Sunday, May 28th, 2023
Dunagan's Commentary on the Bible Dunagan's Commentary
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Ephesians 1". "Dunagan's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ dun/ ephesians-1.html. 1999-2014.
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Ephesians 1". "Dunagan's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
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All spiritual blessings in Christ: 1:3-14
Chosen in Christ: 1”4
Adopted through Christ: 1:5
Abundant grace in Christ: 1:6
Redemption and forgiveness in Christ: 1:7
Knowledge and Wisdom in Christ: 1:8-9
God’s heritage our inheritance in Christ: 1:11-14
Prayer for the Church in Ephesus:
The constant object of Paul's prayers: 1:15-16
Prayer for enlightenment: 1:17-19
The exaltation of Christ: 1:20-23
“After Paul explained the spiritual blessings in Christ (1:3-14), he expressed his earnest desire that Christians realize the extent of God's power and grace exercised on our behalf (1:15-23). These statements are made in grand, lengthy sentences. The first contains two hundred and two words in the original Greek (1:3-14) and the second contains one hundred and sixty-nine words (1:15-23)” (Caldwell p. 47). “Like the doxology (1:3-14), the prayer is but one sentence” (Lenski p. 387). “First, he blesses God for having blessed us in Christ; then he prays that God will open our eyes to grasp to fullness of this blessing. For a healthy Christian life today it is of the utmost importance to follow Paul's example and keep Christian praise and Christian prayer together. Some Christians seem to do little but pray for new spiritual blessings , apparently oblivious of the fact that God has already blessed them in Christ, that they become complacent and appear to have no appetite to know or experience their Christian privileges more deeply. If we keep together praise and prayer we are unlikely to lose our spiritual equilibrium” (Stott pp. 51-52).
“As the apostle proclaimed God's order to the post-Augustan Roman era which was marked by ‘a process of social disintegration’, so Ephesians is today ‘the most contemporary book in the Bible’, since it promises community in a world of disunity, reconciliation in place of alienation and peace instead of war” (Stott p. 16).
Eph_1:1 “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, to the saints that are at Ephesus, and the faithful in Christ Jesus”
“Paul”: “In addition to calling him ‘Saul’ his father gave his baby boy the Roman name ‘Paul’ since the child was born a Roman citizen” (Lenski p. 344). “An apostle of Christ Jesus”: “Then his readers will do well to give heed to his words as spoken by one whose mission is divine” (Erdman p. 27). Often Paul spoke of his apostolic mission ( 1Co_1:1 ; 1Co_9:1 ; Gal_1:11-16 ; Rom_1:1-5 ; Eph_3:1-8 ; 1Ti_1:12-16 ). “Through the will of God”: “Paul did not become an apostle through a set of fortuitous circumstances, he did not grow into this office” (Lenski p. 345). “The accent in his voice here is not that of pride but of sheer amazement” (Barclay p. 75). “For this ministry he had not volunteered, nor had the church appointed him” (Stott p. 21) ( Gal_1:11-16 ). Added to this, the other apostles recognized that Paul was an apostle ( Gal_2:7-9 ) and wrote by inspiration ( 2Pe_3:15-16 ). Jesus noted that to reject one of His apostles is the equivalent of rejecting Him and His Father ( Mat_10:40 ).
Nothing has really changed, even in the First Century Paul was forced to defend his apostolic status, and had to remind Christians that God spoke through Him ( Col_1:1 ; 1Th_2:13 ; 1Ti_1:1 ; 2Ti_1:1 ; Tit_1:3 ). There are many religious people who need to be equally reminded of these truths in our own time. Stott reminds us of the following: “Then we must listen to the message of Ephesians with appropriate attention and humility . For we must regard its author neither as a private individual who is ventilating his personal opinions, nor as a gifted but fallible human teacher, nor even as the church's greatest missionary hero, but as ‘an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God’, and therefore as a teacher whose authority is precisely the authority of Jesus Christ Himself, in whose name and by whose inspiration he writes” (pp. 21-22). We should also note that Paul was conscious of what he was writing. He knew that this letter was an authoritative message from Heaven. “The Ephesians are receiving an apostolic letter, one that is to be appreciated accordingly” (Lenski p. 345).
“To the saints”: “He is not referring by this familiar word to some spiritual elite within the congregation, a minority of exceptionally holy Christians, but rather to all God's people” (Stott p. 22). If the members of the church at Corinth could be called "saints" ( 1Co_1:2 ), then we know that the word is used for all Christians, that is, anyone who has come into contact with the blood of Christ. The Roman Catholic idea that some Christians lived exceptional lives, so exceptional that they do not need all their good works to enter into heaven, and hence we can avail ourselves to their "spiritual leftovers", is false. Jesus reminded the apostles that after all is said and done, in the end, they would be viewed as unprofitable servants ( Luk_17:10 ). “At Ephesus”: “Some very ancient authorities omit this phrase, including the Chester Beatty Papyrus 46, dated about 200 A.D. Also the phrase as it stands in the Vatican and Sinaitic codices was apparently added by a later copyist. The most widely accepted explanation of this is that some early copies left the words ‘at Ephesus’ out on purpose so that other churches might insert their own names” (Coffman p. 115). Erdman adds, “the words ‘at Ephesus’ are found in all but three existing Greek manuscripts, in the writings of the church fathers, and in all ancient versions of the New Testament” (p. 28). And Boles observes, “On the other hand, in defense of the genuineness of the phrase, it should be noted that in all other places where Paul says, ‘to the saints’ he always adds the place where the saints reside” (p. 198). “And the faithful in Christ Jesus”: “And who are faithful in Christ Jesus” (NASV). “It is to be included with the saints under the one article” (Vincent p. 363). Yet some see two groups of Christians in this sentence, hence two groups that this letter was originally addressed to. First the Christians at Ephesus, and secondly, faithful Christians everywhere. “Faithful”: Believing and trustworthy, true and genuine Christians. “In Christ Jesus”: “This phrase, or its equivalent, occurs 176 times in Pauline writings, 36 times in Ephesians alone” (Coffman p. 116). “It denotes a vital union and fellowship with Christ” (Erdman p. 29).
When we see this grand phrase, we must always remember that there is only one way "into Christ Jesus" . There is only one way to gain entrance into this fellowship, that is, hearing the gospel, faith, repentance, confession and baptism ( Gal_3:26-27 ). Recently some in the liberal churches have ridiculed the "five steps of salvation". But brethren, how can we ridicule the conditions which stand between the sinner and being "in Christ"? In addition, we need to be very careful about making fun of the need to be baptized, for Paul placed baptism in the same list as he placed God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the one faith, and our one hope ( Eph_4:4-6 )!
Eph_1:2 “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”
“Grace”: “One of the leading words of the epistle. It is used 13 times” (Vincent p. 363). “And the Lord Jesus Christ”: By placing Jesus next to the Father as a source of grace and peace, Paul demonstrates that Jesus is to be viewed as an equal with the Father. Compare Php_4:7 with Col_3:15 . ‘Lord”: “Shortly before the coming of Jesus, the word ‘Lord’ became the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name ‘Jehovah’ or ‘Yahweh’ in the Septuagint version of the Scriptures. All implications of the term apply to Jesus; He is our owner and master; He is God” (Boles p. 200). God's grace and peace are only for those "in Christ Jesus". There is no peace for those outside of Christ ( Joh_3:36 ).
Let God be praised for all the following
“With this profound verse (1:3), Paul began a doxology which runs through verse 14, composed of one long sentence. Some of the grandest words in the vocabulary of Christianity are used in it, such as adoption, redemption, foreordained, heritage and sealed” (Coffman pp. 118-119). “In the Greek the long passage from verse 3 to verse 14 is one sentence, gift after gift and wonder after wonder from God pass before our eyes” (Barclay pp. 76-77). “As Paul dictates, his speech pours out of his mouth in a continuous cascade. ‘We enter this epistle through a magnificent gateway’. It is ‘a golden chain’ of many links, or a ‘kaleidoscope of dazzling lights and shifting colors’. William Hendriksen likens it to ‘a snowball tumbling down a hill, picking up volume as it descends’” (Stott p. 32).
Eph_1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ”
“Blessed”: To be adorable or blessed. “Placed first in the clause for emphasis” (Vincent p. 363). “Praise be to the God” (Phi). “When we bless God we acknowledge His grace, praise His glory, we admit that this greatness and goodness deserve all praise and glory” (Boles p. 201). “Blessed is translated from a root verb from which we get our words eulogy and eulogize. The verb denotes the idea of praising or speaking well of” (Caldwell p. 8). As Lenski observes, “No task should delight us more. There is too little contemplation of God, too little praise of Him” (p. 351). The Biblical writers often paused to declare the greatness of God ( Psa_145:1-21 ; Psa_66:20 ; Psa_41:13 ; Psa_72:18 ; 2Co_1:3-4 ; 1Pe_1:3 ).
“Who has blessed us”: God is the source or origin of every blessing that we enjoy. His initiative is set forth plainly. "He chose" (1:4); "He predestined" (1:5); "He freely bestowed" (1:6). These are wonderful verses for anyone to read who complains, “What did God ever do for me?” “With every spiritual blessing”:
Those outside of Christ are even allowed to share in God's physical blessings ( Mat_5:45 ; Luk_6:35 ; Act_14:16-17 ). But the same is not true for His spiritual blessings. Every Spiritual blessing is found "in Christ"---which means that none exist outside of Christ. Remember the only way into Christ, is through faith and baptism ( Gal_3:26-27 ). Hence baptism stands between one and every spiritual blessing. Obviously, one is not saved prior to being baptized. This is why Paul places baptism among a list of very essential and important truths ( Eph_4:4-6 ). Specific spiritual blessings are mentioned in this context. Only those "in Christ" share in these blessings, such as sonship (1:5); grace (1:6); redemption, and forgiveness of sin (1:7). Unfortunately, we often seek God's physical blessings more than we praise Him for the spiritual blessings He has freely and abundantly given us. Boles makes a good point when he says, “It may be a good index of our own spirituality to consider for which kind of blessings we are most likely to cry out, ‘Praise the Lord!'” (pp. 202-203). “Every”: How naive for any Christian to claim that they are "deprived"! “The expression was evidently used by Paul to convey the idea that the totality of all blessings of a spiritual nature and having eternal value are to be found exclusively ‘in Christ’” (Coffman p. 118). The practical application here is that the unfaithful Christian can never blame their failure to remain faithful upon God. Seeing that God has given every spiritual blessing , any failure must be our fault in not making good use of these blessings ( 2Pe_1:3 ; 2Ti_3:16-17 ; Jud_1:3 ).
“In the heavenly places”: “ Places is supplied, the Greek meaning ‘in the heavenlies’” (Vincent p. 364). This expression is found five times in this letter (1:20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12). “The realm of spiritual things is a realm of reality which reaches beyond the earthly” (Caldwell p. 15). “Christ is exalted to the heavenly realm, and thus those who are ‘in Him’ belong to that heavenly realm also” (Coffman p. 118). A higher reality exists than mere physical existence. Hence atheists do not live in reality, they deny it. It is the Christian who lives in the "real world", the realm which will exist long after this physical realm is gone ( 2Pe_3:10-11 ). To be successful, Christians must accept and live in this higher reality. Our decisions concerning what we say, believe, or do on earth, must always take this higher reality into consideration. Here is where our "mind" must be focused ( Col_3:1-2 ). Only when we embrace this reality can we properly evaluate the world or value of any earthly object or experience. Temptation can only be successfully resisted when we are focused on this realm ( James 1:2-4; 12 ). Or, in other words, only when we meet the devil on a spiritual plane, can we be consistently successful against his attacks ( Eph_6:10-18 ; 1Pe_5:9 “ But resist him firm in your faith” ).
I like what someone called the church, a colony of heaven upon the earth ( Php_3:21 ). Vincent said, “The meaning is that the spiritual blessings of God are found in heaven and are brought thence to us” (p. 364). I think he is on the right track. "In Christ", spiritual blessings that exist in heaven, such as fellowship with God, communication with God, true sonship with God, grace, and the freedom to worship God and have God accept that worship, are found. You see, I am forgiven in heaven, God hears my prayers in heaven, when I worship or pray, I draw near to the throne of God ( Heb_4:14-16 ). Thus being “in Christ” is as near as one can come to heaven, and still be in the physical body!
Eph_1:4 “even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before Him in love”
“Even as”: “The first stanza now turns to the past. It traces these blessings to an eternal purpose. It states that they are in accordance with the divine choice” (Erdman p. 33). “Paul penetrates to the very bottom and does not stop halfway” (Lenski p. 355). “He chose us”: “He chose us. We were not forced upon Him--He wanted us! Neither was this a last-minute concession on His part--He made this choice before the world was even created” (Boles p. 203) ( 2Pe_3:9 ; Rom_5:6-8 ). “In Him”: That is, in a relationship with Christ we become the chosen.
The Bible does teach predestination, but not after the Calvinistic variety. Notice the phrase "In Him". God foreknew, before the foundation of the world, that He would save people "in Christ". Both the realm and conditions of salvation were foreknown ( 1Pe_1:20 ; 1Pe_2:4 ; Rom_1:17 ). But to say that God chose specifically "who" would be saved or lost, without any consideration of what decisions they would make in life, is false. The people to whom Jesus and the Apostles preached were called upon to "repent" ( Mar_1:15 ; Act_17:30 ). As Boles remarks, “and their destiny depends upon their response” (p. 203). ( Act_2:38 ; Act_2:40 ; Act_13:46 ; Rev_22:17 ; 2Pe_3:9 ). The gospel, the means by which God "calls" ( 2Th_2:14 ), was to be preached to all creation ( Mar_16:16 ). Hence, God has not pre-determined the saved or lost status of any individual, because everyone is given the same opportunity. “Jesus taught that to be included among the ‘chosen’, people must not only be invited-- they must also accept the invitation ( Mat_22:1-14 )” (Boles p. 203). God is no respecter of persons.( Act_10:34-35 ; Rom_2:11 ). Calvinistic predestination makes God look like a hypocrite for He wants all men saved ( 2Pe_3:9 ), but if Calvinism is true He has already acted in a manner contrary to that professed belief. The very people "chosen" in Eph_1:4 , are expected to live a life that is "holy and blameless" (1:4), and these same people can forfeit their salvation ( Eph_5:6 ). Hence if a Christian can end up lost (which the Bible clearly teaches, Gal_5:4 ), then we know that God has not "locked" anyone into a "saved" or "lost" status. The "chosen" are those "in Him", that means in Christ. Thus becoming one of the "chosen" is conditional ( Gal_3:26-27 ).
“Before the foundation of the world”: The universe is not eternal, but rather it did have a definite beginning. The term foundation here means founding or creation of the world. God’s plan to save people “in Christ” is not some addition to Judaism, rather it is the fulfillment of God’s eternal purpose. Premillennialism with its insinuation that the death of Christ was a last minute decision, contradicts this verse. Before God created the universe, God decided that salvation would be placed "in Christ", i.e. Jesus would die for the sins committed by mankind. And the relationship which such obedient believers in Christ would compose, would be called "the church" (3:10-11)
This of course brings up the question, “Why did God create mankind, if He knew that such a creation would result in the sacrificial death of Jesus?”
I like what Stott said, “That He destined us for a higher dignity than even creation would bestow on us” (p. 39). Even many Christians think that God "blundered" somewhere in His creation of mankind. They think, “Why create a free-willed creature, with a mind of its own? Aren't such creatures an easy prey for the devil?” Eph_1:4 , gives me another view of the creation of Adam and Eve and the fall. You see, some think that the devil pulled one over on God, with his temptation of the first couple. But when you see the whole "eternal picture", I think that God pulled one over on the devil! God places two free-willed people in the garden. He knows the devil will think that such are easy prey. He knows that eventually mankind will sin, for He did not create robots. But such "sin" will then allow Him to implement His plan of deliverance. The long range plan was to get man to heaven and in the process destroy all the powers of evil.( Gen_3:15 ). In other words, the devil thought he had "entrapped" Adam and Eve and the whole human race, when in reality, God had just entrapped him. Sin opened the door for a powerful Savior. A Savior, who in turn would break the back of the devil---forever ( Mat_25:41 ). This also shows how much God desires that we end up saved! God thought such an investment, such a high price for our deliverance, was worth it.
“That we”: God also foreknew what type of character He would expect from those "in Christ". Eph_2:10 also reveals that God knew the type of mission or service in which those in Christ would be involved. “Holy and without blemish”: A condition which is only possible when one is forgiven ( Rom_4:7-8 ). Here is what God was looking for when He made His plan, people that would separate themselves from the sins of the world ( 1Jn_2:15-17 ), and dedicate their lives to His service. ( Gal_2:20 ). Some people try to become "without blemish" by watering down the moral standard of the Bible. Others argue that they have earned or merited perfection. Some say that when God looks at me, He really does not see the real me, but He sees the perfect Christ, hence I always look good to God. In reality the only way that a person can stand before God "without blemish", is to be forgiven. and such requires that a person confess and repent of their sins ( 1Jn_1:8-10 ; 2Pe_3:9 ). In addition, such a state is also conditioned upon remaining faithful ( Col_1:22-23 ).
“In love”: Does this expression modify God's choosing us or our motivation to be holy and without blemish? In the end, either would be true. Boles points out: “The qualifying phrase ‘in love’ may be taken with the end of verse 4. In this case it would add a specific quality to holiness and blamelessness; they would be ‘coupled with love’. If ‘in love’ is taken with verse 5 (as RSV and NIV), it expresses God's attitude toward the people he is choosing to adopt” (p. 204).
Eph_1:5 “having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will”
“Foreordained”: To predetermine. God determined in advance that all those who manifest faith in Christ and obey His conditions for salvation, would be adopted as sons ( Gal_3:26-29 ). “Adoption as sons”: “The word adoption seems to stress the fact that the Christian's privileges in God's family are totally undeserved” (Coffman p. 124).
In Roman law the adopted child enjoyed all the rights as a natural child would. “In the eyes of the law he was a new person. So new was he that even all debts and obligations connected with his previous family were abolished as if they had never existed” (Barclay p. 80). The adoption is only possible by being born again ( Joh_3:5 ), which includes faith and baptism ( Gal_3:26-27 ). Under Roman law “so long as he lived, the father had absolute legal control over the life of the adopted son. The son, in turn, totally surrendered himself to the new father in order to receive his name and inheritance. The father gave great gifts to the son. The son responded with respect for the father” (Caldwell p. 22). From these truths, obvious conclusions are demanded: “Sonship implies responsibility, because the heavenly Father does not spoil His children. On the contrary, ‘He disciplines us for our good’ ( Heb_12:10 ). It is inconceivable that we should enjoy a relationship with God as His children without accepting the obligation to imitate our Father and cultivate the family likeness” (Stott p. 40). Being a Christian is not a burden, rather it is the chance to live in a wonderful family ( 1Pe_1:14-16 ; 1Ti_3:15 ).
“Through Jesus Christ”: There is only one avenue to fellowship with God ( Joh_14:6 ; Act_4:12 ). “Unto Himself”: “To bring us to Himself, into true and perfect and adoring fellowship with Him who is the source and giver of all life and blessedness and joy” (Erdman p. 35). God wants us for Himself! “According to the good pleasure of His will”: “Such being His gracious will and pleasure” (Wey). “Because it pleased Him and was His kind intent” (Amp). “Because it pleased Him” (Vincent p. 365).
What motivated God to desire to bring sinners back into His fellowship? The "delight" to see people rescued from physical and spiritual ruin ( 1Ti_2:4 ). God never has regretted anything that He has done for man's salvation. Even though most have rejected His gracious offer, God still has no regrets about sending Jesus to die for our sins. “God is not merely willing to save us-- He delighted to do so!” (Boles p. 205). Recently I ran across the following quote: “Another feminist theologian who led the Jesus seminar was Kwok Pui-Lan. She said the Asian experience cannot imagine any Jesus. She stated, ‘We cannot allow others to define our sin. What is our sin? Who is this funny God that would sacrifice a lamb’” [Note: _ AFA Journal, February 1994, p. 17]
It is really an insult to say that Asian people cannot comprehend the ideas of self-sacrifice and total commitment to those they love. Surely they can. The honest truth is, when you really see the reality of the human condition, then you can image a Jesus, because the reality of the human condition is that we are sinners ( Rom_3:23 ). Every day, such a truth is self-evident. God isn't "funny" and neither is the sacrifice of Christ "weird". It is the highest example of true love, dedication, commitment and compassion that the world has ever seen, and those who "don't get it", mark themselves out as people who do not understand what "real" love is all about.
Eph_1:6 “to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved”
“To the praise of the glory of His grace”: An oft repeated expression in this section (1:12,14). “That we might learn to praise that glorious generosity of His” (Phi).
The result of being adopted into God's family should result in "praise" from those adopted. “How can the man who has been adopted into God's family fail to praise him? Appreciation demands it!” (Caldwell p. 24). Col_3:15 “and be ye thankful”. “The glory of God is the revelation of God, and the glory of His grace is His self-disclosure as a gracious God. To live to the praise of the glory of His grace is both to worship Him ourselves by our words and deeds as the gracious God He is, and to cause others to see and to praise Him too” (Stott p. 50). Some Christians seem to have forgotten that our purpose is to declare to others the marvellous nature of the God we serve ( 1Pe_2:9 ). “Yet such Christian talk comes into violent collision with the man-centeredness and self-centeredness of the world. Man, imprisoned in his own little ego , has an almost boundless confidence in the power of his own will, and an almost insatiable appetite for the praise of his own glory. But the people of God have at least begun to be turned inside out. The new society has new values and new ideals. For God's people are God's possession who live by God's will and for God's glory” (Stott p. 50).
“Of His grace”: This is exactly what the sinner needs, God’s unmerited favor! Grace, the word means that God is always in touch with the human condition, He is not unkind or cruel, demanding or unreasonable, rather He is willing to forgive and give people a second chance.
“Freely bestowed on us”: This grace was freely given, completely undeserved and unmerited ( Rom_5:6-8 ). “In the beloved”: Such grace is only found in Christ. Christ is the object of the Father's love, par-excellence ( Mat_3:17 ). Therefore to attack Jesus, is to attack the most precious object of the Father's love. While grace is unmerited, it is conditional. Such grace is only found "in the Beloved"(1:3), and how does one get into Christ? ( Gal_3:26-27 ). Hence faith and baptism stand between everyone and the grace of God. We were lost sinners, on the brink of eternal destruction, completely unable to save ourselves. We were self-centered, deceived, and living by our own wits, which only seemed to further entangle us in frustration, misery, and unhappiness. God came along, offered to adopt us into His own family. He offered us a new name, new friends, a new life, a new purpose for living, and a new way to live. Well what are we going to do in light of such truths? Shall we turn our back on it?
Eph_1:7 “in whom we have our redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trepasses, according to the riches of His grace”
“In whom”: In Christ. “We have redemption”: This refers to deliverance. “Through His blood”: ( Act_20:28 ; 1Co_6:19-20 ; 1Pe_1:18-19 ).
The word "redemption" is the same word that was used in the ancient world for ransoming a man who is a prisoner of war or a slave; for freeing a man from the penalty of death. This word reminds us that all Christians were once "slaves" of sin ( Joh_8:34 ), and that we were "powerless" to save ourselves. Hence Christianity finds itself condemning all those religious systems that advocate that man eventually saves himself, such as reincarnation. It took the blood of Christ to atone for our sins. Therefore "sin" is a very serious matter and it can never be trivialized.
Before we move on, I think Coffman had a good point when he said, “but one primary truth should be reiterated, namely that God in designing the creation of men with the express purpose of making men His sons through Christ would most certainly not have created men in such a manner that the highest happiness of them could be achieved in the service of Satan rather than in the service of Himself!” (p. 123).
“The forgiveness”: The following passages are beautiful expressions of what it means to be forgiven ( Psa_103:12 ; Mic_7:19 ; Isa_43:25 ).
Barclay points out that even the pagans were haunted by the sense of their own unforgiven sins. “Seneca is full of this kind of feeling of helpless frustration. He said of himself that he was a man not to be tolerated. Men, he said with a kind of despair, love their vices and hate them at the same time . What men need, he cried, is a hand let down to lift them up. All the plays of Aeschylus are founded on one text-‘The doer shall suffer’. Once a man had done an evil thing Nemesis was on his heels; and punishment followed sin as certainly as night followed day” (pp. 81-82). But we only have this "forgiveness", "in Him", and the only way "into Christ" is through faith and baptism ( Gal_3:26-27 ). At this point a number of Scriptures can be tied together: (1) "In Christ" we have access to the benefits of His shed blood ( Eph_1:7 ). Baptism is necessary to enter "into Christ" ( Gal_3:26-27 ). Therefore, baptism brings one into contact with the benefits of Christ's blood. ( Rom_6:3 ). The Church is purchased with the blood of Christ ( Act_20:28 ). People are purchased and made to be a kingdom ( Rev_1:5-6 ). Therefore the church of Christ and the kingdom of God are the same relationship. (3) The church is purchased with the blood, and baptism puts one into contact with the benefits of the blood, therefore baptism is necessary to be a member of the blood bought body of Jesus Christ ( Act_2:38 ; Act_2:41 ; Act_2:47 ). (4) One cannot be saved without the blood of Christ. Baptism puts one into contact with the benefits of His death. Therefore one can't be saved without being baptized ( Mar_16:16 ).
“Trespasses”: “Its meaning suggests the idea of stepping or falling aside from the proper and safe ground” (Caldwell p. 28). “Is that of crossing the line of right” (Lenski p. 367). When God says that sin is a trespass He is saying that there are acts and attitudes that we do not have the right to practice. What is sinful can never be called a “right”. “According to the riches of His grace”: “So abundant was God's grace” (Wey). “Through that full and generous grace” (Phi). “Therein lies the richness of God's free grace” (NEB). “The great opulence of God's affluence is freely and willingly shared with us even when our captivity has resulted from our own stupid, inane negligence and disobedience” (Caldwell p. 29).
Eph_1:8 “which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence”
“Which”: The riches of His grace just mentioned. “He made”: God took the initiative. “Abound toward us”: “Which He lavished upon us” (NASV). The word abound here means to superabound, to be in excess and to exceed and excel.
God isn't "tight" or "frugal" with His grace. When one becomes a Christian they are abundantly forgiven. Their former sins are not momentarily forgotten or set aside, rather they are completely and forever removed. “God spared no expense” (Boles p. 207). No, former sins will not exhaust the depth of God's grace ( Rom_5:20 ; Rom_2:4 ; Eph_2:7 ). Hence, how foolish and unnecessary to end up lost! A "wealth" or vast treasure house of compassion and mercy exists. There is more than enough "grace" to go around for everyone ( 2Pe_3:9 ).
“In all wisdom and prudence”: “Imparting full wisdom and insight” (NEB); “accompanied by countless gifts of wisdom and discernment” (TCNT). Paul seems to be saying that along with this abundant grace, came wisdom and insight, that is, becoming a Christian enables one to come to a knowledge of God's plan and purpose for man. “Wisdom”: “Knowledge that sees into the heart of things, which knows them as they really are. It is the ability to see the great ultimate truths of eternity” (Coffman p. 126).
“Prudence”: “The understanding which leads to right action, the ability to solve the problems of each moment of time” (Coffman p. 126). “It is the intelligent use of knowledge in dealing with the practical problems of life. God has the answers and He knows how to use them” (Caldwell p. 30).
Without instruction concerning what things are "right" and "wrong" and why, forgiving sinners would be a waste of time, because without the knowledge of the truth, we would all just revert back to our old ways. Hence, incorporated into the gospel and along with the conditions for salvation, is also instruction concerning how to serve God acceptably in all our relationships. “This was notably true in the early church where men and women gathered from the lowest ranks of society, even slaves and freedmen, were enabled to understand such truths, for example, as are set forth in this very epistle” (Erdman p. 37). Not only does the gospel bring salvation to the simple-minded, ignorant and naïve, but God's message to man has also proceeded to instruct, teach, and enlighten ( Psa_19:7 ). Finally, God’s plan for saving man in Christ is incredibly wise and prudent!
Eph_1:9 “making known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Him”
“Making known unto us”: God has shared more than "forgiveness" with Christians. God has revealed all the particulars concerning His plan to save mankind, the how, why, when, and where. “The mystery”: In the Bible this word does not mean something that is complicated, obscure or impossible to understand, rather it means something that God had kept secret, and was unrevealed, until He chose to disclose it. Hence, along with the word "mystery" one will usually find a corresponding word or phrase, such as the above statement, "making known unto us" ( Eph_3:4-5 ; Col_1:27 ). This verse reveals that the mystery is no longer a mystery. “Of His will”: In the book of Ephesians, this "mystery" includes the plan to save Gentiles, as well as Jews in Christ (3:3-6). Remember, the Bible is not mysterious, rather it is a revelation. Therefore all views that are rooted in the argument that the Bible is too confusing are false views. Man cannot discover God's will apart from revelation ( 1Co_2:9-13 ). What a gracious God! God wants us forgiven, but God also wants us to come to a "full knowledge of the truth" ( 1Ti_2:4 ; 2Pe_3:18 ). God wants us to see the whole plan unfolded, we wants us to understand "why" and "how". “According to His good pleasure”: It was not just God's plan to save Jews and Gentiles in Christ. It was His pleasure to do so. “It was His loving design” (Knox). “Which He purposed in Him”: It was God's delight to provide a common salvation for all, in Christ. This was His eternal purpose.
Eph_1:10 “unto a dispensation of the fulness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth; in Him, I say”
“Unto”: “With a view to” (NASV). “Put into effect” (NIV). “Dispensation”: “Administration” (NASV). “Which literally means household management” (Barclay p. 84). “It referred in ancient times to the dispensing of order in business administration or household management. God's plan was worked out in an orderly way” (Caldwell pp. 32-33). “Fulness of the times”: God is in control and He has always been in control. God has a timetable and when the time was right, Jesus came into this world ( Gal_4:4 ). When the time was right, He began preaching ( Mar_1:15 ). When the time was right, He died for our sins ( Joh_17:1 ). When the time was right the gospel was proclaimed ( Tit_1:3 ), and when the time is right, Jesus will come again ( Act_17:31 ).
From eternity, God has had a plan, and this plan has been carried out on schedule. The contention of Premillennialism, that the rejection of the Jews caused God to alter His plan, is false. This whole chapter condemns such a low view of God's foreknowledge. God knew exactly what He was doing, and every factor had been taken into account. One will never really understand the history of this planet, without first understanding God's plan ( Act_17:26 ; Dan_5:21 ).
“To sum up”: “To bring back to and gather round the main point” (Vincent p. 367). “To gather up” (Bruce p. 261). “All things in Christ”: The plan was to provide one place for reconciliation. If anyone will be reconciled, then it must be through Christ ( Col_1:20 ; Eph_2:13 ff; Joh_14:6 ; Act_4:12 ). “These phrases summarize the mystery. God reduced all things to a common denominator under one head, Jesus Christ” (Caldwell pp. 33-34). "This verse has been used as the keystone of the doctrine of 'Universalism', to the effect that all men shall be saved in the end” (Coffman p. 128). What a pitiful abuse of this passage! This whole chapter has stressed that salvation is only "in Him". And there are definite conditions for being "in Him" ( Gal_3:26-27 ). Besides that, Jesus Himself exploded the myth that everyone will eventually be saved ( Mat_7:13-14 ; Mat_21:1-46 ; Mat_22:1-46 ; Mat_23:1-39 ). “The things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth”: The things in the above passage could be "people", for only "people" are reconciled. Hence, this verse may be teaching the same truth as found in Heb_9:15 , that reconciliation to God for anyone (even the O.T. faithful or the moral Gentile), will only be because of Christ. In another sense, every part of the physical and heavenly creation exists for Christ. That is, the physical universe only exists to provide mankind the opportunity to obey Christ ( Col_1:16-17 ). In addition, one day all will acknowledge the headship of Christ ( Php_2:9-11 ). “Since Christ is preeminent in God's purpose in the whole universe as well as in the church, the individual who does not have Christ preeminent in his life is entirely out of harmony with the purpose of the Father” (Coffman p. 128). In addition, one is out of harmony with the purpose for the entire universe. Christianity is the only religion that really puts you "in harmony" with "nature".
Eph_1:11 “in whom also we were made a heritage, having been foreordained according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His will”
“In whom”: In Christ. “We were made a heritage”: “The verb means literally to determine, choose, or assign by lot” (Vincent p. 368). “We are dealing with a passive form of the verb which means appoint by lot, allot, assign, we were claimed by God as His portion” (Bruce p. 263). Just like Israel was God's chosen people in the Old Testament ( Deu_32:9 “The Lord's portion is His people”). So Christians (Jewish and Gentile believers) are God's portion since the death of Christ ( Gal_3:26-29 ; Gal_6:16 ; 1Pe_2:9 ). “We get heaven--and God gets us!” (Boles p. 209). Of all that God has created, in the end His portion will be the faithful. “Having foreordained”: Again, all of this was in accordance with His eternal purpose. God predestined that His "portion" would be faithful believers in His Son.
“Who worketh all things after the counsel of His will”: And the Bible reveals this counsel. Notice that God does not work after the influence of human opinion, majority rule or other considerations. He will work the counsel of His will.
Eph_1:12 “to the end that we should be unto the praise of His glory, we who had before hoped in Christ”
“To the end”: Here is the object or final goal. “That we”: Christians. “Should”: This is a choice. “Be unto the praise of His glory”: “Be devoted to the extolling of His glorious attributes” (Wey). “To manifest His glory” (Knox). “Should cause His glory to be praised” (NEB). “We who had before hoped in Christ”: “Who were the first to hope in Christ” (NASV). “Man must look beyond his own selfish view of his life and try to understand that he was created by God and for God, not primarily for himself!” (Caldwell p. 38) ( Ecc_12:13-14 ). Our main purpose is to proclaim the marvellous nature of God to others ( 1Pe_2:9 ; Mat_5:13-16 ). “God is honored in the presence of human beings and angelic powers when men and women, redeemed from sin, live in accordance with His will and display the family likeness which stamps them as His children” (Bruce p. 264). God is also glorified when we worship Him according to His desires and not ours ( Lev_10:1-3 ). “Skeptics have sneered that such a view describes God as egotistical and vain. ‘What kind of God’, they say, ‘creates for His own glory?’” (Caldwell p. 38).
In response I would say: God is worthy ( Rev_5:9 ). Facts are facts. God is worthy to be praised. Our "worth" is inherently wrapped up with God's glory, only when we bow before God, and acknowledge how great He is, can we then find real life, happiness, freedom and contentment. In fact, I only have value if God exists. Our life will only have true meaning, when we attach the proper "meaning and value" to God. Hence, giving God the glory is always in our best interest. And only when I "elevate" God to His proper place in my life, will I find myself elevated ( Luk_18:14 ). In the end, people who exalt themselves, "look small", but those who "exalt God", look "large".
Eph_1:13 “in whom ye also, having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom, having also believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise”
“In whom”: In Christ. “Ye also”: Christians. “Having heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation”: Salvation is impossible without first listening to the truth. Christianity is a "taught" religion, hence, an open and honest heart is essential ( Jam_1:21 ; Luk_8:15 ). Seeing that babies cannot hear and understand the gospel, and are born pure and innocent, they do not need to be saved. Salvation is inherently linked with hearing and believing the gospel message. Therefore, the gospel message is within the understanding of every accountable person. Culture does not come between people and understanding the gospel, for God designed the gospel as a universal message ( Mat_28:19-20 ). Only one message brings salvation. There is no salvation found in the Koran, the Hindu sacred writings, or the book of Mormon ( Rom_1:16 ). To claim that salvation can be gained by listening to other messages besides the message found in the gospel, is to be ashamed of the gospel. “The word of truth”: The gospel message tells us the truth. Concerning God, ourselves, others, and eternity. “In whom, having also believed”: One must believe the gospel that the apostles preached. “Sealed”: “A seal was a sign of ownership; it was a mark of protection; it was a stamp of validity” (Erdman p. 39). ( 2Co_1:22 ; Eph_4:30 ). “The Holy Spirit of promise”: The Spirit who was promised ( Joh_14:26 ; Joh_16:13 ).
Eph_1:14 “which is an earnest of our inheritance, unto the redemption of God's own possession, unto the praise of His glory”
“Which is”: The Holy Spirit. “An earnest”: A pledge, or part of the purchase-money or property given in advance as security for the rest. “Was a regular feature of the Greek business world. It was a part of the purchase price of anything, paid in advance as a guarantee that the rest would in due time be paid” (Barclay p. 87). “The arrabon guarantees that a person is in earnest about his intentions ...Also interesting is the fact that arrabon is the word in modern Greek for an engagement ring” (Boles p. 211). “Of our inheritance”: The Spirit is a down payment of our inheritance and demonstrates that God is serious about giving Christians eternal life. “Unto the redemption of God’s own possession”: “Until the day when God completes the redemption of what he has paid for as His own” (Phi). God's own possession is Christians ( 1Pe_2:9 ; 1Co_3:23 ; 1Co_6:19-20 ).
The sealing of the Spirit does not remove free will ( Eph_4:30 ). Even Christians who had the spiritual gifts of the Spirit, found themselves believing doctrinal error ( Gal_1:6 ; 1Co_15:12 ) and being in danger of losing their salvation ( Gal_5:4 ). Nothing in these two verses demands a "personal” supernatural indwelling of the Spirit". Caldwell makes the following comments: “The Holy Spirit articulates the promises of God and thus becomes the assurance of salvation to the believer until the time he actually receives all rewards from God. Too many are looking for something to establish that their salvation is sure. Too many expect that God will send the Holy Spirit into them in some mysterious manner and thereby assure them that all is certain. God has spoken His promises through His Spirit and that is enough . When the Holy Spirit speaks God's promises, He becomes our down payment on salvation . The man who does not accept them as surety does not have true saving faith” (pp. 45-46). Hence, the Spirit "seals" us in Christ by: Instructing us and enabling us to continue in this relationship ( Col_1:23 ). Giving us an objective standard by which to measure ourselves, so we know whether we are in the faith or not ( 2Co_13:5 ). Declaring us true children of God, when our life comes into conformity with God's revealed will ( Rom_8:16 ). The very existence of the New Testament proves that God is serious about saving those who believe in Christ.
“Unto the praise of His glory”: “And so manifest God's glory” (Knox). “All this is designed to magnify God. Why should man resent God's control? Why should man exalt his own will above the will of God when our God is so great and loving and kind?” (Caldwell p. 47). Christians need to praise God for His truth revealed through the Spirit, because without it, we would be lost ( Jer_10:23 ). Everyday we should thank God for the Bible.
Eph_1:15 “For this cause I also, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which is among you, and the love which ye show toward all the saints”
“For this cause”: In view of all the blessings that God had bestowed upon them. If we find ourselves lacking motivation to pray, it means that we have forgotten what God has done for us. The Christian who daily remembers all that God has done for them, doesn't need to be reminded to pray. “I also”: “I for my part” (Bruce p. 269). “Having heard”:
When Paul wrote this letter, it had been five years since he had been with the Christians in Ephesus. Paul used the same type of language in describing "hearing" about the faithfulness of Christians he had converted ( 1Th_3:6 ; Phm_1:4-5 ). In addition, this congregation probably contains a number of new members, converted since Paul left.
“Of the faith in the Lord Jesus which is among you”: Paul rejoices to hear of their continued faith in Jesus Christ. “The faith in the Lord Jesus which prevails among you” (TCNT). “And the love which ye show toward all the saints”: Faith in the Lord and love for brethren are two of the most basic distinguishing marks of the Christian ( Col_1:4 ; 1Th_1:3 ; 2Th_1:3 ). If one believes that Jesus is LORD, then one will submit to all that He has said ( Luk_6:46 ). People that really believe that Jesus is LORD do not argue with God, and they do not place themselves above the Bible. Faith practically demonstrates itself in obedience to all of God's commands, including the commands which tell us how to treat our brethren ( Gal_5:6 ; Gal_5:13 ; 1Jn_3:22-23 ; 1Jn_3:10-11 ; 1Jn_4:7-8 ; 1Jn_4:11 ; 1Jn_4:20 ). Hence something is seriously wrong when a professed Christian wants to stay at arm's length away from other believers. “The two necessarily go together. It is impossible to be in a right relationship with the head, while being cut off from all the rest of the body” (Boles p. 213). Love for other Christians is to be a major characteristic of true believers ( Joh_13:35 ). “The two things which must characterize any true Church are loyalty to Christ and love to men” (Barclay p. 88). Love for brethren is always the product of a genuine faith, it is evidence that one's professed faith is indeed real. Note that this love is for "all" saints and not just directly towards self-chosen little cliques of Christian friends. Many texts stress that Christians are to love other Christians in very practical ways ( Gal_6:1-2 ; Gal_6:10 ; Eph_4:31-32 ; Col_3:13 ; 1Th_5:11-14 ; Jam_2:15-17 ). A great argument exists here against the doctrine of faith-only. No one would claim that the Christian has fulfilled such commands as Joh_13:35 , at the point they say they love their brethren. Everyone realizes love must be demonstrated, in order to obey the command to "love your brethren". And yet, these save people claim that one is saved at the moment they say they believe in God. In like manner, to fulfill the command "to believe", such "faith" needs to demonstrate itself in practical ways, such as repentance, confession, and baptism.
Eph_1:16 “cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers”
“Cease not”: “Paul had left Ephesus for the last time around A.D. 57, and as he writes this epistle from Roman imprisonment, five or six years have gone by. Still, he is faithfully lifting up the Ephesian saints in his daily prayers” (Boles p. 213). Paul also prayed for other congregations on a continual basis ( Rom_1:9 ; Php_1:4 ; Col_1:9 ; 1Th_1:2 ; 2Th_1:11 ). “Give thanks for you”: He does so because of their faithfulness. Gratitude must express itself to God in prayer. “Making mention”: Paul is specifically mentioning the Ephesians in his prayers. The following verses will reveal what Paul precisely prayed for, in reference to these Christians.
Too often we are the sole object of our prayers. Have we learned to be unselfish in our prayers? Paul was continually in a prayerful attitude and prayer on the behalf of other Christians, even in other congregations, was a regular part of Paul's life ( Luk_18:1 ; Eph_6:18 ; 1Th_5:17 ). Am I living in such a way that other Christians give thanks for my life? Or, is my life an object of worry and concern to other members of the Church? One of the most effective ways of encouraging other Christians is to live a faithful life! Often our prayers are too general. When Paul prayed, he mentioned specific congregations or members and he prayed that such Christians would realize some definite things. It's a lot easier to pray for another Christian when you know their specific needs. When it comes to prayer, how much endurance do we have? Paul had been praying for these Christians for five years. Even though Daniel had been away from Jerusalem, his family and relatives for some 60 plus years, he still prayed to God frequently ( Dan_6:10 ).
Eph_1:17 “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him”
“That”: Here is the substance of such prayers. “For despite his unceasing gratitude to God for them, he is still not satisfied with them . That they may appreciate to the fullest possible extent the implications of the blessing they have already received” (Stott pp. 53-54). Paul continually "pushed" his converts to abound and improve themselves. Paul never said in any of his letters, “You guys are okay and you do not need to work on anything.” Growth was always expected of all Christians ( 1Th_4:10 ; 2Pe_3:18 ). “God of our Lord Jesus Christ”: This statement does not mean that Jesus is somehow less than God, because the word "Lord", is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew "Jehovah". As other passages teach, Jesus had voluntarily taken a subservient role to the Father in the creation and redemption of man ( Php_2:6-11 ). “The Father of glory”:
'”To whom all the glory of deity belongs” (Lenski p. 392). As a result He is the one that is worthy to be praised ( Psa_18:3 ). In 1Co_2:8 , Jesus is called the "Lord of glory". “The Father stands unchallenged in the magnitude of His glory” (Boles p. 214). One problem in the church today, is that some members are more "impressed" with the things of the world, than the nature of God. Some do not hesitate to call something or someone in the material world, "awesome", but may seem embarrassed to praise God with similar language. “A spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him”: “The apostle did not pray that God would give to all the Ephesians the knowledge of the doctrines of the gospel, by an immediate revelation made to themselves: but that He would enable them to understand the revelation of these doctrines which was made to the apostles” (Coffman pp. 132-133). “Spirit”: This use of the word "spirit", seems to point more towards a "mental disposition". Even the translators of the ASV and NASV seemed to see this, by rendering the word spirit with a small "s". “A spirit that is rich in the wisdom derived from God's revelation” (Lenski p. 394).
Paul is not praying for some mystical influence to come upon these Christians. Neither is he praying that God would give them the Holy Spirit, so that they could understand the Holy Spirit's message revealed through the Apostles. Nor is Paul teaching that some truths in God's revelation are so deep and hidden that the Christian needs some "special illumination", to see them. It is not the limited human mind that prevents people from seeing the truth, rather it is wrong attitudes in the human mind ( 2Th_2:10-12 ) "Special illumination" is not needed to understand the Bible, for we understood many parts of it only too well, even when we were non-Christians. Compare this statement with Col_1:9 “that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding”. Other passages teach that this is accomplished by: The right attitude or disposition towards the truth, which is an honest and humble heart ( Luk_8:15 ; Jam_1:21 ), and diligent study ( Heb_5:14 ; 2Ti_2:15 ). In other words, Paul is praying that God's revelation would prick the hearts of these Christians, and that they would humbly embrace it. Such a disposition is the key to growth in the true wisdom and the true knowledge of God. “Paul did not ask that God may give these blessings to some elite, philosophical company of Christians. He prayed for all the brethren” (Caldwell pp. 50-51). Note carefully, that Paul, in other places, prayed that God would give Christians: "Peace" ( 2Th_3:16 ), and "patience" ( Rom_15:5 ). In both instances, human cooperation is demanded. The same is true in the above instance. God does not miraculously or unconditionally give Christians a "spirit of wisdom". Hence, this constitutes one more item of evidence that tells us that this "spirit" is a disposition or attitude, which the Christian must cooperate with God in achieving.
“Wisdom”: “Includes also the understanding of how to apply the things of God to life. It is expressed in prudent, practical, intelligent, sagacious activity” (Caldwell p. 51). Not only are Christians to have a disposition characterized by gentleness, meekness, power, discipline, and love ( Gal_6:1 ; 2Ti_1:7 ), but also a mind that appreciates divine truth and strives to apply it in everyday life. Hence, the Christian who prays for wisdom ( Jam_1:5 ), must first of all appreciate wisdom. “Revelation”: “True insight” (TCNT). This "revelation" is connected with the next phrase, true insight into the knowledge of God. “In the knowledge of Him”: The Greek term knowledge here refers to a full discernment. It is more than a mere knowledge of the facts, but a full, complete and thorough knowledge. “This is the noun form of the verb know fully ( 1Co_13:12 )” (Spiritual Sword Lectureship p. 18). “There is no higher knowledge than the knowledge of God Himself. Philosophy taking man for its center says know thyself ; only the inspired word which proceeds from God has been able to say know God “ (Stott p. 54). The knowledge of God is the key that unlocks the proper understanding of all other fields ( Jer_9:23 ; Jer_8:9 ). “To know God is to be wise” (Vincent p. 370). The word of God, the message revealed and recorded by the apostles is able to give anyone a "full knowledge" of God, the truth ( 1Ti_2:4 ), and Jesus Christ ( 2Pe_3:18 ). Hence, a fuller knowledge of God cannot be found outside the Bible. Therefore, we must reject any theory that claims that the Bible is not sufficient to deliver this full and intimate knowledge. Thus those professed believers which are waiting for some "mystical experience" need to start studying the Scriptures just like the rest of us. To fully know God, is the only way that one can really "know thyself" ( Gen_1:26-27 ; Ecclesiastes 12:1; 13-14 ). “A Christian must have more than just raw enthusiasm” (Boles p. 214) ( Mat_13:20-21 ; Rom_10:1-2 ). Growth in the true knowledge of God is essential to growth in holiness and spirituality ( Heb_5:14 ; 2Pe_1:5-11 ).
Eph_1:18 “having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”
“Having”: “That your minds may be so enlightened” (TCNT). “These words are a rather poetic restatement of what Paul means by ‘give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation”” (Spiritual Sword Lectureship p. 18). “Eyes of your heart”: “The heart regarded as having eyes looking out” (Robertson p. 520). “His request is for an awakened and an enlarged moral perception, for a clearer spiritual vision” (Erdman p. 43). “Heart is not merely the seat of emotion, as in popular usage, but of thought and will” (Vincent p. 371). “In biblical usage the heart is the whole inward self , comprising mind as well as emotion” (Stott p. 54). “Enlightened”: Contrary to popular opinion, Christianity does not bring one into a state of ignorance, in fact the Christian is the truly "enlightened" person ( Heb_6:4 ; Heb_10:32 ). It is the world that lives in darkness ( Act_26:18 ; Eph_4:17-19 ). God will not force one to open their eyes to the truth. Seeing the full truth demands a couple of things on our part: That we are honest ( Luk_8:15 ), that we value "truth" above our own personal convenience, that is, that we love the truth more than we love ourselves ( 2Th_2:10-12 ), and that we make an honest effort to understand ( Act_17:11 ). We must acknowledge that God's revelation is the final authority and only standard for what is "truth" ( Joh_17:17 ), and having one's spiritual eyes opened depends upon our own choice ( Mat_13:15 ), and is linked with a humble attitude ( Jam_1:21 ). “That ye may know”: “Actually get to know” (Lenski pp. 395-396). Know more fully and more practically.
“Nothing can bless men any more than sensitivity to spiritual truth . It is a sad fact that people may hear the glorious news of salvation in Christ until it no longer arouses any emotion at all in their hearts. God grant that our hearts may never be insensitive to such a message” (Coffman p. 133).
What we need to appreciate and know fully
“What is the hope of His calling”: “That you may realize the hope given by God's call” (TCNT). “The hope to which He has called them” (Bruce p. 270). Notice the singular "hope", for only one hope exists for all Christians ( Eph_4:4 ). The Jehovah Witness doctrine of a heavenly and earthly hope, is not the "hope" mentioned in the gospel. The hope mentioned in the gospel, is eternal life ( Tit_1:2-3 ). God "calls" us through the gospel ( 2Th_2:14 ), and that call urges us to remain faithful so we can obtain eternal life. Unfortunately, many members never seriously contemplate what God wants to give the faithful. We do not allow ourselves to dwell on how glorious eternal life will be ( 1Pe_1:4 ; Rev_21:4 ). “His call was not a random or purposeless thing. He had some object in view when He called us. He called us to Christ and holiness, to freedom and peace, to suffering and glory. More simply, it was a call to an altogether new life in which we know, love, obey and serve Christ, enjoy fellowship with Him and with each other, and look beyond our present suffering to the glory which will one day be revealed” (Stott pp. 55-56). This hope includes the redemption of our physical bodies ( Rom_8:23 ; 1Co_15:42 ff), the freedom from decay, corruption and death, complete satisfaction and fulfillment, the removal of everything that causes pain and frustration, a glorious home that will never become ordinary ( 1Pe_1:4 ), no more conflict within, eternal contentment, purpose and meaning ( Rom_2:10 ), and the perfect relationship ( Rev_21:7 ). This hope is an anchor ( Heb_6:18-19 ). As Paul observes, if we really fully understood what God was wanting to give us, we would certainly put far more effort into living the Christian life, and sin would be seen for what it really is, a cheap imitation of happiness.
“The riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”: “How gloriously rich God's portion in His people is” (Wms). The "inheritance" mentioned above, is not our inheritance, but God's inheritance. Out of everything that God has created, all that God will get is His people. “Paul prays that believers may understand how precious this church is to God. Members of the church, however, should appreciate their dignity. They are God's own people” (Erdman p. 44). “To say, as in v. 11, that ‘we get heaven and God gets us’ initially causes one to think that God is being short-changed . But if we could really see the church as God sees it, like a beautiful bride (5:27), we would understand how highly God values His inheritance” (Boles p. 215). Do we appreciate the church like God does? Do we view and treat our brethren as valuable and important people? If Christians really "understood" that their brethren are part of God's inheritance, that God really wants these people saved, then congregations would never divide over opinion and personality differences. Attendance would not be a problem. God wants me saved and He has spared no expense ( Act_20:28 )! “Paul prays here that his readers may appreciate the value which God places upon them” (Bruce p. 271).
Eph_1:19 “and what the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to that working of the strength of His might”
“Exceeding greatness”: “How surpassing great” (Gspd). “How tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God” (Phi). “And how vast the resources of His power open to us who believe” (NEB). “To usward who believe”: To Christians. “According to that working of the strength of His might”: “As seen in the working of His infinite might” (Wey). ”As seen in the energy of that resistless might” (Mon). “The same mighty power” (TCNT).
Eph_1:20 “which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and made Him to sit at His right hand in the heavenly places”
“Which He wrought in Christ”: “Which He exerted in Christ” (NEB). “How much power was necessary to take Christ, crucified, mutilated, disgraced, dead, and to raise Him in newness of life, radiant, triumphant, glorious, and to place Him at the right hand of God on His throne in heaven? That same power is ours. This Paul would have us believe, and act upon the belief” (Erdman p. 45). “What God has done in the Lord Jesus exemplifies the ability of God to accomplish the powerful acts necessary to fulfill His promises to man” (Caldwell p. 57). From this statement certain conclusions are demanded: In like manner God will fulfill every promise to us. Nothing can stop God from giving us eternal life , except us ( 2Ti_2:11-13 ). The same power that raised Christ, will raise us ( Php_3:21 ). “When we know the excessive greatness of this power, nothing will ever disturb our hope. Other men also hope; alas, their hopes are built on air, there is no power to fulfill their hopes , to bestow that for which they hope” (Lenski p. 397). “That is the act above all others and beyond all others that shows the unlimited power and ability of God to do all that He has promised to do for His children” (Coffman p. 134).
Yet how often do Christians act like they have absolutely no help from God? The Bible says that no temptation that will ever come our way, that is greater than our powers of endurance ( 1Co_10:13 ). Do we believe that God is powerful enough to keep this promise? The Bible also instructs Christians to add various qualities to their lives ( Gal_5:22-23 ). Do we believe that such is possible? On a daily basis we see people reaping what they have sown ( Gal_6:7 ). We see the truth demonstrated that true happiness cannot be found apart from God ( Tit_3:3 ). We see people selfishly grasping for life who are only failing to find it ( Mat_16:25 ). We see people gaining much, but in the end having nothing of real value ( Mat_16:26 ). Everyday we see the fulfillment and truthfulness of what God has said in the Scriptures!
“And made Him to set at His right hand”: The fulfillment of Psa_110:1 . The place and position of highest honor. “The Father's throne has also become Christ's throne ( Rev_3:21 ). It is the throne of God and of the Lamb ( Rev_22:1 ; Rev_22:3 )” (Spiritual Sword Lectureship p. 21). “That is, He promoted Him to the place of supreme honor and executive authority” (Stott p. 59). Premillennialism has a serious problem with this statement. According to Paul and Peter ( Act_2:34-35 ), following the resurrection Jesus ascended to the right hand of God, the fulfillment of Psa_110:1 . This Psalm specifically has Jesus ruling while He has enemies Psa_110:2 "Rule in the midst of Thine enemies". Yet Premillennialism claims that Jesus will not rule until His enemies have been completely defeated. Premillennialism has Jesus reigning during an Utopian period, but the Bible has Jesus reigning until the enemies are totally defeated ( Psa_110:1 ). In addition Psa_110:1-4 has Jesus being priest while He is reigning as King. If Jesus is not reigning now, then He is not a priest now, and if He is not a priest now, then currently no man can find favor with God ( Heb_4:14-16 ).
Eph_1:21 “far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come”
“Far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion”: “Infinitely superior to any conceivable command” (Phi) ( Mat_28:18 ). “Various designations of authority are piled up to emphasize the supremacy of Christ. Whatever grades of authority there may be in the universe, they are all inferior to Him” (Bruce p. 273). “And every name that is named”: “And every title that can be given” (NIV). “And any title of sovereignty that can be named” (NEB) ( Col_1:16 ; 1Pe_3:22 ; Php_2:9 ). “Let any name be uttered, whatever it is, Christ is above it” (Vincent p. 373). Christ is far above His critics! Christ will judge us and not some theologian who does not believe the Bible is inspired of God ( 2Co_5:10 ; Act_17:30-31 ). Jesus has the final say and He is the final court of appeal. His word is law and absolutely nothing can change that ( Joh_12:48 ). “Not only in this world, but also in that which is to come”: “Whether in the present age, or in the age to come” (TCNT). Even though Christ is exalted over all, everyone has not conceded this reality. Another problem presents the doctrine of Premillennialism in this verse. The Premillennialists claim that Christ is not "King in fact", at the present time. Yet Paul declares that whatever authority Christ was given at His ascension will not be surpassed even in the age to come, that is, even after the Second Coming. Christ cannot be exalted any higher than He already is. Read again Mat_28:18 . Like Paul, when we have the chance we need to remind the important people of this world, that along with us ordinary people they must also answer to God ( Act_24:25 ). Rev_20:12 “And I saw the dead, the great and small, standing before the throne”.
Eph_1:22 “and He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church”
“He put”: The Father. “All things in subjection under His feet”: Psa_110:1 . Only the Father is exempted from this subjection ( 1Co_15:27 ). “To be under the feet is to be in total subservience” (Caldwell p. 61). “Christ then exercises universal lordship” (Bruce p. 274). "All things" includes "all men". Jesus Himself said that His message was universal ( Mar_16:15 ) and that there is no other way to God besides Himself ( Joh_14:6 ; Act_4:12 ). The above statement is the fulfillment of Psa_8:6 . In Jesus Christ, mankind gains what they lost at the fall ( Heb_2:6-10 ). In Jesus Christ we have the upper hand over everything in this life, including ourselves, temptation and even physical death. Carefully note that God intended that mankind have the dominion in this physical world ( Gen_1:27-28 ). “And gave him”: Jesus as the head of the church is God’s gift to the church. “Head over all things”: Note carefully the expression "all things". This expression leaves no room for human heads or headquarters. In the New Testament the only universal head the Church had was Christ. In addition, besides Christ, the only "leadership" (in the absence of the apostles), that each congregation had was its own elders ( 1Pe_5:1-3 ). The feminist movement that has entered the religious realm has tried to argue that the word "head", simply means "source", that is that man is the source of the woman, and that this word does not have any connotation of authority and corresponding subjection. Clearly such an interpretation is erroneous. In both contexts which talk about "headship", whether it is Christ's "headship" of the church, or man's "headship" over his wife, subjection is also found in the same context (1:21-22; 5:22,24,33). In addition, if the husband has absolutely no authority, then neither does Christ. (5:24 )
“Both universe and church have in Jesus Christ the same head” (Stott p. 61). This passage reveals something about the "true Church". The true church is the church that recognizes Christ as its head. The true church is the church that is in subjection to Christ in everything (5:24).
Eph_1:23 “which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all”
“Which is”: The church just mentioned is the body of Christ. “His body”: The church and the body of Christ are the same relationship. Since one is said to be baptized into "one" body ( 1Co_12:13 ), this means that baptism stands between one and being a member of Christ's church ( Act_2:38 ; Act_2:41 ; Act_2:47 ). There is only "one" body (4:4). This "one" body is not composed of differing denominations, but faithful individual Christians ( 1Co_12:27 ). Only those baptized for remission of sins are in this one body. In addition, the "one body" is composed only of those Christians who are in subjection to Christ. There is only one Church that God recognizes as belonging to Christ. ( Mat_16:18 ). Churches that do not teach that baptism stands between the believer and salvation ( Act_22:16 ; 1Pe_3:21 ), are not Christ's church. Churches that do not follow the teachings of Christ, are not Christ's church ( 2Jn_1:9 ).
“The fullness”: A number of interpretations for this statement exist, but in the end, this statement should not be that hard to understand. The phrase "fulness of Him", refers back to the last mentioned object, the church or body of Christ. Hence the church is filled completely and totally by Christ. Some view this as saying that “He imparts to it, as His body, all its life, its strength, its grace, its gifts” (Erdman p. 47). Paul had already noted that all spiritual blessings are in Christ ( Eph_1:3 ), and being in Christ and being in the body of Christ are the same thing. Thus, every blessing, and all that God can mean to us is only found in the church. Jesus is the fullness of God ( Col_2:9 ), which means that everything that makes God, “God”, is found in Jesus. In like manner, the church is the fullness of Christ, everything that Christ can mean to a human being is found in the church.