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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
Ephesians 1



Other Authors
Verse 1

1. Παῦλος. Without any associate, as in Romans 1:1. The absence of Timothy’s name, found both in Colossians and Philemon, may well be due to the general character both of the address and of the contents of the letter. It would be difficult to account for in a letter exclusively addressed to the Ephesians.

ἀπόστολος Χρ. . He is writing in his official capacity. He calls attention to the fact (ct. Philippians). But his claim needs neither defence (as in Gal.), nor careful definition (as in Rom.). He holds a commission from Christ Jesus Himself.

διὰ θελήματος θεοῦ. As in 1 and 2 Cor.; Col.; 2 Tim. The authority was conferred by the Risen Lord. See Acts 9:15; Acts 26:16; cf. Acts 22:21. But it was only an extension of the commission that the Lord Himself had received from His Father (cf. John 17:18). In bestowing it He was acting in His Father’s name (cf. Romans 1:5). So St Paul traces the source of his authority (as in Galatians 1:15, cf. Galatians 1:1) back to God.

θέλημα (Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 1:11, Ephesians 5:17, Ephesians 6:6) is a rare word in classical Greek. From its O. T. associations it connotes the determination of a will, not sovereign merely, but gracious; e.g. Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 62:4; Psalms 30[29]:6, 8 (see Cremer, Bib. Th. Lex.). Contrast κατʼ ἐπιταγήν, ‘in obedience to an express command,’ 1 Timothy 1:1; Titus 1:3; cf. Romans 16:26. The word recurs three times in the opening section of the Epistle. Notice esp. the light thrown on its meaning by the qualifying substantives, εὐδοκίαν (Ephesians 1:5), βουλήν (Ephesians 1:11).

τοῖς ἁγίοις κ.τ.λ. In 1 and 2 Thess. and Gal. St Paul addresses a Church or Churches. In 1 Cor. the address τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ τῇ οὔσῃ ἐν Κορίνθῳ is placed in apposition with ἡγιασμένοις ἐν Χ. ., κλητοῖς ἁγίοις. In 2 Cor. the address to the Church is combined with an address τοῖς ἁγίοις πᾶσιν τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Ἀχαίᾳ. In Rom., Philip. and Col., as here, the address to ‘the saints’ stands by itself without any express reference to the community to which they belonged. It is difficult to account for this variation. 1 and 2 Pet. and Jude conform to St Paul’s later usage. The letters in the Apocalypse on the other hand are sent to the Seven Churches (Ephesians 1:11). If ἐν Ἐφέσῳ be omitted the address of the Epistle becomes quite general as 2 Peter 1:1; Judges 1:1; and Romans 1:7 according to the reading of G. The phrase or an equivalent is however better retained. In any case the address specifies three points, characteristic of Christians everywhere, on which stress will be laid throughout the Epistle. They are ἅγιοι. They are πιστοί. They are both ἅγιοι and πιστοί because they have found their true position ἐν Χ. .

τοῖς ἁγίοις. ‘Saints,’ i.e. members of God’s Covenant People consecrated by God for Himself by His own act. See Ephesians 1:15, Ephesians 2:19, Ephesians 3:8; Ephesians 3:18, Ephesians 4:12, Ephesians 5:3, Ephesians 6:18. The position requires a moral and spiritual response on man’s part to the Divine standard which it is the object of the Divine blessing (Ephesians 1:4) and Christ’s sacrifice (Ephesians 5:27) to secure. Cf. Hort on 1 Peter 1:15.

τοῖς οὖσιν. The analogy of Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Philip. Ephesians 1:1 shows that a geographical description must have followed.

καὶ πιστοῖς. Cf. for combination with ἅγιοι, Colossians 1:1 only. ‘Faithful.’ The word may mean simply ‘trustworthy’ (cf. Ephesians 6:21, πιστὸς διάκονος) or ‘believing.’ As a Christian characteristic (the mark by which the Christian ‘Saints’ were distinguished from the unbelieving Jews who yet were ἅγιοι, cf. οἱ ἐκ περιτομῆς πιστοί, Acts 10:45) the second meaning predominates. In Past. Epp. it is used absolutely as descriptive of Christians clearly in this sense. See 1 Timothy 4:3; 1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Timothy 5:16; 1 Timothy 6:2; Titus 1:6; cf. Revelation 17:14. Cf. vv. Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 1:15; Ephesians 1:19.

ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. The third characteristic which underlies and substantiates the first two. We must beware (see Lightfoot on Colossians 1:4) of connecting ἐν with πιστὸς as defining the object of faith. It is the regular phrase throughout the Epistle to describe the true position of the Christian, the source of all his life and power and privilege. See Ephesians 2:6-7; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 2:13, Ephesians 3:6, cf. Ephesians 3:21; cf. ἐν Χριστῷ, Ephesians 1:3, ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ, Ephesians 1:10, ἐν κυρίῳ, Ephesians 2:21. Here, as in Colossians 1:2, membership in Christ Jesus is both the ground of their consecration (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:2; Philippians 1:1) and the source of their faith (cf. on Ephesians 1:15) or faithfulness (cf. Ephesians 6:21). Cf. Intr. pp. lxii.–lxxvi.

Verses 1-14


The title in its earliest form is simplest: πρὸς Ἐφεσίους (אABK); with ἄρχεται prefixed (DEFG). The fuller title (τοῦ ἁγίου ἀποστόλου L) Παύλου ἐπιστολὴ πρὸς Ἐφεσίους occurs in LP.

Verse 2

2. χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη. St Paul’s regular greeting, found also in 1 and 2 Peter. It is strengthened by the addition of ἔλεος in 1 and 2 Tim., 2 John. In Jude we find ἔλεος καὶ εἰρήνη καὶ ἀγάπη. Only in James do we find the usual classical χαίρειν. The source (see Hort on 1 Peter 1:2) is probably to be found in the High Priestly Blessing, Numbers 6:25 f., where חֵן (grace or mercy) is combined with peace. Both words in a remarkable way run through the whole Epistle. For χάρις cf. Ephesians 1:6-7, Ephesians 2:5; Ephesians 2:7-8, Ephesians 3:2; Ephesians 3:7-8, Ephesians 4:7, (? 29), Ephesians 6:24. See on Ephesians 1:6. For εἰρήνη cf. Ephesians 2:14-15; Ephesians 2:17, Ephesians 4:3, Ephesians 6:15; Ephesians 6:23.

ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. This is St Paul’s usual way of describing the source of the grace and peace for which he prays, God now revealed as our Father and Jesus acknowledged as Christ and Lord. The combination of Jesus with God in one phrase under one preposition is a striking indication of faith in His Divinity. (See Lightfoot on Galatians 1:2.) The Epistle is richer than any other Epistle of St Paul’s in reff. to the Fatherhood of God. See on Ephesians 2:18. The use of κύριος is also remarkably frequent, 23 times. On the whole title see Hort on 1 Peter 1:3.

Verse 3

3. Εὐλογητὸς ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χρ. See Hort on 1 Pet. (pp. 27–33) for a full discussion of the whole phrase, εὐλογητός, sc. ἐστιν ‘Worthy of blessing is’; or ‘Blessed be,’ which gives the meaning in English more exactly. In the Greek Bible (LXX., Apoc. and N.T.) εὐλογητός is normally applied to God, as having an intrinsic right to the worship of His creatures, εὐλογημένος being used of men as the recipients of the bounty of God. Both words in LXX. represent בָּרוּךְ. In classical Greek εὐλογέω means ‘to praise.’ εὐλογητός: cf. doxologies in Psalms 41:13; Psalms 72:18; Psalms 89:52; Psalms 106:48, and the Song of Zacharias, Luke 1:68. ‘The “blessing” of God by men is no mere jubilant worship, but an intelligent recognition of His abiding goodness as made known in His past or present acts. The use of the same word, whether in Hebrew or in Greek, for what is called the “blessing” of God by man and for what is called the “blessing” of man by God is probably founded on a sense of the essentially responsive nature of such “blessing” as man can send on high.’ (Hort loc. cit. p. 28 b.) So here, εὐλογητὸςὁ εὐλογήσας; cf. 1 Chronicles 29:10. ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ, ‘He, who is at once God and Father’ of our Lord. For the constr. ὁ θεὸς τοῦ κυρίου see Ephesians 1:17; for the combination cf. John 20:17; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 11:31; 1 Peter 1:3; Colossians 1:3; Romans 15:6.

‘To Jews and Greeks alike the idea expressed by the name God would be more comprehensive than the idea expressed by the name Father: summing up all such subordinate ideas as those of Maker and Ruler, it would suggest God’s relation to the universe and all its constituent parts, not to that part alone which is capable of sonship. Now the revelation of Fatherhood which was given in the Son of God was assuredly not meant to supersede the more universal name. He whom men had securely learned to know as their Father did not cease to be their God, or to be the God of the world of which they formed a part and in which they moved; and this relation was a primary and fundamental one, independent of the intrusion of evil. It is therefore difficult to see how either relation could have been absent from a Perfect Manhood.’ (Hort loc. cit. p. 29 b.)

τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. See on Ephesians 1:2.

εὐλογήσας. The relation of God to the whole creation from the first (Genesis 1:28) is marked by blessing. But the main thought of the whole section is so deeply coloured by the analogy between the present position of the ‘Israel of God’ and that of the ancient Israel that there can be no doubt that the chief source of St Paul’s language is to be found in ‘the Blessing of Abraham’ (Genesis 12:2 f., Genesis 22:17) which the Gentiles were to inherit; cf. Galatians 3:8; Galatians 3:14. The aorist, as in Ephesians 2:5 f., refers probably to the time of admission to the Covenant.

ἐν, ‘with.’ This instrumental use is not a Semitism. See Moulton, Prol. pp. 61, 103, on the evidence of the papyri.

πάσῃ εὐλογίᾳ πνευματικῇ, ‘every kind of spiritual blessing.’ St Paul has just prayed that they might receive the characteristic blessings of the New Covenant, ‘grace’ and ‘peace.’ His outburst of gratitude marks that not ‘grace’ and ‘peace’ only, but every other spiritual blessing, is already theirs. He selects wisdom and prudence for special mention in Ephesians 1:8.

πνευματικῇ, included in and springing from the gift of the Spirit which they had received (Ephesians 1:13). Contrast the temporal and material blessings characteristic of the old dispensation.

ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις. Phrase peculiar to this Epistle. It occurs Ephesians 1:20, Ephesians 2:6, Ephesians 3:10, Ephesians 6:12. It denotes the home of the Risen and Ascended Lord (Ephesians 1:20) which is now the true sphere of action for the Christian (Ephesians 2:6), whose life in consequence is in continuous relation to spiritual forces both of good (Ephesians 3:10) and evil (Ephesians 6:12). See Intr. pp. xlviii.–lii.; cf. John 14:2; cf. John 12:26.

ἐν Χριστῷ. This pregnant phrase conditions both the giving and the receiving of the blessing. On the one side as God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19), and as Christ Jesus became to us wisdom from God, both righteousness and sanctification and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30), so this blessing comes to us from God ‘in Christ.’ It is all included in the gift of Christ. On the other hand it is only as we are ourselves personally united with Christ, alive in Him, that we can enjoy any part of the blessing. See Intr. pp. lxii–lxxvi.

Verses 3-14


The Epistle opens with an act of adoration in view of the eternal purpose of God now made known to men. The stages in the revelation of that purpose and the office assigned to St Paul in regard to it will be described in chap. 3. Here he is dealing directly with the contents of the revelation, and unfolds it in its relation to the Christian life in one long continuous sentence: the thoughts grow naturally one out of another, and the key words, especially the prepositions, recur, as in obedience to some subtle law of association, in an almost rhythmic flow; bat the sentence is not constructed with the precise subordination of a rhetorical period. We must wait to consider its main purpose till we have examined the elements of which it is composed. Cf. 2 Corinthians 1:3-11, a striking link between the calmest and the most agitated of St Paul’s letters. The opening section in 1 Pet. seems to have been suggested by Eph.

Verse 4

4. καθὼς ἐξελέξατο ἡμᾶς ἐν αὐτῷ. This blessing corresponds both in its character and in the manner of bestowing it to an antecedent ‘choosing of us in Him’ which was involved from the beginning in the creative purpose of God, and so preceded the first step towards its realization.

On Election see Hort on 1 Peter 1:1. God’s method of working out His widest purposes by chosen instruments had been illustrated by the whole course of His dealings with Israel. The nation as a whole had been taught to regard itself as chosen out from all other nations to be the instrument of God’s blessing to them. Within the nation again God had raised up from time to time chosen men, notably David, to be His instruments in guiding and governing their brethren. The thought of God’s choice is constantly associated with the prophetic vision of the Servant of the Lord, Isaiah 41:8, &c. And St Paul himself must have been led from the very beginning of his Christian life to meditate on the mysteries involved in this revealed method of the Divine working. See Acts 9:15. He would therefore know from within the strength that comes into a life which God has knit to Himself and admitted to a definite share in the working out of His Eternal purpose. Thackeray (St Paul and Jewish Thought, pp. 250 f.) calls attention to the prominence of the thought of Election in the Book of Similitudes, Enoch, chaps. 37–71.

πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου (cf. Enoch xlviii. 6 f., and Hort on 1 Peter 1:20). The choice is no after-thought. Speaking of the Divine acts, as we are bound to speak, in the language of time, the plan of Creation preceded its execution.

εἶναι ἡμᾶς ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους. The object of our election is that we should be positively and negatively worthy of our consecration; cf. Ephesians 5:27, ἁγίους; cf. on Ephesians 1:1.

ἀμώμους (cf. Lightfoot on Colossians 1:22; Hort on 1 Peter 1:19) ‘without blemish.’ The strict meaning of the word in classical Greek would be ‘without blame.’ In the Greek Bible, however, the word acquired a special connotation by being used of sacrificial victims.

κατενώπιον αὐτοῦ (cf. Judges 1:24, also in conjunction with ἄμωμος), tried by the searching light of His presence.

ἐν ἀγάπῃ,, Ephesians 3:17, Ephesians 4:2; Ephesians 4:15-16, Ephesians 5:2. ‘In the power of love.’ Love appears in this Epistle as the condition of the indwelling of Christ (Ephesians 3:17), an unfailing spring of mutual forbearance (Ephesians 4:2), of life in accordance with the Truth (Ephesians 4:15), and of the development of the Body (Ephesians 4:16). Here it is (see G. H. Whitaker in loc.) ‘the atmosphere of holiness,’ not so much the test of obedience to the law of life, failure in which would constitute a blemish, as the source and shield of sanctification. Cf. Seeley in Ecce Homo, c. 1 (fin.), ‘No heart is pure that is not passionate.’

Verse 5

5. προορίσας. Cf. Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Acts 4:28; ‘designating’ or ‘appointing’ beforehand, a further definition of Election. The word is not found in LXX., but see Enoch xxxix. 9.

εἰς υἱοθεσίαν διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χρ. εἰς αὐτόν, ‘to attain the relation of sonship towards Himself through Jesus Christ.’

υἱοθεσία in the Greek Bible peculiar to P. ‘Adoption,’ as inscriptions show, was frequent in all parts of the Roman Empire. (See Deissmann, B.S. p. 239.) And St Paul seems to have laid hold of the figure to suggest the truth that the special Christian relation of sonship to God (cf. Ephesians 5:1) is as the relation of Israel to Jehovah had been (Romans 9:4, cf. Exodus 4:22 f.) not a ‘physical’ thing, but due to the Will of the Father. It is never used of the Only-Begotten Son. At the same time the image, as derived from the region of legal fictions, is necessarily an imperfect one, and must not be pressed into all its logical implications. St Paul himself, it should be noticed, speaks of heirs, whose only disqualification is their age, as receiving ‘the adoption’ (Galatians 4:5), and even Christians who are already ‘children of God’ (Romans 8:16) as still awaiting ‘adoption’ (Romans 8:23). We must be careful therefore not to interpret the phrase in such a way as to make it contradict Luke 3:38.

διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Cf. Hort on 1 Peter 2:5. In St Peter however it is ‘through Jesus Christ’ that we offer acceptable sacrifices to God. Here it is ‘through Jesus Christ’ that God conveys to us the gift of sonship. Our election ‘in Christ’ preceded creation. Our ‘adoption’ could not take effect before the appearance of Jesus Christ in flesh; cf. Galatians 4:4. In 1 Corinthians 8:6 the whole creation, and in a special sense the members of the Christian Church, derive their being through the one Lord Jesus Christ.

εἰς αὐτόν, to be connected closely with υἱοθεσίαν. The relation of Sonship ‘to Himself.’ God is our goal and source (1 Corinthians 8:6), as well as the goal and source of Creation (Romans 11:36). εἰς = ‘unto’ rather than ‘into’ (cf. Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 1:20).

κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ. Cf. Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 1:11. ‘According to the gracious purpose of His desire.’ The originating and controlling force at the back of God’s election is to be found in God Himself, not indeed in any arbitrary decree, but in His love. Cf. Deuteronomy 7:8; esp. Isaiah 42:1 = Matthew 12:18, ὃν εὐδόκησεν ἡ ψυχή μου; and Enoch xxxvii. 4, xxxix. 4, xlix. 4. On εὐδοκία see Ephesians 1:9.

Verse 6

6. εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ. Cf. Ephesians 1:12; Ephesians 1:14; Philippians 1:11; 1 Peter 1:7. See Lightfoot and Hort ll. cc. ‘The glory is the triumphant manifestation of the Divine power and grace. The praise is the recognition of these attributes by men.’ The glory of the Father in and through the Son is the final end alike of the Incarnation, culminating in the Ascension of the Son (John 8:50; John 17:1; Philippians 2:11), and of ‘the extension of the Incarnation’ in the Church (John 14:13; John 15:8; Ephesians 3:21). But ‘the glory of the grace’ may consist in its power to reveal the presence of God in the hearts of those on whom it is bestowed, whether Jew or Gentile. See Additional Note on ὁ πατὴρ τῆς δόξης. Cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:12, ὅπως ἐνδοξασθῇ τὸ ὄνομακαὶ ὑμεῖς ἐν αὐτῷ κατὰ τὴν χάριν.

τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ. See Additional Note. ‘Grace’ is the word which for St Paul most completely sums up the attitude of God to man revealed in Christ Jesus—the free unearned favour that He bears towards them. In Rom. St Paul lays stress on the fact that it precedes all human deserving. In this Epistle, as in 1 Pet. (where see Hort’s notes, esp. on Ephesians 1:2; Ephesians 1:10; Ephesians 1:13), stress is laid on its inclusiveness. Gentiles, with no claim of race or covenant, are brought within the range of it. ‘Election’ itself is only the method of its manifestation, Romans 11:5.

ἧς ἐχαρίτωσεν ἡμᾶς ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ, ‘whereby He filled us with grace as included “in” His Beloved.’ ἧς by attraction for or ἐν ᾗ found in DGvg. ἐχαρίτωσεν. See Robinson, pp. 226 ff. and Westcott in loc. The word occurs three times elsewhere in the Greek Bible, Sirach 18:17; Ps. 17:26 Sym.; Luke 1:28 In both O.T. passages it is used of persons who have been endued with grace and act graciously. In Luke it is used as here of one who has ‘found grace’ with God and whom God has filled with grace. ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ. LXX. for Jeshurun, Deuteronomy 33:5 On ‘The Beloved as a Messianic Title’ see Robinson, pp. 229 ff. Cf. ἀγαπητός, Matthew 3:17; Matthew 12:18; Matthew 17:5, and parallels. Special stress is laid in St John on the love of the Father for the Son, John 3:35; John 10:17; John 15:9; John 17:23 f., John 17:26. In Matthew 17:23; Matthew 17:26 His disciples are drawn up, as here, into the circle of this love. The word is chosen rather than Χριστῷ to bring out the idea of χάρις. God can be ‘gracious’ to us without let or limit because we are members of the Son on whom He lavishes the whole wealth of His love. Cf. Colossians 1:13, μετέστησεν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ υἱοῦ τῆς ἀγάπης αὐτοῦ.

Verse 7

7. ἐν ᾧ ἔχομεν κ.τ.λ. Cf. Colossians 1:14 ‘In whom we “have and hold” our deliverance by means of His blood, that is, the forgiveness of our transgressions.’ Here first in the Epistle we find ourselves confronted, though but for a moment, with the fact of sin. ἐν ᾧ. Once more ‘as incorporate in whom.’ Cf. Romans 3:24 and Du Bose, Gospel according to St Paul, pp. 84 ff. ἔχομεν, cf. Ephesians 2:18, Ephesians 3:12 The word implies, as in Romans 5:1, εἰρήνην ἔχωμεν, more than bare possession. See J. H. Moulton, Proleg., p. 110. Cf. Matthew 12:12.

τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν. See esp. Hort on 1 Peter 1:19, Westcott on Hebrews 9:15. Used here, as in Romans 3:24, Colossians 1:14, of a present deliverance. In Ephesians 1:14, Ephesians 4:30 the deliverance is future. The word properly means deliverance from bondage on payment of a ransom. Sometimes, however, as in Hebrews 11:35, and often in the Psalms in the case of the simple verb λυτροῦσθαι, the fact of deliverance irrespective of the method by which it is effected seems alone prominent. In 1 Peter 1:18 f. the language shows that the writer was conscious, perhaps remembering Mark 10:45 (λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν), of the metaphor implied in the word, and it is possible that St Paul’s διὰ τοῦ αἵματος here may be due to the same cause, but apart from the phrase τῆς ἐν Χρ. . in Romans 3:24, which is further defined by reference to a power of propitiation residing ἐν τῷ αἵματι, he nowhere else gives any hint of the method of deliverance. He is chiefly interested, as here and in Colossians 1:14, Romans 3:24 and Titus 2:14 (cf. Psalms 130:8), in emphasizing the fact that it is a deliverance from the guilt and power of sin.

A question has been raised why St Paul, here as in the Colossians, seems to go out of his way to introduce the thought of redemption and supply a definition of it? It has been pointed out that redemption is the one thought which all the forms of Gnosticism adopted from Christianity, and it has been suggested that St Paul’s words are directed against some form of incipient Gnosticism. Neither here nor in his use of what became later the still more definitely technical term πλήρωμα is this inference necessary. The thoughts of redemption and forgiveness were, as Romans 3:24 shows, so closely connected in the mind of St Paul with the thought of the grace of God to sinful man that no further justification of the reference is required by the context, and, if there is any polemic force in the definition, it may be more fruitfully sought for in relation to current Jewish conceptions of the nature of the deliverance which God had in store for His Israel, cf. Luke 2:38.

διὰ τοῦ αἵματος. See Additional Note. διὰ τοῦ αἵματος αὐτοῦ, sc. τοῦ ἠγαπημένου; cf. Acts 20:28, τὴν ἐκκλ. τ. θ. ἣν περιεποιήσατο διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ ἰδίου, esp. if υἱοῦ has dropped out after ἰδίου. This parallel suggests that the Blood may be here regarded as the cost of our deliverance as it is expressly in 1 Peter 1:19 and Revelation 1:5; Revelation 5:9 But as the article is not repeated (cf. Romans 3:24 and see Winer-Moulton, 171 f., but ct. Blass, p. 159) before διὰ τ. αἱ. the phrase may be taken with ἔχομεν rather than with ἀπολύτρωσιν, i.e. ‘the Blood’ is regarded as directly affecting our power to lay hold on the deliverance, cf. 1 John 1:7. The phrase that follows shows that St Paul is thinking here of our emancipation from sin rather than of the right over us which God acquired by the price He paid. Both thoughts are combined in Psalms 74[73]:2, ‘purchased and redeemed,’ Acts 20:28 Cf. Ephesians 1:14 and Acts 20:28.

τὴν ἄφεσιν τῶν παραπτωμάτων, ‘the forgiveness of our trespasses.’ ἄφεσις here only and in Colossians 1:14 in St Paul’s Epistles. In St Paul’s speeches it occurs Acts 13:38; Acts 26:18 τῶν παραπτωμάτων, cf. Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:5 Apart from Matthew 6:14 f., Mark 11:25 f., παραπτ. is found only in St Paul in N.T. In LXX. it is found eight times in Ezekiel, but it is otherwise rare. It presents ‘sin’ as a ‘falling away,’ the interruption of fellowship by the violation of a covenant.

κατὰ τὸ πλοῦτος τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ. St Paul is full in this Epistle of the abundance of God’s resources [1] of grace, here and in Ephesians 2:7; [2] of mercy, Ephesians 2:4; [3] of glory, Ephesians 1:18, Ephesians 3:16; cf. Romans 9:23; Philippians 4:19; Colossians 1:27. These treasures are all stored up in Christ (cf. Ephesians 3:8 and Colossians 2:2). In Romans 2:4 he speaks of the riches of God’s kindness and patience and long-suffering, and in Romans 11:33 of the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. Contrast ‘the weak and beggarly (πτωχὰ) elements’ of Galatians 4:9. ‘Grace’ is constantly associated in St Paul’s mind with the thought of triumphant profusion, ὑπερβάλλουσα, 2 Corinthians 9:14; cf. Ephesians 2:7; ἐπερίσσευσεν, Ephesians 1:8; ὑπερεπερίσσευσεν, Romans 5:20; ὑπερεπλεόνασεν, 1 Timothy 1:14. The phrase here further qualifies ἔχομεν τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν, grace being chiefly seen as grace in the forgiveness of sins. But the fuller thought of grace expressed in Ephesians 1:6 reasserts itself in the next clause, when it is clear that he is thinking of the whole effect of the revelation of God’s attitude to men and of His purpose for them, and not only of forgiveness.

Verse 8

8. ἧς ἐπερίσσευσεν, attr. for ἣν ἐπ. περισσεύω is transitive as in 2 Corinthians 4:15; 2 Corinthians 9:8; 1 Thessalonians 3:12 This construction is peculiar to St Paul in the Greek Bible.

ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ καὶ φρονήσει, ‘in all wisdom and prudence.’ In Colossians 1:9 the corresponding phrase is ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ καὶ συνέσει πνευματικῇ, where see Lightfoot σοφία on the one side describes an attribute of God’s working as approving itself absolutely in its aim and method to man’s judgement. So Romans 11:33; Ephesians 3:10; cf. Luke 7:35 On the other side, as here and in Colossians 1:9, &c., it appears as a power imparted to man whereby he attains an insight into God’s purpose and plan. St Paul deals with it most fully in 1 Cor. and Col. Elsewhere it is most prominent in St James. It recurs in a prominent place in St Paul’s prayer for his correspondents in Ephesians 1:17 It is a word of considerable importance in the history of the relation between Greek and Jewish thought. See Hort, Judaistic Christianity, p. 129. To the Jew the thoughts connected with it were primarily religious and practical, to the Greek they were metaphysical and speculative. The two currents met in cent. 1 A.D. when the main interest in Greek Philosophy was ethical. φρόνησις, ‘prudence’ (spiritual commonsense shown in adapting means to the revealed end, cf. Luke 16:8), is concerned with the application of the principles apprehended by σοφία to particular problems in daily life. φρόνησις occurs most frequently in the Greek Bible in the ‘Wisdom’ literature, esp. Proverbs, Ecclus, Wisdom, and in the account of Solomon’s wisdom in 3 Kings. σοφία and φρόνησις are combined in 3 Kings Ephesians 4:25; Proverbs 1:2; Proverbs 8:1; Proverbs 10:23.

Verse 9

9. γνωρίσας ἡμῖν κ.τ.λ., ‘by making known to us the secret of His will.’ The communication of this knowledge of the ultimate purpose of God, as a consequence of the favour that God has towards us, is the root from which the faculties of ‘wisdom’ and ‘prudence’ are developed in us. In Colossians 1:9, conversely, our power to discern God’s will in its application to our own lives grows with our growth in wisdom and all spiritual understanding. γνωρίζω is constantly connected with the declaration of hidden truths. See Ephesians 3:3, Ephesians 6:19; Romans 16:26, &c.

τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ. God’s purpose for the world was the secret that He shared with His chosen. It is stated here in its widest scope. It is nothing less than the establishment or re-establishment of the whole creation in perfect harmony in the Christ. Cf. Romans 11:36. So in Romans 16:25. The first step towards that goal was taken when God’s covenant was seen to include the Gentiles, Ephesians 3:2; Ephesians 3:4. The knowledge of this stage in the development of God’s plan and its relation to the end was the special revelation entrusted to St Paul. In its relation to the Gentiles it has a double aspect. On the one hand the Gentiles are revealed to the Jews in their true light as members of the one body in Christ, Ephesians 3:4; Ephesians 3:6; cf. Luke 2:32. On the other their own eyes are opened to see ‘Christ in them, the hope of glory,’ Colossians 1:27. In relation to the Jews the first effect of this extension of the circle of God’s chosen seemed disastrous. A part, and a large part, of Israel was shut out. But the revelation granted to St Paul contained a solution of this difficulty also, Romans 11:25. Their exclusion was only temporary with a view to the ultimate all-inclusive triumph of the mercy and the wisdom of God. The key to the whole revelation lay in the true apprehension of the person of Christ. So St Paul speaks of Him as τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ θεοῦ, the treasury in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge were kept for those who were in the secret (Colossians 2:2), and the Gospel itself, which is essentially the revelation of Jesus Christ, is the means by which that secret is made known, Ephesians 3:6, Ephesians 6:19; Colossians 4:3. The use of the word in 1 Timothy 3:9, τὸ μυστήριον τῆς πίστεως, is identical with its use in the phrase τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ εὐαγγελίου, Ephesians 6:19. If there is anything novel in its use in 1 Timothy 3:16, when it stands (as in Colossians 2:3) in apposition to words descriptive of the personal Christ, the novelty does not lie in the use of the word μυστήριον but of εὐσέβεια which is no doubt characteristic of the Pastoral Epistles. It was a mark of special friendship to communicate the knowledge of a secret purpose, cf. John 15:15. This confidence therefore comes in naturally as a token of χάρις, Psalms 25:14.

κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν αὐτοῦ. The parallel phrase in Ephesians 1:5 (κατὰ τὴν εὐδοκίαν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ) suggests that these words are to be taken closely with τοῦ θελήματος. God’s will had been moulded by His gracious purpose. It is, however, possible that the clause goes back to ἐπερίσσευσεν, as in Ephesians 1:5 it goes back to ἐξελέξατο. This abounding of grace in wisdom was ‘in accordance with His gracious purpose.’

εὐδοκία. This word is used to describe Jehovah’s attitude to His people, e.g. Psalms 5:12; Psalms 50:20; Psalms 105:4; cf. Luke 2:14, εἰρήνη ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας; but it also describes a course of action that has approved itself to God, cf. ηὐδόκησεν in Luke 12:32; Colossians 1:19, &c.; e.g. Luke 10:21 = Matthew 11:26, and this meaning is required here by the context.

ἣν προέθετο ἐν αὐτῷ, ‘which He set before Himself in Him.’ These words might mean ‘which He set forth (or displayed) in Him,’ cf. Romans 3:25. But this meaning is excluded here by the use of πρόθεσις in Ephesians 1:11 (cf. Ephesians 3:11) which can only mean ‘purpose,’ as in Romans 8:28; Romans 9:11; 2 Timothy 1:9; cf. Acts 27:13; 2 Maccabees 3:8. The thought therefore must be of the original purpose of creation which God formed ‘in Him.’ The thought and the language recur in Ephesians 3:11 and are strictly parallel to ἐν αὐτῷ ἐκτίσθη τὰ πάντα in Colossians 1:16, cf. John 1:4, ὃ γέγονεν ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν. This fits in also with the hint in Ephesians 3:9 that the secret had been hid ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων ἐν τῷ θεῷ τῷ τὰ πάντα κτίσαντι.

Verse 10

10. εἰς οἰκονομίαν τοῦ πληρώματος τῶν καιρῶν, ‘with a view to a dispensation or stewardship appropriate to the fulness of the seasons.’ οἰκονομία, see Additional Note. The treasures to be dispensed are the treasures of wisdom and knowledge contained in the ‘secret’ which God has at last made known to His chosen. This treasure is committed to them to be imparted to others as they are able to bear it. The possession of it therefore constitutes a stewardship for the faithful, for a prudent exercise of which the Church as a whole and each member of it in his degree is responsible to God. If this view of οἰκονομία is rejected, the phrase will mean ‘with a view to bringing about in due course the fulness of the seasons.’ In St Paul’s view, however, the fulness of the seasons has already come. τοῦ πληρώματος τῶν καίρων, cf. Mark 1:15; Galatians 4:4; 1 Timothy 2:6. This stewardship could not begin till the conditions were prepared for giving and receiving the revelation. These words are an assurance that there is a true Philosophy of History.

ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι τὰ πάντα ἐν τῷ χριστῷ, ‘to sum up the universe in the Christ.’ These words define the ultimate end of the Gracious Purpose, the ‘one far off Divine event to which the whole Creation moves.’ ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι, properly a word in Rhetoric, Lat. collectio, describing the rapid repetition and summarizing of an orator’s points previous to his practical conclusion. St Paul uses it (Romans 13:9) of the relation between the command ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’ and all the commandments of the Second Table. Strictly, therefore, the words mean “to bring together each separate element in Creation in such a way that ‘the Christ’ may be the fitting description of the whole.” This meaning helps to explain the presence of the article τῷ χριστῷ, ct. Ephesians 1:3, ἐν Χριστῷ. Otherwise it would be difficult not to believe that, however incorrectly in point of etymology, St Paul, in speaking ‘of bringing the universe together under one head,’ was thinking of Christ not as κεφάλαιον, but as κεφαλή, cf. Ephesians 1:22. A further development of the thought I owe to a note communicated by my friend Canon G. H. Whitaker: ‘Plutarch says ἡ πόλις οἴκων τι σύστημα καὶ κεφάλαιον οὖσα (Cat. maj. 454 A). Now a well-planned city explains the point of the several houses. It is an ordered whole. You see why the houses were placed as they were, when you see the city from a balloon. So, in a well-written article, you come not to a new summary but to a κεφάλαιον, a heading up of all the points, showing how they tell. Paragraphs that had seemed disconnected are felt now to have been all bearing one way. “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” brings all the separate commandments to the unity of a great principle. Moses, Joshua, Aaron come to a point in Christ.’

τῷ χριστῷ. See Additional Note. The thought is that which we find in Colossians 1:16. The universe ἐν αὐτῷ ἐκτίσθη and εἰς αὐτὸν ἔκτισται. But between these points there is a period of discord and rebellion. In Colossians 1:20 we hear of the resolution of the discord, here of the ultimate harmony.

τὰ ἐπὶ τοῖς οὐρανοῖς κ.τ.λ. Cf. Colossians 1:16; Colossians 1:20. The phrase is obviously meant to be all-inclusive. Revelation 5:13 is fuller and more detailed but not wider in scope. τὰ πάντα of the whole created universe, as in Ephesians 3:9, Ephesians 4:10; Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 1 Corinthians 15:27; Philippians 3:21; Colossians 1:16-17; Colossians 1:20; 1 Timothy 6:13; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 2:8; Revelation 4:11; cf. Psalms 8:7.

Verse 11

11. ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἐκληρώθημεν, ‘in whom also we were made God’s portion.’ κλῆρος has lost all sense of the method of distribution and become virtually a synonym for κληρονομία (= settled possession), both words being used freely and indiscriminately for the same Hebr. נַחֲלָה and both being used to describe God’s special property in Israel, e.g. Deuteronomy 9:29, λαός σου καὶ κλῆρός σου = 3 Kings 8:51, λαός σου καὶ κληρονομία σου. So in Acts 20:32 τὴν κληρονομίαν ἐν τοῖς ἡγιασμένοις πᾶσιν is indistinguishable from Acts 26:18, κλῆρον ἐν τοῖς ἡγιασμένοις, and the difference between τοῦ κλήρου τῶν ἁγίων, Colossians 1:12, and τῆς κληρονομίας αὐτοῦ ἐν τοῖς ἁγίοις, Ephesians 1:18, lies in the fact that in the first case the Saints and in the second case God is the possessor, not in any felt difference in the method of acquisition, the relation of God to His people being constantly illustrated by the relation of the people to their land.

The underlying idea of a special right of ownership as belonging to Jehovah over Israel is closely connected with the thought of the Covenant between them (Exodus 19:5) and with their redemption. The thoughts are brought together in Psalms 74:2, “Remember thy congregation which thou hast purchased of old, which thou hast redeemed to be the tribe of thine inheritance.” There is a close connexion also with the thought of election, see Psalms 33:12, λαὸς ὃν ἐξελέξατο εἰς κληρονομίαν ἑαυτῷ. The word therefore brings together many of the thoughts that have already found expression in Ephesians 1:3-10 with a change of emphasis. Hitherto stress has been laid on the blessings imparted to us by the revelation of the grace of God in Christ. Our attention is turned now to our new relation to God and to the promise of protection implied in it. The same thought recurs in the two hymns with which Deuteronomy closes (Deuteronomy 32:9, Deuteronomy 33:3 f.), and finds its climax in the assurance which no fears for the future have strength to disturb (Deuteronomy 33:27):

‘The Eternal God is thy dwelling-place,

And underneath are the everlasting arms.’

προορισθέντες, resuming προορίσας, Ephesians 1:5.

κατὰ πρόθεσιν. Cf. ἣν προέθετο, Ephesians 1:9.

τοῦ τὰ πάντα ἐνεργοῦντος. Cf. Isaiah 41:4, τίς ἐνήργησεν καὶ ἐποίησεν ταῦτα; ‘of Him who filleth the universe with energy.’ This, if it is philologically admissible, is more in accordance with the context than the alternative rendering ‘who worketh all things,’ meaning ‘who is the efficient cause of any result that is produced.’ It is, of course, possible to take τὰ πάντα of the whole sum of events produced by the operation of the Divine energy, and to make it stand for the whole course of history as controlled by God’s Will. But τὰ πάντα has just been used (Ephesians 1:10) of the Universe, and that is its natural meaning in the parallel phrases in Colossians 1:16-17; Colossians 1:20, and esp. in Ephesians 3:9 τῷ τὰ πάντα κτίσαντι and 1 Timothy 6:13 τοῦ ζωογονοῦντος τὰ πάντα. See Additional Note.

κατὰ τὴν βουλὴν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ. In accordance with the intention (or counsel) of His will. βουλὴ, of the Divine plan, esp. as it is being worked out in human history, Acts 2:23; Acts 4:28; Acts 13:36; Acts 20:27; Hebrews 6:17. In LXX. generally for עֵצָה. See Psalms 33[32]:11; Isaiah 14:26; Isaiah 46:10; Judith 2:2, τὸ μυστήριον τῆς βουλῆς αὐτοῦ.

Verses 11-14

11–14. The outline of the whole plan is now before us. The details so far as they affect Christians are filled in (Ephesians 1:11-14), first as regards Jewish Christians (Ephesians 1:11-12), then as regards Gentiles (Ephesians 1:13-14). The act of adoration began from the thought of spiritual blessing as the token of our new relationship to God in Christ. It closes with the thought of the gift of the Spirit Himself as a seal of final deliverance.

Verse 12

12. εἰς τὸ εἶναι κ.τ.λ. ‘So that the contemplation of us who of old time as members of the Christ have been full of hope might lead men to give praise for His glory.’ At this point for the first time in the Epistle the distinction of Jewish and Gentile Christians comes to the front; cf. Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 2:3; Ephesians 2:11.

ἐν τῷ χριστῷ, ‘as being throughout the course of our national history members of the Christ.’ ἐν as in ἐν Χριστῷ, Ephesians 1:3, and the kindred phrases throughout the passage. Ct. the Gentile state before the Gospel came to them (Ephesians 2:12). The object or ground of hope is expressed by εἰς, 2 Corinthians 1:10; 1 Peter 3:5; or by ἐπὶ with acc. 1 Timothy 5:5; 1 Peter 1:13, or with dat. 1 Timothy 4:10; 1 Timothy 6:17. ἐν in 1 Corinthians 15:19; Philippians 2:19, is best taken as here. The ‘Golden Age’ of the Israelites lay continually ahead of them. They are marked out in consequence among the nations of the world by their hopefulness. This hope was justified and handed on to the Christian Church, quickened and intensified by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; cf. 1 Peter 1:3; Ephesians 1:18.

τῷ χριστῷ. The presence of the article (ct. ἐν Χρ., Ephesians 1:3) suggests that St Paul is thinking of the Christ and His members as constituting a living whole as in 1 Corinthians 12:12. See Additional Note.

εἰς ἔπαινον δόξης αὐτοῦ. Cf. Ephesians 1:6.

Verse 13

13. ἐν ᾦ καὶ ὑμεῖς ἀκούσαντεςἐν ᾧ καὶ πιστεύσαντες ἐσφραγίσθητε. St Paul marks three distinct stages by which the Gentiles passed into their assured position in Christ, hearing, believing, and being sealed. But these stages, though distinct, are organically connected, and the whole process is conceived as taking place ‘in Him.’ This is most easily seen in connexion with the ‘sealing’ which, as in the case of Our Lord at His Baptism (John 6:27), and of the disciples on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 11:17), and of the household of Cornelius (Acts 10:44; Acts 15:8), was at once the Divine attestation of a spiritual fact already revealed and appropriated and the means by which the recipient was empowered to live up to the truth he had heard and believed.

ἀκούσαντες κ.τ.λ. ‘Hearing,’ according to Romans 10:14-17, necessarily precedes ‘believing.’ It means giving heed to a message coming from Christ.

τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας, τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς σωτηρίας ὑμῶν. The message is defined from two points of view. It is [1] a declaration of eternal reality, of the truth, cf. Ephesians 4:24. The truth is the opposite of ἡ πλάνη, Ephesians 4:14, ἡ ἀπάτη, Ephesians 4:22, τὸ ψεῦδος, Ephesians 4:25. The word reveals the true relation in which men stand to one another and to God in Christ. The phrase is found in 2 Timothy 2:15, and in a fuller form ὁ λόγος τῆς ἀληθείας τοῦ εὐαγγελίου in Colossians 1:5; cf. 2 Corinthians 6:7. This view of the Gospel is characteristic of St John. See esp. John 1:17, John 18:37. It has also [2] consequences directly affecting the Gentiles. It is ‘the Gospel of their salvation.’

τῆς σωτηρίας ὑμῶν. Cf. 1 Peter 1:10 with Hort’s notes. The salvation expressly included the heathen in its scope; cf. also Ephesians 2:5.

ἐν ᾧ καὶ πιστεύσαντες. ‘Hearing’ in itself is a sign of grace, but only as the prelude to ‘believing’; cf. Luke 8:12; Luke 8:14-15; Acts 15:7.

ἐσφραγίσθητε τῷ πνεύματι τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τῷ ἁγίῳ. In O.T. the Spirit of God came on men who had a special work for God to do as Judges (Judges 3:10, &c.), Kings (1 Samuel 16:13) or Prophets (Numbers 11:29). And as the thought of the Messianic age grew in the minds of the later prophets a promise was given not only that the Spirit should rest on the Messiah (Isaiah 11:2) and on the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 61:1), but also on the whole people of God (Joel 2:28; Isaiah 44:3; Ezekiel 36:27). In the Gospels the fulfilment of the first part of this promise was the sign by which the Baptist was to recognize ‘the Mightier than he’ who (John 1:33) would be able to baptize others with the same Holy Spirit that had come to rest upon Himself. And our Lord before His Ascension declared that the time for this Baptism was at hand (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; cf. John 14:26). The fulfilment of the promise began on the day of Pentecost, and was accompanied by extraordinary signs, esp. speaking with tongues (Acts 2:33). Similar signs attended the outpouring of the Spirit on a new class of hearers or in a new region, e.g. Acts 8:15 ff; Acts 10:47; Acts 19:2. These manifestations of miraculous power were, as St Paul points out in 1 Cor., only part and not the deepest or most abiding effect of the gift of the Spirit. But they were regarded, taken in conjunction with the deeper evidence of spiritual conversions (1 Thessalonians 1:9), as tokens of the Divine approval of the different stages in the missionary activity of the Apostles. See esp. Acts 11:17; Acts 14:27; Acts 15:12; Galatians 2:8; Galatians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 2 Corinthians 12:12. So the gift of the Spirit to his converts became for St Paul ‘a seal’ of his own apostleship (1 Corinthians 9:2) and an assurance of their election (1 Thessalonians 1:4 f.). It was natural therefore to regard the gift of the Spirit as a seal set by God on the Gentiles to mark them out as belonging to and kept by Him. The figure occurs in Ephesians 4:30 and 2 Corinthians 1:12. See Additional Note on σφραγίς.

τῷ πνεύματι τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τῷ ἁγίῳ. Cf. Romans 9:8, τὰ τέκνα τῆς ἐπαγγελίας. The genitive is virtually a genitive of apposition. All the blessings, the inheritance, &c., promised by God to His people are included in the gift of the Spirit. No translation can give the full effect of the phrase. It includes, but is not satisfied by, ‘The promised Spirit.’ ἐπαγγελία, cf. Ephesians 2:12, Ephesians 3:6, is curiously rare in LXX., there being no distinctive word in Hebrew to express the thought. In Psalms 55[56]:9 and Amos 9:6 it appears as a paraphrase or mistranslation. 2 Maccabees 2:18 καθὼς ἐπηγγείλατο διὰ τοῦ νόμου, seems the only instance of the use of the root to express a Divine promise. The thought is common in Deuteronomic passages and in reference to the promise made to David. In the Gospels it occurs only in a word of the Lord in Luke 24:49, ‘The promise of the Father,’ cf. Acts 1:4, repeated by St Peter at Pentecost, Acts 2:33. In all these cases it refers directly to the Holy Spirit. St Stephen uses it Acts 7:17 of the promised land, and it is common in St Paul, both in his speeches and in his letters, of the hope of Israel. It occurs 14 times in this sense in Hebrews. It is used in 2 Pet. of the παρουσία.

Verse 14

14. ὅ ἐστιν ἀρραβὼν τῆς κληρονομίας ἡμῶν, ‘who is the earnest of our inheritance.’ The Spirit is the earnest (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:22); not that the full inheritance can contain anything that is not virtually contained in the gift of Him, but our capacity to receive is not yet perfected. ἀρραβὼν is strictly ‘a deposit on account paid to clinch a bargain.’

τῆς κληρονομίας ἡμῶν. The Jew and Gentile are both included. In ἐκληρώθημεν the thought was that God’s people were His portion, here His Spirit is ours.

εἰς ἀπολύτρωσιν τῆς περιποιήσεως, ‘with a view to the final deliverance of all that God has made his own.’ Cf. Ephesians 4:30 εἰς ἡμέραν ἀπολυτρώσεως. This redemption lies ahead as in Luke 21:28; cf. Romans 8:23. The sealing with the Spirit looked forward to it as the seal of circumcision did. See Additional Note, p. 130. τῆς περιποιήσεως, cf. 1 Peter 2:9 with the O.T. passages on which that depends, Isaiah 43:21, and Malachi 3:17; cf. also Acts 20:28 = Psalms 74:2. It is possible to retain the active sense of ‘acquisition’ if we regard the redemption as the act by which God finally establishes His hold over His people, making them in the fullest sense His own. The relationship, however, is already established (cf. ἐκληρώθημεν), and it is simpler to take περιποίησις as representing סְגֻלָּה, the peculiar treasure already purchased. Westcott suggests that the whole Creation, as included in the circle of Christ’s redemption, constitutes the peculiar treasure here. There is no doubt that in St Paul’s view the whole universe is to share ultimately in the coming restoration. But the term itself suggests thoughts belonging to the period of ‘the election’ and ‘the first-fruit’ rather than to the final harmony.

εἰς ἔπαινον τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ, Ephesians 1:6; Ephesians 1:12. The glory hitherto spoken of belongs to the present. It shines out in the grace which God is even now bestowing on His chosen (Ephesians 1:6) and the fulfilment of the hopes of His ancient people (Ephesians 1:12), Luke 2:32. The glory here is that to be manifested in the consummated redemption at the Parousia, Romans 8:21.

The whole sentence is now before us. It is not really obscure. Only our imaginations find it difficult to rise into the heavenly regions whither St Paul would raise us that he may show us the vision of the truth as it has been made known to him. His language also, moulded by the experience of God’s people through a thousand years of patient discipline, is strange and unfamiliar. There is, however, no doubt as to his main purpose. He is pouring out his soul in praise to God, as point after point in the blessedness of those who are in Christ stands out clear before him. He is contemplating their position in the light of its relation to God’s universe in the whole course of its development. The starting point lies behind the creation; the goal is its consummation in the fulness of the times. The race of man, nay, all things in heaven and earth are included in the scope of his vision, as he sets forth stage after stage of the whole counsel of God. At the heart of his vision, the hidden but most firmly grasped secret of the whole development is God Himself, working from eternity to eternity, not at random, but according to a fixed and definite plan; not mechanically nor heartlessly like an impersonal Law, but of ‘choice’ and of love; nor again at an infinite distance from the work of His hands, as though His part in His creation was over once for all, and we might think of Him as ‘elsewhere at other work,’ but in present immanent power making all things work from moment to moment in accordance with His plan. And what is the plan? We can judge it only by its goal—‘to sum up all things,’ to bring each element of the universe into its true unity and order in its appointed place in His Christ. In the light of this end we can in some measure understand such of the means by which it is to be attained as have been as yet made known to us. As all are to be, so some have already been, united and restored in their true allegiance to their Head. All the blessings foreshadowed under the old Dispensation have been substantiated in a Society, which has taken the place of the old Israel, and membership in which is now thrown open to all men. Any man may now attain to the freedom and the dignity of a full-grown son of God, and enter in part on his inheritance here and now. Each one as he attains to this position is taught that he has not himself to thank for the blessings by which he is surrounded. Each blessing is rooted deep out of sight in the eternal Will of God. But he is not in consequence absolved from all effort. The knowledge is given to enable him to strive with quickened intelligence and unfaltering devotion to realize the gracious purpose of the Will which has been made known to him ‘that he may appear holy and without blame in God’s sight in love.’ And if he should wish to know the ground of this assurance, that it is indeed God’s Will for him that he should aspire to no lower a position than this, and that power is at hand to enable him to attain to it, the one answer to all his questions is contained in two words, ‘in Christ.’ Christ is at once the beginning and the end of the creation; the original plan was formed in Him, and in Him it must be consummated. He is at once the way by which the Father comes into touch with us to quicken and bless us with His Spirit, and the way by which we on our part draw near to the Father. In Him God fore-ordained, and chose, and blessed, and ‘graced’ us. In Him we find deliverance from our sins. In Him God’s ancient people knew that God had at last come to claim them as His portion, and learnt to recognize in Him the hidden source of their age-long hope. In Him His new people find the inspiration of the faith which had been sealed by the bestowal in Him of the Holy Spirit of promise. What wonder that the issue should be praise? If we ask further who is this Christ that He should be able thus to link God to man and man to God, St Paul does not here turn aside to tell us. Elsewhere, especially in the closely kindred Epistle to the Colossians, the lesson which he had to teach followed directly from a right understanding of the Person of Christ, and that doctrine therefore stands in the forefront. Here the teaching so given is presupposed, and our attention is concentrated on the practical consequences of that doctrine, as it helps to explain the position and the privileges of the Christian Church.

CH. Ephesians 1:15 to Ephesians 2:10

Ephesians 1:15. καὶ τὴν εἰς א*ABP 33 (= 17) boh Orig Cyr½ Hier Aug½. καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην εἰς D*G (cf. Colossians 1:4). καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην τὴν εἰς אcDc al latt (vt vg) syrr (vg hcl) Chrys Theod-mopslat.

Ephesians 1:20. ἐνήργησεν אDG &c. ἐνήργηκεν AB.

Ephesians 2:5. ἐν before τῷ χριστῷ B 33 (= 17) al pauc boh am Chrys Victorin Ambst.

οὖ inserted before χάριτι DG Victorin Ambst al.

Ephesians 2:8. αὐτοῦ χάριτι σεσωσμένοι ἐσμέν D*d syr vg.

Verse 15

15. Διὰ τοῦτο. Because this is our true Christian position.

ἀκούσας. Cf. Colossians 1:4; Colossians 1:9, and (virtually) Romans 1:8. This language would be unnatural if the letter were exclusively addressed to the Ephesians. There is nothing corresponding to it in the letters to the Churches of his own founding. Philemon Ephesians 1:5 ἀκούων (cf. 3 John 1:4) = as I continue to hear. Philemon was an old friend. The news had most probably been brought by Epaphras. See Intr. p. lxxvii.

τὴν καθʼ ὑμᾶς. In the light of fresh evidence from papyri this is best taken as a periphrasis for ὑμῶν.

ἐν τῷ κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ. Cf. on Ephesians 1:1. This faith is theirs as alive to God in Jesus acknowledged as their Lord. In Philemon 1:5 εἰς τὸν κύριον Ἰησοῦν, the Lord Jesus is the object of their faith.

καὶ τὴν εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους. If this is the true reading it must describe the faith as reaching out in its effect to all the saints, e.g. by leading to the recognition of the bond of spiritual brotherhood by which we are linked to one another in Christ. This is however an extremely difficult construction which has no real parallel in N.T. In Philemon 1:5 the presence of ἀγάπην makes all the difference. εἰς is found with ἀγάπη in the closely parallel phrase Colossians 1:4; and also in 2 Corinthians 2:4; 1 Peter 4:8; cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:3. Other passages to which Hort (W.H. Ap. in loc.) refers, Titus 3:15; Galatians 5:6; Ephesians 3:17, are valuable as showing that faith and love are combined naturally in all Christian activity both towards God and towards man (cf. Ephesians 6:23; 1 Thessalonians 5:8; 1 Timothy 1:14; 2 Timothy 1:13), but they only make the absence of a specific reference to love here the less natural. It seems therefore that the true reading must be sought here in the Versions which with one voice insert ‘love.’ The form that this reading takes in the best Greek MSS. that contain it is in DG καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην εἰς πάντας. It is tempting, however, to suggest that the original reading was without the article before ἀγάπην. The whole sentence would then run τὴν καθʼ ὑμᾶς πίστιν ἐν τῷ κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ καὶ ἀγάπην εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους, the thought being that the faith and the love were both characteristic of the ‘Ephesians,’ and enjoyed in the Lord Jesus, and directed towards all the saints. The reading ⲕⲁⲓⲧⲏⲛ would then be a very early corruption of ⲕⲁⲅⲁⲡⲏⲛ owing to a misreading of the contraction for ⲕⲁⲓ. Cf. Hort’s conj. on Romans 4:12.

εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους. Cf. (with Whitaker) Ephesians 3:18, Ephesians 6:18. The faith or the love (or the faith and the love) of these Gentile Christians was a link uniting them with the whole Body consisting of Jew and Gentile.

Verses 15-23


This section corresponds to the section of thanksgiving which in all St Paul’s Epistles except Gal., 1 Tim. and Tit. follows directly after the salutation. Such a section (see Robinson’s Excursus, pp. 275 ff.) is often found in the familiar correspondence of the time as evidenced by the Egyptian papyri. In St Paul the delicate adaptation of the subjects chosen for thanksgiving to the circumstances of the persons whom he is addressing shows that his language is as far removed as possible from the formal and the conventional. In his letters the section helps to prepare the way for the teaching and even for the reproof that is to follow by its generous recognition of all that is best in his correspondents, and by bringing the whole of his communication with them from the first into the realized presence of God.

Verse 16

16. εὐχαριστῶν. As Robinson points out (p. 279 note), fresh illustrations of this use of the word as of μνείαν ποιούμενος are to be found in the papyri.

Verse 17

17. ἵνα. See Moulton, Proleg. p. 206.

ὁ θεὸς τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰ. Χ. Cf. on Ephesians 1:3.

ὁ πατὴρ τῆς δόξης. The Father from whom comes every manifestation of the Divine presence in the world, whether in the history of Israel, in ‘the face of Jesus Christ,’ or in the Church here and hereafter. Cf. ὁ πατὴρ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν, 2 Corinthians 1:3; ὁ πατὴρ τῶν φώτων, James 1:17. See Additional Note.

δώῃ subj., not δῴη opt. See Moulton, Proleg. pp. 193 f. St Paul prays that power may come upon them from God, thus fully revealed through our Lord Jesus Christ, to give them moral and spiritual discernment, and to draw away the veils that hide the truth from the self-indulgent (Ephesians 4:17) and the self-sufficient (Matthew 11:25).

πνεῦμα σοφίας καὶ ἀποκαλύψεως. Cf. Romans 11:8 πνεῦμα κατανύξεως, 2 Timothy 1:7δυνάμεως καὶ ἀγάπης καὶ σωφρονισμοῦ. σοφίας, see on Ephesians 1:9. ἀποκαλύψεως ‘unveiling.’ Cf. Luke 2:32 φῶς εἰς ἀποκάλυψιν ἐθνῶν. ‘The veil that is spread over all nations’ (Isaiah 25:7) needs to be taken away both that they may be seen in their true nature and that they may see the truth themselves; cf. 2 Corinthians 3:15.

ἐν ἐπιγνώσει αὐτοῦ. ἐπίγνωσις differs from γνῶσις (see Robinson’s Excursus) rather in clearness of definition than in fulness or completeness of content. Like ἐπιγινώσκειν it is specially appropriate in cases where the truth is present under a veil and is recognized in spite of the disguise. So here. The power for which St Paul prays developes in men as they learn to recognize the tokens of God’s presence in them and about them.

Verse 18

18. πεφωτισμένους. Agreeing with ὑμῖν by a not uncommon irregularity, cf. Acts 15:22. The condition out of which they have been delivered is regarded as ‘darkness,’ cf. Ephesians 5:8, Ephesians 4:18 : cf. φωτισθέντας, Hebrews 6:4; Hebrews 10:32, and the use of φωτισμὸς of Baptism.

τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς τῆς καρδίας ὑμῶν. For the construction cf. 1 Timothy 6:5. τῆς καρδίας: the organ of spiritual vision (Matthew 5:8; cf. Matthew 6:23), as of faith (Romans 10:10), ‘darkened’ by idolatry (Romans 1:21), and by sensuality (Ephesians 4:18), miserliness, the evil eye (Matthew 6:23), hate (1 John 2:11).

εἰς τὸ εἰδέναι ὑμᾶς κ.τ.λ. The leading words in the threefold vision which will open before their enlightened eyes are all echoes of thoughts that found expression in the opening paragraph. St Paul is praying that the Gentile converts may realize the different elements in the new position into which they have been introduced which have the power to work a moral transformation.

ἡ ἐλπὶς τῆς κλήσεως. Hope was the birthright of Israel (Ephesians 1:12). It was unknown to the heathen (Ephesians 2:12). The common hope is the pledge of the Christian unity in body and spirit (Ephesians 4:4). So in Colossians 1:4 love to all the saints is grounded on hope, and in Colossians 1:27 the Gospel to the Gentiles is summed up in the phrase Χριστὸς ἐν ὑμῖν ἡ ἐλπὶς τῆς δόξης: cf. 1 Peter 1:3.

τῆς κλήσεως αὐτοῦ. This hope is due to the fact that God Himself has called them to take their place among His people. Cf. Ephesians 4:1; Ephesians 4:4; Romans 9:24; 1 Peter 1:15. So in Romans 8:30. God’s call is the first stage in the manifestation on earth of His eternal election and is closely linked with justification and glory.

τίς ὁ πλοῦτος τῆς δόξης τῆς κληρονομίας αὐτοῦ ἐν τοῖς ἁγίοις. Cf. Ephesians 1:11 ἐν ᾧ καὶ ἐκληρώθημεν, and τῆς περιποιήσεως, Ephesians 1:14. The call of God which had come to them gave them a place here and now in God’s inheritance, as that inheritance is constituted by the saints. As possessed by Him the saints behold and radiate His glory. Through them men grow conscious of the presence of God in the world. How inexhaustible then must be the resources at their disposal! With ὁ πλοῦτος cf. Ephesians 3:8; Ephesians 3:16. We may perhaps compare 2 Thessalonians 1:10 ἐνδοξασθῆναι ἐν τοῖς ἁγίοις.

Verse 19

19. καὶ τί τὸ ὑπερβάλλον μέγεθος κ.τ.λ. For the realization of this hope and the manifestation of this glory we need the constant support of a power not our own. This, too, is supplied with an abundance sufficient to overwhelm all opposing forces.

εἰς ἡμᾶς τοὺς πιστεύοντας. This power operates upon and has ‘free play’ in us who believe, our faith opening the channels along which the current can flow (ct. Matthew 13:58), and being at the same time created by the Divine force liberated by the Resurrection.

κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργειαν τοῦ κράτους τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ. ἰσχὺς ‘strength’ as contrasted with ‘weakness,’ κράτος ‘effective power’ overmastering opposition, ἐνέγεια ‘power in action’ as contrasted with power latent. The phrase qualifies both μέγεθος and πιστεύοντας. Our faith is not ‘of ourselves,’ cf. Ephesians 2:8. It is the result ‘of the operation of God,’ cf. Colossians 2:12. The same ‘operation of God’ is the measure of the surpassing greatness of the power. Note the prominence of the thought of spiritual power as a characteristic element in the Christian life throughout the Epistle, Ephesians 3:16; Ephesians 3:20, Ephesians 6:10.

Verse 20

20. ἣν ἐνήργηκεν ἐν τῷ χριστῷ. This need not mean more than that God’s power was seen in operation in the case of the Christ, but (see Additional Note, p. 128) it is at least possible that, as in Galatians 3:5, ἐνεργῶν δυνάμεις ἐν ὑμῖν means ‘sets miraculous power to work in you,’ i.e. makes you centres of spiritual force, so here ἣν sc. ἐνέργειαν ἑνήργηκεν ἐν τῷ χριστῷ means that God has made the Christ the centre of spiritual force for the universe. The tense of ἐνήργηκεν suggests that the effects of the operation are felt in the present.

ἐν τῷ χριστῷ. The article suggests that the Christ is regarded as throughout one with His members, cf. on Ephesians 1:10.

ἐγείρας. See Hort on 1 Peter 1:21, where δόξαν αὐτῷ δόντα connects the thoughts of Resurrection and Ascension as here and in Ephesians 2:6.

καθίσας ἐν δεξιᾷ αὐτοῦ. Cf. Psalms 110:1 κάθου ἐκ δεξιῶν μου. Our Lord’s quotation of this Psalm (Matthew 22:44 and parallels) is taken up by St Peter on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:34. St Paul refers to it also in Romans 8:34; Colossians 3:1. It supplies, with Ephesians 1:4 of the same Psalm, one of the main themes of the Epistle to the Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 10:12; Hebrews 12:2. The only other allusion to it is in 1 Peter 3:22. ἐν δεξιᾷ. In LXX. and in express quotations in N.T. (Matthew 22:44, &c.; Acts 2:25; Hebrews 1:13) the phrase is ἐκ δεξιῶν. With ἐν cp. Revelation 3:21 καθίσαιἐν τῷ θρόνῳ. The right hand of the Lord is a constant figure in the Psalms for the sovereign power of God as seen in the deliverance, support and protection of His people, and in judgement on His and their enemies.

ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις. See on Ephesians 1:3.

Verse 21

21. ὑπεράνω πάσης ἀρχῆς κ.τ.λ. Cf. Ephesians 3:10; Colossians 1:16; 1 Peter 3:22. St Paul is using names that were current in Rabbinic speculation with regard to different orders of Angels. See esp. Enoch lxi. 10; the Slavonic Enoch 20; Test. XII. Patr., Levi 3, quoted by Thackeray St Paul and Jewish Thought, pp. 147 f. See also Prof. Peake on ‘Angelology,’ Intr. to Epistle to Colossians, Expositor’s Greek Test. p. 478. The worship of Angels advocated by some at Colossae gives a polemic term to the references in Colossians. In this Epistle they appear because they formed an integral part of the universe as St Paul conceived it. Here the thought of their subordination is brought in to enhance the glory and the power of the Ascended Christ (cf. Colossians 2:10). In Ephesians 3:10 (cf. 1 Peter 1:12; see Hort’s note) they are regarded as interested students of the revelation of the eternal purpose of God given through the Church. From Ephesians 6:12 (cf. Ephesians 2:2, Colossians 2:15) we learn that our hardest spiritual battles have to be fought against antagonists drawn from among them.

ὀνόματος. Cf. Philippians 2:9 τὸ ὄνομα τὸ ὑπὲρ τᾶν ὅνομα.

οὐ μόνον ἐν τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν τῷ μέλλοντι. The forces of ‘this age’ include, according to St Paul’s view, not only human but also angelic forces. See 1 Corinthians 2:6; 1 Corinthians 2:8 (possibly); 2 Corinthians 4:4; cf. Ephesians 2:2. They are the forces which we have to reckon with so far as we are οἱ υἱοὶ τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου, Luke 16:8; Luke 20:34. As ‘children of light’ who have tasted (Hebrews 6:5) δυνάμεις μέλλοντος αἰῶνος we belong also even now to a new ‘age’ distinct from the visible present, which is to be more fully manifested in the future, but of which we can say already that it contains no power over which the Ascended Christ is not sovereign.

Verse 22

22. καὶ πάντα ὑπέταξεν ὑπὸ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ. The phrase is taken from Psalms 8:7, where it describes man’s place in creation (cf. Genesis 1:27-30). The relation between the exaltation of Jesus and the ultimate realization of this part of the eternal purpose is indicated in Hebrews 2:9. The same passage is quoted in 1 Corinthians 15:27, where, as here, it is closely connected with a quotation from Psalms 110. Our Lord’s words in Matthew 11:27 πάντα μοι παρεδόθη, following on the thought of ‘a revelation to babes’ (cf. Psalms 8:3 ἐκ στόματος νηπίων), Matthew 21:16, perhaps suggested this application of the text. For the thought see Matthew 28:18.

καὶ αὐτὸν ἔδωκεν κεφαλὴν. With this use of ἔδωκεν cf. Ephesians 4:11. κεφαλὴν, ‘Head’ = ‘Chief.’ The figure is common in Hebrew, though not in Greek. See Hort, Proleg. to Eph., pp. 132 f. Cf. Ephesians 4:15; 1 Corinthians 11:3; Colossians 1:18; Colossians 2:10.

τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ,, Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 3:21, Ephesians 5:23 ff. See Hort, Christian Ecclesia, p. 138 ff., for the steps by which this conception of a single Universal Ecclesia was attained.

Verse 23

23. ἥτις ἐστὶν τὸ σῶμα αὐτοῦ,, Ephesians 4:16; Colossians 1:18. This figure is used of the single local Ecclesia, 1 Corinthians 12:12; Romans 12:5. See Hort, u. s., p. 161.

τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ τὰ πάντα ἐν πᾶσιν πληρουμένου, ‘the fulfilment (perfect expression) of Him who is being fulfilled (perfectly expressed) in respect of every thing in all things or persons.’ On πλήρωμα see Additional Note. πληρουμένου: this must, as Robinson shows, be taken as a passive. The fact that Origen and Chrysostom took it so without hesitation is a clear proof that they found nothing to stumble at in the construction of τὰ πάντα. on that hypothesis. τὰ πάντα, adverbial as in Ephesians 4:15. It does not here, as in Ephesians 1:11, = the universe. ἐν πᾶσιν: the parallel passages (1 Corinthians 12:6; 1 Corinthians 15:28; Colossians 3:11) show that this part of the phrase preserves its full force. It is not a mere reduplication of τὰ πάντα. It is not easy to say whether it is masc., as in Ephesians 4:6, or neut., as in Ephesians 6:16. Perhaps Bengel’s is the best solution, neutrum masculini potestatem includens.


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Ephesians 1:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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Sunday, October 25th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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