood of Christ; the merit of his death expiating sin, (which caused this distance), and so making way for their approach to God, and enjoyment of gospel blessings.


Verse 14

For he is our peace; i.e. Peace-maker, or Mediator of peace, both between God and man, and between Jew and Gentile. He is called

our peace, as elsewhere our righteousness, redemption, salvation. God is said to reconcile us, 2 Corinthians 5:19, but Christ only to be our peace.

Who hath made both one; i.e. one body, or one people, or one new man, Ephesians 3:15.

And hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having taken away the ceremonial law, which was as a wall of separation between Jew and Gentile, as appears in the next verse. It seems to be an allusion to that wall of the temple which parted between the court of the people into which the Jews came, and the outmost court, that of the Gentiles, who, when they came to worship, might not come into the other court, and were excluded by this wall.


Verse 15

Having abolished; abrogated, taken away the power of binding men.

In his flesh; not the flesh of sacrificed beasts but his own flesh: before he mentioned his blood, and now his flesh, to imply the whole sacrifice of Christ, comprehending his flesh as well as blood. The ceremonies had their accomplishment in Christ, and so their abolishment by him.

The enmity; by a metonymy he so calls the ceremonies, which were the cause and the sign of enmity between Jew and Gentile: the Jews hated the Gentiles as uncircumcised, and the Gentiles despised the Jews for being circumcised.

Even the law of commandments contained in ordinances: either, by

the law of commandments, the apostle means the law of ceremonial rites, and by the word which we render

ordinances, he means doctrine, and then (the word contained not being in the Greek) the sense is, that Christ, by his doctrine or commandments, abolished those ceremonial rites: the word commandments seems thus to be used, Deuteronomy 16:12 1 Kings 2:3 Ezekiel 18:21. Or else (which yet comes to the same) the word rendered ordinances signifies such ordinances as depended upon the sole will of the lawgiver; and is, Colossians 2:14, taken for ceremonial ones, and so is to be taken here. This the apostle seems to add, to show what part of the law was abrogated by Christ, viz. nothing of the moral law, but only the ceremonial.

For to make, or create, or form, in opposition to abolish.

In himself; by union with himself, as the Head, in which the several members agree.

Of twain; two bodies, or two people, Jews and Gentiles.

One new man; i.e. new body, or new (viz. Christian) people. As the body of a commonwealth is one civil person, so the body of the church is in a like sense one person.

So making peace, between Jew and Gentile, having taken away those ceremonial laws, which were the cause of the difference between them.


Verse 16

And that he might reconcile both unto God; another end of Christ’s abolishing the ceremonial law, viz. that he might reconcile both Jew and Gentile (all the elect together) unto God: and in this respect especially he is our peace.

In one body; either both people united as one mystical body, or rather this one body here, is the body of Christ offered up to God as the means of reconciliation, Colossians 1:22.

By the cross; i.e. by the sacrifice of himself upon the cross.

Having slain the enmity thereby; the enmity between God and man, by the expiation of sin, the cause of it. Of this enmity the ceremonial law was a witness, Colossians 2:14, as well as a sign of that between Jew and Gentile.


Verse 17

And came; partly in his own person, as to the Jews, and partly by his apostles, whom he appointed to preach the gospel to the Gentiles: so 2 Corinthians 13:3.

And preached peace to you which were afar off; far from the knowledge of the truth, from Christ, and salvation by him, as Ephesians 3:13.

And to them that were nigh; nigh in comparison of the Gentiles, nigh by the knowledge of God and his law, and the promises of the Messiah: see Isaiah 57:19.


Verse 18

For through him, as our Mediator and Peace-maker, who hath reconciled us to God,

we both have access, are admitted or introduced,

by one Spirit unto the Father; by the Holy Ghost, who is our Guide to lead us to the Father, as Christ is the way by which we go to him, John 14:6. As there is but one Mediator through whom both Jews and Gentiles come to God, so but one and the same Spirit, Ephesians 4:4.


Verse 19

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners; such are they that may dwell in a city, but are not free of it. He means the same as Ephesians 3:12, they were not now aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, &c. But fellow citizens with the saints; members of the same spiritual society or corporation with other saints, patriarchs, prophets, &c. The church of God is compared to a city, of which every saint is a member or free-man, Philippians 3:20.

And of the household of God: the church is here compared to a house, as 1 Timothy 3:15. They are said to be of the household that belong to it, but especially the children. Among men, servants are counted domestics; but with God, none but his children.


Verse 20

And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets; the foundation which the apostles and prophets laid by their preaching, viz. Christ, whom they held forth as the only Mediator between God and man, the only Saviour and head of the church: see 1 Corinthians 3:11.

Foundation, in the singular number, to imply the unity of their doctrine centring in Christ:

apostles and prophets, whose office was to preach, not kings and patriarchs.

Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone; as both supporting the building by his strength, and uniting the several parts of it, Jew and Gentile: see Matthew 21:42 Psalms 118:22. They that are of chief authority are called the corners of a people, as sustaining the greatest burden, 1 Samuel 14:38 Isaiah 19:13.

Objection. If Christ be the corner-stone, how is he the foundation?

Answer. The same thing may have different denominations in different respects; Christ is called a foundation, 1 Corinthians 3:11, a corner-stone, 1 Peter 2:6, a temple, John 2:19, a door, John 10:7, a builder, Matthew 16:18; so here again a corner-stone, and yet laid for a foundation, Isaiah 28:16.


Verse 21

In whom; or upon whom, viz. Christ the foundation.

All the building; whatsoever is built on Christ the foundation, and so all particular believers, as the several parts of the building.

Fitly framed together; joined and united both to Christ the foundation by faith, and to each other by love.

Groweth; either:

1. Ariseth; the building goeth on till it comes to be a temple. Or:

2. It notes the stones or materials of the house to be living ones, receiving life from Christ, 1 Peter 2:5. Growth supposeth life. The verb is in the present tense, to signify that the builders are still at work, and this temple not yet finished.

Unto an holy temple; in allusion to the temple at Jerusalem; whereas the holy of holies was a type of heaven, so the temple itself was a type of the church, both as it was the place of God’s presence, and of his worship.

In the Lord: either this must be joined to

groweth, and then it is a pleonasm, the antecedent being here repeated, though the relative had been expressed, and it implies the growth of believers (the materials of this spiritual building) to be from Christ; or it may be joined with holy, and then it signifies that they have their holiness from Christ; or it may be read, holy to the Lord, and then it expresses the nature of this temple, that it is undefiled, consecrated to the Lord, and meet for him.


Verse 22

An habitation of God; a temple where God may dwell. Not only the whole collection of believers is called the temple of God, but particular churches and particular saints are so called, because of God’s dwelling in them by his Spirit: see 1 Corinthians 3:16,17 6:19.

Through the Spirit: this may relate either to the words immediately going before,

an habitation of God, and then the meaning is, an habitation or temple in which God dwells by his Spirit; or to the verb

builded, and then they import the building of them into a temple to be the operation of the Spirit, working that faith and love in them whereby they are united to Christ the foundation, and to the several parts of the building.

 


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Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ephesians 2:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/ephesians-2.html. 1685.


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