Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
1. And you—St. Paul now begins from Ephesians 1:20, in order to furnish, in Ephesians 2:1-10, the parallel of the Ephesian spiritual resurrection with Christ’s bodily resurrection. Meyer opposes this connecting with Ephesians 1:20, because of the change from the first person plural, us who believe, Ephesians 2:19, to the second person, and you. But the you is to the we as a part to a whole, and so subject to the same statement.
Hath he quickened—As the italics indicate, these words are supplied by the translators to furnish a verb to govern the objective you. The words are in sense borrowed from Ephesians 2:5, where the verb is introduced with the objective changed to us.
Dead—Under the entire death which sin works—death temporal, spiritual, and eternal. Dr. Eadie and others in vain object that they were not in reality temporally dead. Nor were they, we reply, in reality raised with Christ and made to sit together in heavenly places. Yet both statements are conceptually true, and all parts of the redemption are taken as one whole. Note, 2 Corinthians 5:14. Redemption raises from the death that sin inflicts upon us. In— Rather, by. The more natural rendering of the Greek makes the death the effect of the trespasses and sins. The terms trespasses and sins run into each other in meaning, yet there is a general distinction. The trespass is the more secular, the sin the more religious term. The former is more uniformly a distinct act, sometimes an inadvertent one; the latter is often a habit, a moral state or condition. In the former more distinctly appears the idea of an offence against another; in the latter a guilt, or penalty, or depravation, contracted upon ourselves.
II. HISTORICAL INCLUSION OF THE EPHESIANS IN THE DIVINE ELECTIVE PURPOSE, Ephesians 2:1 to Ephesians 3:21.
1. Recapitulation of their original death and subsequent resurrection, Ephesians 2:1-10.
In parallelism with Christ’s resurrection and exaltation in Ephesians 1:20-23, St. Paul pictures the conceptual death of the Ephesians by sin, and their resurrection and exaltation with Christ. Their state of death, Ephesians 2:1-3; their resurrection and exaltation with Christ, Ephesians 2:4-6. The reason of this, a showing to the ages of his grace, Ephesians 2:7. A present reminder to the Ephesians that they are saved solely by this grace, Ephesians 2:8-10.
2. Wherein, according to the Greek, properly refers to sins, implying an habitual course of trespasses. Walked, together with had conversation and fulfilling, in Ephesians 2:3, shows that Paul is not describing the congenital depravity of the Ephesians as a state, but their course of practical adult depraved conduct. This is specially important to note, in order to a true understanding of the last half of Ephesians 2:3.
The course of this world—The aeon of this cosmos. Both aeon and cosmos are often translated world.
But the latter more usually signifies the world-frame, the physical creation, the former the world-period, and the spirit of that period. This world is terrene in opposition to the heavenly. The aeon is the temper of the age.
The prince of the power of the air—Dr. Eadie well says: “The prince of darkness is not only prince, but god of this world, (2 Corinthians 4:4,) and his power is mentioned, Acts 26:18. Again, he is styled prince of this world, John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11. His principality is spoiled, Colossians 2:15, and Jesus came to destroy his works, 1 John 3:8.
Believers are freed from his power, 1 John 5:18; Colossians 1:13.” Power is used, as above in Ephesians 1:21, to signify the body of powerful beings— the hierarchy, or rather demonarchy, collectively embodied. Of the air, signifies the place in which the demonarchy exist and hold empire. So when we speak of throwing a stone into the air, we refer not to the element, but to the space. So Acts 22:23 : “They threw dust into the air.” And 1 Thessalonians 4:17 : “To meet the Lord in the air.” In both places the reference is not to the aerial matter, but to the visible vicinity, the region over the earth’s surface. This is in entire accordance with the uniform view, both scriptural and popular, that spirits of both good and evil belong to our terrene sphere. A spirit region overlies the earth’s surface, like a stratum of atmosphere.
“Millions of spirits walk the earth unseen,
Both when we sleep and when we wake.”
So in Job 1:7, Satan describes himself as “going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.” Our Lord beheld Satan as falling from heaven toward earth. Luke 10:18. So demons, as from the aerial space, possess demoniacs. These views were held by the Jewish doctors, and by the later Greek philosophers and theosophists. Plutarch says, The “air below the pure ether, and below the pure heaven, is full of gods and demons.” “Nay,” says Dr. Eadie, “Augustine held that the demons were penally confined to the air” as to a prison. If (see note on Ephesians 4:9) hades or the infernum is at the subterranean centre, it would seem by this to extend its domain into the atmospheric heaven. Or, reversely, the seat of the demonarchy may be in the aerial, extending to the earth’s centre.
The spirit—This word is not, as the English reader would naturally suppose, in apposition with prince, but with power. This power, the collective body of the demonarchy, is in thought and words concentrated into a spirit, identified with a controlling influence in wicked men. From the spirit region over earth, where they dwell, they settle down like a malaria into the souls of the depraved.
Worketh in—Operating like a poison in their hearts; deranging their intellects and inflaming their passions.
Children of disobedience—Literal Greek, sons of disobedience; but in the next verse, not in the Greek sons, but children, of wrath. In accordance with a well-known Hebrew idiom the term son, or child, is often figuratively used to signify any quality for which a person is or was distinguished. The Greeks could say, “sons of the Greeks,” as we can say, “sons of America.” But the Hebrews could call the morning star “son of the morning.” They could call an unspiritual interpreter a “son of the letter.” So, Mark 3:17, “sons of thunder.” Luke 10:6, literal Greek, “a son of peace.” Similarly, according to the Greek, 1 Thessalonians 5:5, “sons of the day.” John 12:36, “sons of light.” Luke 16:8, “sons of this age.” Luke 20:36, “sons of the resurrection.” In such use of the words son and child, no idea of being born of the quality or circumstance is retained, as a survey of the instances will amply show.
Disobedience—To the moral law, as shown in both heart and life.
3. Among whom—Namely, the children of disobedience.
Conversation—Daily intercourse and conduct.
Flesh—Animal appetites and mind governed by them.
Desires—Wills or volitions.
Flesh and… mind—The lower and the higher depraved tendencies.
Were—This verb corresponds with had and walked. Contemporaneously with our evil courses, and underlying them, was a nature by which we were children of wrath. The divine wrath condemned not only our guilty persons, but it reached more deeply—to our very nature. On the phrase children of wrath, consult what we have said on the phrase children of disobedience, in Ephesians 2:2. But the Greek in Ephesians 2:2 is, properly, sons; here, children. Robinson’s New Testament Lexicon says: “By Hebrew genitive case, the child of any thing is one connected with, partaking of, or exposed to, any thing; often put instead of an adjective.” Matthew 11:19 and Luke 7:35, “Wisdom is justified of her children.” Ephesians 5:8, “Children of light,” that is, enlightened. 1 Peter 1:14, “Obedient children.” 2 Peter 2:14, “Cursed children.” So Septuagint, “Children of perdition.” A survey of these cases will show:—1. The absurdity of understanding that the expression children of wrath, has the least shadow of implying that men are born of the wrath of God. 2. A survey of such phrases as “child of hell,” “son of perdition,” shows that it will not do to affirm, with Eadie, that the phrase means more than exposed to the matter of which one is child. The “child of hell” was yet untouched by hell, though exposed to it.
So the child of wrath may be not touched by the wrath of God, yet liable to become so.
A thing is said to be thus or so by nature when it is so by birth or origin, or by growth, in distinction from being made so. A free agent is so by nature when he grows so in regular and normal conditions. See our work on “The Will,” p. 249. Now the question here is, (overlooked by commentators like Eadie and Hodge,) Does the phrase by nature children of wrath mean that the wrath lies upon the child at birth, or not? We affirm the negative, and believe it can be overwhelmingly proved. It is essentially the question of “infant damnation.” Josephus says, that David was “just and pious by nature;” certainly not in his infancy, but as he developed into manhood. Herodian says, that “barbarians are property-loving by nature;” not, certainly, in infancy, but in their adult development. AElian says, “The Cean is silver-loving by nature;” that is, when he has grown old enough to contract that love. AElian says, “The Athenians were envious by nature;” not so at birth, certainly, but by the character into which they grew. So AElian again, “warlike by nature;” and Philo, “peaceful by nature.” All the examples (most of which we take from Wetstein) imply, to be sure, a natural tendency at birth to the condition or character into which they grow; but not the condition itself. That is, they prove that the infant possesses the tendency apart from grace, to come into a subjection to the wrath of God, and so prove innate depravity; but do not prove that it is born under the wrath of God. The words do not decide that the infant is responsible for its inborn tendency, and so deserving of damnation at birth. The doctrine that the child is born under damnation lies in the very centre of the standard predestinarian system. That system assumes that any and every infant might be sent to hell forever, justly, and without a Saviour. On that assumption it bases its views of the mercy of God in redemption. Arbitrary reprobation is claimed to be just because all might be justly so doomed for original sin alone, without the commission of a single sin.
We hold, on the contrary, that though sinward tendencies exist in germ in the infant, yet there is no responsibility, and no damnability, until these tendencies are deliberately and knowingly acted in real life, and by that action appropriated and sanctioned. Then the man is condemned both for the guilt of the act and the pravity of his nature, now responsibly assumed and ready to be acted out, as described in Ephesians 2:1-2. See note, Romans 5:18.
But if the infant is irresponsible, how can Christ be to him a pardoner of sin and a Saviour? We might reply, that it does not make Christ any pardoner of sin to imagine a factitious sin, or a guilt which has no foundation in the nature of things. The pardon will remain just as factitious, just as merely verbal, as the guilt to be pardoned. But Christ still stands a Saviour to the infant, as we hold, in the following respects: 1. We have elsewhere shown that had Christ not been given the race would, in all probability, not have been permitted to be propagated after the fall. Notes on John 14:19, and Romans 11:32. So the grace of Christ underlies the very existence of every human being that is born. 2. Between the infant descendant of fallen Adam and God there is a contrariety of moral nature, by which the former is irresponsibly, and in undeveloped condition, averse to the latter, and so displacent to Him. By Christ, the Mediator, that averseness is regeneratively removed, and the divine complacency restored: so that the race is enabled to persist under the divine grace. 3. Christ, in case of infant death, entirely removes the sinward nature, so as to harmonize the being with the holiness of heaven. 4. Christ is the infants’ justifier against every accuser, (note on Romans 8:29,) whether devils, evil men, or mistaken theologians; asserting their claim through his merits, in spite of their fallen lineage, to redemption and heaven. Being thus purified, justified, and glorified by Christ, none are more truly qualified to join in the song of Moses and the Lamb.
If it be said, Yes, the infant sinned in Adam, we reply, (as in our note on Romans 5:12,) that the New Testament nowhere says that he “sinned in Adam.” It is contrary to fact that he did so thousands of years before he had any existence. Still, as there are in law what are called “legal fictions,”
so in theology there may be “theological fictions.” Such fictions are modes of figurative idea by which surrounding or analogous truths may be more vividly realized; as, for instance, where it is said of man and wife, “they twain are one flesh.” But such fictions must be so applied as not to contradict axiomatic truth and good. If from the oneness of man and wife theologians literally infer that the wife must die when the husband does, and so burn her on the funeral pile, they transform the fiction into a direful lie. And yet this would not be a millionth part as bad as the theologians picture God to be, when they make him hold infants to be justly condemnable to hell forever because, forsooth, “they sinned in Adam!”
If, however, we must say that infants “sinned in Adam,” let us be consistent, and add, but they also became justified in Christ. So Fletcher of Madeley beautifully puts it; as the entire race, infants and all, sinned, died, and went to hell before they were born, but only “seminally” and conceptually in Adam, so they are all redeemed and saved conceptually in Christ; and so are born into the world justified heirs of the atonement and heaven. Then fiction meets fiction; and beauty, truth, and reason are the outcome.
But if infants die, and death is the consequent of sin, why do sinless infants die? Because, we reply, in the fall the supernatural Spirit of holiness, by which man was raised above the natural law of death, was withdrawn from Adam and his posterity; and he and they were surrendered over to nature. See notes on Romans 5:12-19; Romans 11:32. And by nature, as an animal being, and by the law of material nature, he disintegrates and dies. So the justified and sanctified adult dies. For such are, under Christ, the laws of our probationary being, established after the fall, that death arising from nature is not repaired by immediate immortality of body, but by a bodily resurrection after the era of mere nature with us has past.
Even as others—Literally, as also the rest. The rest of whom? All the commentators that we have consulted, Alford, Ellicott, Eadie, Meyer, etc., have, obviously, missed the true answer. Some, as Meyer, make it the Gentiles, as in addition to Jews; but nothing has been said of Jews or Gentiles thus far. Others, as Ellicott and Alford, make it signify the rest of mankind; but the words are too slight to cover so wide an extent. The true meaning is, the rest of the children of disobedience, in Ephesians 2:2. Paul’s train of ideas is: The devil worketh in the children of disobedience, among whom we indulged the same lusts, and were by nature as depraved even as the rest.
4. God—It is to be remembered, according to our introductory Plan, page 253, that Paul is giving the divine side of man’s salvation in the whole of these first two chapters. Here he emphasizes, God, mercy, and grace, with persistent force and earnestness.
4-8. This passage is a pictorial parallel with Ephesians 1:20-23; and a pictorial contrast with Ephesians 2:1-3.
The parallel is drawn between the corporeal death, resurrection, and enthronement of Christ, and the death in sin and co-resurrection and co-enthronement of the Church with him. That a parallelism is intended, overlooked though it has been by commentators, is plain both from the progress of the two pictures and from the sameness of the terms used: raised… sit… heavenly places. And then parallel with the permanent glory of Ephesians 2:21-22, is the ages to come of glorious showing.
The contrast with Ephesians 2:1-3 is striking. They were dead in sin, in accord with Satan: whose power was in the lower air; they are raised and co-enthroned in accord with Christ in the heavenly places. And the perception of both this parallelism and this contrast enables us to decide the question, mooted by commentators, whether the death and resurrection here are only present and spiritual or also bodily. The entirety of our death by sin, namely, spiritual, bodily, and eternal, and the correspondent entire salvation, must be included in one conception. For it is this that is to be shown to the ages to come, Ephesians 2:7.
5. Even… dead—His mercy was alive when we were dead. He loved us even when we were most unlovely. Hence how truly is all by grace.
And, here, at the commencement of the picture of the redemptive process, at the first mention of our life-dawn in Christ, Paul flings abruptly in this hint, by grace… saved, preparatory to his expanding the complete statement at the close of the process, Ephesians 2:8. Mercy, goodness, grace, and all from nothing less than God, is what he is so impatient to bring out that he can hardly wait to state the process in which those glorious and melting attributes display themselves. This grace is understood best by emphasizing the even… dead—intensely. Dead; given over to darkness, depravity, the devil, and wrath; over that scene it is that the light of grace breaks with healing in its beams.
Quickened—Inspired with life; life for soul first, life for body next, life in eternity last.
With Christ—Who was raised, as pictured in Ephesians 1:20.
7. Ages to come—The rolling cycles of eternity. So long as the immortality of the redeemed shall endure, the riches of his grace will be shown, shown to what new worlds we know not. This will commence at the blessed period of the glorious summing up in Christ of Ephesians 1:10, (where see note,) and is brought to its consummation by the wonderful display of omnipotent power described in Ephesians 1:19, (where see note,) to a vivid view of which the apostle offers his continued and glowing prayer that the Ephesian eyes may be opened.
8. For—In view of this divine organic process now completely stated.
By grace—Gratis, for nothing in return.
Are ye saved—Not merely converted, justified, and sanctified; but gloriously saved—saved from death, the devil, and hell; saved to resurrection, Christ, God, and glory, in the full sight of the endless aeons to come.
Through faith—As the instrument in God’s hands; the handle by which he gets hold of us to snatch us from Satan and spring us into heaven. For the Greek preposition for through, here, is the preposition of instrumentality. Hence faith has three aspects. When, (1) it is said that God justifies us through faith, then faith is the instrument with which God rescues us from sin and hell. When (2) it is said “The just shall live by faith,” then faith is to us the means by which we live. When (3) it is said, “Believe and thou shall be saved,” then faith is the condition upon which we are justified, regenerated, and elected to holiness here and heaven hereafter. That faith is indeed empowered in us by the grace underlying our probation: but that faith freely exercised by us, and seen by God, is the underlying condition of our election in time; and foreseen by God is the underlying condition in our eternal election before the foundation of the world, as described in Ephesians 1:4; Ephesians 1:11, where see notes.
And be it especially noted that in St. Paul’s view there is no contradiction between the gratuity of our salvation and its conditionality. There is no contradiction between our being saved by grace and its being through faith; just because faith towards God, though a right thing in God’s creatures towards him, and an excellent thing in itself, is not a merit that pays God for any thing, or obligates him to any donation to us. It is his right to drop us into nothingness any moment he pleases, and no wrong is done us. Far less can our faith entitle us to pardon for past wickedness, to a blotting out of past books, and a conferring a glorious immortality at God’s right hand. Notwithstanding the free, rightful, excellent exercise in faith by us, every thing comes from God to us by grace. Surely the faith with which a beggar stretches forth his hand to receive the donation of thousands from a millionaire would not be a merit, a work, a compensation to the donor, neutralizing the graciousness of the gratuity. See note, Romans 3:24; Romans 3:27.
And what a reasonable, beautiful, and delightful condition proffered is this—simple coming into obedience to and harmony with God by a pure act of free, submitting, and confiding faith. It is at once the due act of a yielding rebel to a rightful sovereign, and of a returning prodigal to a rightful and ever gracious parent. Gracious, indeed! for it was while dead to God and alive to and with the devil, that God loved us and laid the plan of our rescue.
That… it—Both, as well as not of works, in next verse, refer to being saved, and not to faith. Faith is, indeed, truly said to be the gift of God; but it is faith as a power, not as an act, that is God’s gift. So sight is either a power or an act. Sight, as a power, is the gift of God; but sight, as an act, is our own exertion of power.
Not of yourselves—The whole structure of the apostle’s view of our rescue from the depths, and exaltation to the heights, and our consequent utter gratitude to God, is wholly overthrown if ours is a self-salvation. Our faith, as an act, natural and divinely empowered, is from ourselves: but not our salvation. The structure of that salvation requires all the power depicted in Ephesians 1:19.
Gift— Donation; not pay or wages earned.
9. Not of works—Neither the works of the Jewish ritual, nor the works of the moral law by Gentiles. If either ritual Jew or moral Gentile were saved, it would not be because of the value of their doings, but for that deep spirit-seated faith, according to their dispensation. It is the heart inspiring the act, and not the act, that saves. And that spirit of faith in Jew or Gentile would, if Christ were truly presented and understood, heartily embrace him.
Boast—A self-saviour needs no Christ-saviour. All Christ’s history in Ephesians 1:17-23, and all God’s mercy in 1-7, are to him null. He can boast, “I need no free pass; I pay my own way.”
10. His workmanship—Instead of our being the workers, God is the worker and we are the workmanship—the fact accomplished. Created by a new and better creation.
Unto good works—For we are not only elected from past faith, but we are elected unto good works. Note, Romans 9:13.
Before ordained—Literally, hath pre-prepared. God has not only constructed us, but he has also constructed a whole set of works and ways in which we should walk. He has planned a whole suit of Christian graces, active and passive; heavenly tempers and beneficent doings which he has modelled for us in Christ, and set before us, to exemplify in our own character and future history. There are ignorance, guilt, and misery enough in the world to call all our new life into Christ-like action. We may, like him, go forth and cause the blind to see, the lame to walk, and even to raise the dead—dead as the Ephesians, in Ephesians 2:1. God has beforehand written a good biography for every man to live. And his life may thereby be like that of Jesus himself—a blessed gospel.
11. Wherefore—In view of the gracious history of Ephesians 2:4-10.
Remember—Review your past heathen condition, in order to appreciate your present Christian blessedness.
Gentiles in the flesh—As being not circumcised Hebrews.
Uncircumcision—The reproachful epithet of the Jews upon all who possessed not the mark of the Abrahamic descent and covenant.
Made by hands—In distinction from the circumcision of the heart, made by the Spirit.
2. The unification of Jew and Gentile into this one elect Church, 11-22.
Thus far St. Paul has vividly imaged the elect Church as a unit. One God, one Christ, one faith, one glory. His picture is completed; and he has now time to remember (Ephesians 2:11) that his real, present, flesh-and-blood Ephesian Church is ethnically—that is, by race—a dual Church. Both sections, indeed, belong to the great Caucasian family. But one has come down through Shem, and Heber, and Abraham to the present hour. They have been religiously proud of so divine a descent. For it has come along down a line of heroes, kings, saints, and prophets. The other, starting from the same Noah, has come down through Japhet and Elishah, (Genesis 10:4,) and has thence been called Hellenic, or Greek. And these are proud of their genius, civilization, arts, and philosophy. The apostle now comes in with his Christ to wipe out and abolish this distinction, and to fuse them into one blessed Christian Church. There is but one Christ, one Spirit, one holy building, which is one temple inhabited by the Spirit.
This paragraph, like the preceding one, presents two contrasted pictures, a dark and a bright—the Ephesians of the past and the Ephesians of the present. Ephesians 2:11-12 correspond to 1-3; and Ephesians 2:13-22 correspond to 4-10. As we have elsewhere remarked, (note on Romans 8:39,) it is the apostle’s style to begin in gloom and end in glory.
12. Without Christ—This description of their heathen condition differs from that in Ephesians 2:1-3, in that the latter details dark, active wickedness, exciting abhorrence; whilst this presents details of destitution and unhappiness, touching the heart with pity. Without Christ, they were without every other blessedness; without holy citizenship, without the covenants, without hope, and without God—only in the world.
Aliens… Israel—Literally, Foreigners from the polity of Israel. They had no rights in the spiritual realm; no citizenship in the city of God, in the Jerusalem below, or the Jerusalem above.
Strangers… promise—In those blessed covenants in the archives of the holy city they, as unnaturalized foreigners, had no share and no knowledge. The Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants, and including both, Christ’s covenant of promise, conditioned on faith, had no promise for them.
No hope—There was in those covenants a blessed hope of pardon of sin, of immortality, and eternal life; but no hope therefrom for them. Dim hopes from nature there were, but nothing that Christianity could call a hope.
Without God—There was a God in Israel, revealed in the covenants, incarnate in Christ; but no God for them. They had a great fancy goddess. Artemis, (Diana;) but she was nothing but a many-breasted pantheistic conception. Notes, Acts 19:22-28. They were without God in all the world. They were solitaires, orphans, godless, and wanderers in the world, that was full of a father God. But the precise meaning of the clause in the world, (which has been something of a puzzle to commentators,) may be best seen by reversing the order of the clauses: In the world, without God, without hope. Its emphasis may thus appear; without hope, without God, yet—in the world! In an existence rendered by sin worse than non-existence!
Such is the picture, drawn with deep pathos by a tender yet true hand, of unregenerate heathendom! Well may Meyer query whether such a picture makes any allowance for the salvable heathen. It supposes no Socrates, Plato, or Aristides. But doubtless, in fact, there were among the pagan converts from Artemis too few such relieving exceptions to suggest any brightening of the picture. See notes, Acts 18:19. Perhaps he would have drawn a milder portraiture of the barbarians of Melita. Acts 28:1-6. Notes, Romans 2:14-15.
13. But now—O yes, now! What a glorious contrast between those times past and this now! With what pity from this now may these Christian Ephesians look back upon the heathen Ephesians they were in times past! And with what pity should all Christians look upon the hapless heathens who are still in those sad and hopeless times past! Being in Christ, these Ephesians have every point of contrast to their former miseries. They are not afar, but nigh, unified with the holy Israel, Ephesians 2:14-18. They are, with Israel, builded into one edifice, Ephesians 2:19-20; nay, into a temple, where the Holy Spirit resides, Ephesians 2:21-22.
In Christ Jesus—As identified with him, (note, Romans 6:3,) and incorporated with his mystical person; reverse of without Christ above.
Far off… nigh—In soul and nature. These were habitual terms with the Jews to designate those who were residents near the temple and the holy of holies, and those who resided at a distance from the temple and the grand altar, and especially pagans of foreign blood. And these terms were in accordance with Isaiah’s magnificent words: “Listen, O isles… from far,” Isaiah 49:1; and “Peace, peace, to him that is afar off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord,” Isaiah 57:19. By the blood of Christ, which had fulfilled, and so dismissed, the sacrificial rites of the Old Covenant.
14. Our peace—A triangular peace between Jew and Gentile, and between both and God. One of the Hebrew names for the Messiah was Shalom, Peace.
Made both one—Not by abolishing race distinctions in the physiological man, but by abolishing old antagonisms, and creating a new unity in Christian brotherhood.
The middle wall—The words, if not an allusion to the wall described in our notes on John 2:14, and Acts 21:28, are well illustrated by it.
15. In his sacrificial flesh on the cross. The triangular enmity above named. The Mosaic ritual law, consisting of a system of commandments, and comprised in a body of ordinances or statutory regulations.
In himself—As if embodying the twain into one new man—his own mystical person.
Peace—Leading to the threefold peace by which Jew and Gentile, being one in Christ, are one with God, as next verse.
16. Reconcile—The anticipation and commencement of the final reconciliation, (Colossians 1:20,) which is identical with the gather together of Ephesians 1:10.
In one body—Threefold of Jew and Gentile in Christ.
Thereby—By the cross.
17. And came—From heaven to earth at his first advent, announced by angels with “on earth peace.” His personal preaching, though limited to Jews, announced peace to all and for all.
And preached—He first made Palestine his school for teaching this peace; he performed the great work of slaying the enmity by the cross; and then through his apostles, inspired by the Spirit, he proclaimed peace to “all nations.”
18. For—In order to show how this peace is accomplished. It is by having, through him, as mediator, an access or introduction to the common Father of both, thereby rendering them brothers.
19. Fellow citizens—The bright reverse of the alienation and exile pictured in Ephesians 2:11-12.
Household—God is father of the family; the saints are its members; and both Jew and Gentile are a unit in this filial saintship.
20. And are built—Here the figure changes. From the family, here begins the building, put up with a very rapid and finished architecture. Its foundations are apostles and prophets. Not indeed their persons, but as the embodiments of the gospel they preached. The prophets are not of the Old Testament, but of the New, as in Ephesians 3:5; Ephesians 4:11.
Corner stone—The large stone laid by ancient builders at each corner to bind and hold the walls firmly together. See note Matthew 21:42. And this image beautifully expresses the unity of Jews and Gentiles by Christ.
21. All the building—The four walls, fastened by the corner stone, as different races are firmly bound into the Church by one common Christ.
Fitly framed together—Adjusted and united by one common gospel of peace.
Groweth—It is an ever growing building, expanding in time and space over the earth.
Holy temple—Not a temple of idolatry and sorcery, like the great fane of the Ephesian Artemis, but a spiritual temple more worthy than even the edifice on Moriah.
22. Ye—Ye Ephesians.
Also—As well as other saints and household of God.
Through the Spirit—As Jehovah dwelt in the holy of holies of the temple, having been visibly present at the dedication by Solomon.
Monday, March 27th, 2017
the Fourth Week of Lent
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