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Bible Commentaries

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Ephesians 3


Ephesians 3:3 . ἐγνωρίσθη ] Elz. Matth. Reiche have ἐγνώρισε , in opposition to decisive testimony. A more precisely defining gloss.

Ephesians 3:5 . Before ἑτέραις Elz. has, likewise against decisive testimony, ἐν , which was attached on account of the double dative.

Ephesians 3:6 . αὐτοῦ ] after ἐπαγγ . is, with Lachm. and Tisch., upon preponderating evidence, to be deleted.

Ephesians 3:7 . ἐγενόμην ] Lachm. Tisch. Rück, read ἐγενήθην , after A B D * F G א . With this preponderant attestation the more to be preferred, in proportion to the ease with which the more current form might involuntarily creep in.

τὴν δοθεῖσαν ] Lachm. and Rück.: τῆς δοθείσης , approved also by Griesb. Attested, it is true, by A B C D * F G א , min. Copt. Vulg. It Latin Fathers; but how readily would the genitive present itself to the mechanical copyist after Ephesians 3:2 ! comp. Ephesians 3:8 .

Ephesians 3:8 . ἐν τοῖς ] A B C א , min. Copt. have merely τοῖς . So Lachm. and Rückert. Strongly enough attested; specially as the parallel in subject-matter, Galatians 1:16 , offered ἐν as an addition.

The neuter τὸ πλοῦτος is also here and at Ephesians 3:16 preponderantly attested.

Ephesians 3:9 . πάντας ] suspected by Beza, placed within brackets by Lachm. But it is wanting only in A א , two min. Cyr. Hilar. Jer. Aug. The omission, at any rate too feebly attested, may have been accidental, or even after ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν intentional.

οἰκονομία ] Elz. has κοινωνία , in opposition to almost all the witnesses. An interpretation.

After κτίσαντι Elz. has διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ , which is defended, it is true, by Rinck (in whose view Marcion had deleted it) and by Reiche (who holds it to have been omitted by the orthodox), but is condemned by the decisive counter-testimony as an exegetico-dogmatic addition.

Ephesians 3:12 . τὴν παῤῥησίαν κ . τὴν προσαγωγήν ] The second τήν is wanting in A B א * 17, 80, Lachm. Rück.; but its superfluousness occasioned the omission. F G have τὴν προσαγωγὴν εἰς τὴν παῤῥησίαν , a change produced by the absolute τὴν προσαγ .

Ephesians 3:14 . τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησού Χ . is wanting in A B C א 17, 67 ** Copt. Aeth. Erp. Vulg. ms. and important Fathers. Deleted by Lachm. Tisch. Rück. Harless. An addition to πατέρα readily offering itself, although defended by Reiche (on insufficient internal grounds).

Ephesians 3:16 . δῴη ] A B C F G א , 37, 39, 116, and several Fathers have δῷ . So Lachm. and Rück. With this important attestation δῷ is here the more to he preferred, as δῴη offered itself to the copyists from Ephesians 1:17 .

Ephesians 3:18 . βάθος κ . ὕψος ] Lachm. reads ὕψος κ . βάθος , on considerable but not decisive evidence. But the sequence of thought, “height and depth,” was more familiar. Comp. Romans 8:39 .

Ephesians 3:21 . ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ] So D ** K L, min. Syr. utr. Goth. Chrys. and other Greeks. But A B C א 73, 80, 213, Copt. Arm. Slav. ms. Vulg. Jer. Pel. have ἐν τ . ἐκκλ . καὶ ἐν Χ . Ἰ . (so Lachm. and Rück.). D * F G, It. Ambrosiast. have ἐν Χ . Ἰ . καὶ τῇ ἐκκλ . Only 46 and Oros. have ἐν Χ . Ἰ . merely, without ἐν τῇ ἐκκλ ., evidence which is far too weak to justify suspicion of ἐν τῇ ἐκκλ . (in opposition to Koppe and Rück.). The καί , although strongly attested, is an old unsuitable connective addition; and the placing of ἐν τ . ἐκκλ . after ἐν Χ . Ἰ . is a transposition in accordance with the sense of rank. Hence, with Tisch. and Reiche, the Recepta is to be upheld.


On this account am I, Paul, the prisoner of God for the sake of you, the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:1 ). Effusion over the nature of his office as apostle of the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:2-12 ), which concludes with the entreaty to the readers not to become discouraged at the sufferings which he is enduring on their behalf (Ephesians 3:13 ). On this account he beseeches God that they might be inwardly strengthened in the Christian character, in order that they may know the whole greatness of the love of Christ, and thereby become filled with all divine gifts of grace (Ephesians 3:14-19 ). Doxology, Ephesians 3:20-21 .

Verse 1

Ephesians 3:1 . On this account , namely, in order that ye may be built unto the dwelling of God by means of the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22 ), on this behalf , that your Christian development may advance towards that goal, am I, Paul, the fettered one of Christ Jesus for the sake of you, the Gentiles . The position of Paul in fetters on account of his labours as the apostle of the Gentiles [164] could only exert a beneficial influence upon the development of the Christian life of his churches, as edifying and elevating for them (comp. Ephesians 3:13 ), as, on the other hand, it must have redounded as a scandal to them, if he had withdrawn from the persecutions (Galatians 6:12 ; 2 Corinthians 11:23 ff.; Philippians 2:17 f.). Hence the τούτου χάριν emphatically prefixed.

ἐγὼ Παῦλος ] in the consciousness of his personal authority (comp. 2 Corinthians 10:1 ; Galatians 5:2 ; 1 Thessalonians 2:18 ; Colossians 1:23 ; Philemon 1:9 ), which the bonds could not weaken, but only exalt (2 Corinthians 11:23 ff.).

δέσμιος τοῦ Ἰ . Χ .] The article denotes the bound one of Christ κατʼ ἐξοχήν , such as Paul could not but, in accordance with his special relation to Christ (Galatians 1:1 ; Galatians 6:17 ), appear to himself and others. The genitive expresses the author of the being bound. Comp. 2 Timothy 1:8 ; Philemon 1:9 . See Winer, p. 170 [E. T. 236]. Paul regards himself, in keeping with the consciousness of his entire dependence on Christ (as δοῦλος Χριστοῦ ), as the one whom Christ has put in chains .

As regards the construction , by many the simple εἰμί is rightly supplied after ὁ δέσμιος τοῦ Χρ . Ἰ . (Syriac, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Erasmus, Cajetanus, Beza, Elsner, Calovius, Wolf, Michaelis, Paraphr .; Moras, Koppe, Rosenmüller, and others), so that ὁ δέσμιος τοῦ Χ . Ἰ . is predicate , in connection with which some have neglected the article, others have rightly had regard to it (see especially Beza). He is, however, the δέσμιος of Christ on behalf of the Gentiles ; and this thought leads him in the sequel to explain himself more fully regarding his vocation as Apostle of the Gentiles, whereupon he only briefly returns to the point of his imprisonment in Ephesians 3:13 , after having been led away from it by the detailed exposition of the theme, to which he had been incited by the ὑπὲρ τῶν ἐθνῶν . Free movement of thought natural in a letter. Supplementary additions, such as legatione fungor (Ambrosiaster, Castalio, Calvin, Vatablus), or hoc scribo (Camerarius, and the like), [165] are not implied in the context, and are therefore erroneous. Others have regarded the discourse as broken off , and have found the resumption either at Ephesians 3:8 (Oecumenius, Grotius), or at Ephesians 3:13 (Zanchius, Cramer, Holzhausen), or at Ephesians 3:14 (Theodoret, Luther, Piscator, Calixtus, Cornelius a Lapide, Estius, Homberg, Schöttgen, Bengel, Baumgarten, and others, including Flatt, Lachmann, Rückert, Winer, Matthies, Harless, Olshausen, Bisping, Bleek; de Wette, characterizing this construction as “hardly Pauline”), or only at Ephesians 4:1 (Erasmus Schmid, Hammond, Michaelis in note to his translation). But all these hypotheses are inasmuch as, according to the above explanation, Ephesians 3:1 in itself yields with ease and linguistic correctness a complete and suitable sense unnecessary complications of the discourse. Baumgarten-Crusius regards the discourse as entirely broken off under the pressure of the crowding thoughts, so that it is not at all resumed in the sequel.

After Ephesians 3:1 only a comma is to be placed.

[164] “Quia gentes Judaeis adaequabat, incidit in suorum popularium odium,” Drusius. Comp. Grotius, Calovius.

[165] Already in early witnesses supplementary additions are met with in the text: πρεσβεύω in D * E 10, followed by Castalio and Calvin; postulo in Clar., Germ.; κεκαύχημαι in 71, 219, al.

Verse 2

Ephesians 3:2 . Confirmation of that which has just been said, ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν τῶν ἐθνῶν , by the recalling of what the readers have heard concerning his vocation. “ For you, the Gentiles ,” I say, upon the presupposition that , etc. This presupposition he expresses by εἴγε , i.e. turn certe si (Klotz, ad Devar. p. 308), it being implied in the connection (for of his church he could not presuppose anything else), not in the word itself, that he assumes this rightly . He might have written εἴπερ , if at all, provided that , or εἴπερ γε , provided namely (Xen. Mem. i. 4. 4, Anab. i. 7. 9; often in the tragedians), but he has conceived the presupposition under the form at least if, if namely , and so denotes it. Comp. on Galatians 3:4 and 2 Corinthians 5:3 ; wherever εἴγε is used and the assumption is a certain one (as also at Ephesians 4:21 ), the latter is to be gathered from the connection. From whom the readers had heard the matter in question, their own consciousness told them, namely, from Paul himself and other Pauline teachers, so that εἴγε ἠκούσατε κ . τ . λ . is a reminder of his preaching among them . Hence our passage is wrongly regarded as at variance with the superscription πρὸς Ἐφεσίους , and as pointing to readers to whom Paul was not personally known; whilst others , as Grotius (so also Rinck, Sendschr. der Korinth . p. 56, who, however, takes the correct view in the Stud. u. Krit. 1849, p. 954), have, without any ground in the context, assigned to the simple ἀκούειν the signification bene intelligere ; Calvin, on the other hand, had recourse to the altogether unnatural hypothesis: “Credibile est, quum ageret Ephesi, eum tacuisse de his rebus ;” and Böttger ( Beitr. iii. p. 46 ff.) refers it to the hearing of this Epistle read , against which the very ἀναγινώσκοντες that follows in Ephesians 3:3 is decisive. Estius very correctly states that εἴγε is not “ dubitantis, sed potius affirmantis ; neque enim ignorare quod hic dicitur poterant Ephesii, quibus P. ipse evang. plusquam biennio praedicaverat. ” [166] Paul might have expressed himself in the form of an assertion ( ἠκούσατε γάρ , or ἐπεὶ ἠκούσατε ), but the hypothetic form of expression constitutes a more delicate and suggestive way of recalling his preaching among them (as also the Attic writers, in place of ἐπεί γε , delicately use the hypothetic εἴγε ; see Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. i. 5. 1), without, however, containing an obliquam reprehensionem (Vitringa, comp. Holzhausen), of which the context affords no trace.

τὴν οἰκονομίαν τῆς χάριτος κ . τ . λ .] the arrangement (see on Ephesians 1:10 ) which has been made regarding the grace of God given to me with reference to you ( τῆς χάριτος is the genitive objecti ). The more precise explanation is then given by ὅτι κατὰ ἀποκάλυψιν κ . τ . λ . The χάρις is here, in accordance with the context ( τῆς δοθ . μοι εἰς ὑμᾶς ), the divine bestowal of grace that took place in the entrusting him with the apostolic office . Comp. on Romans 12:3 ; Romans 15:15 . Others , like Pelagius, Anselm, Erasmus, Grotius, Michaelis, Rosenmüller, et al. , have explained οἰκον . τ . χάρ . as the office of administering evangelic grace ; but against this it may be urged that not τῆς δοθείσης , but τὴν δοθεῖσαν , must have been afterwards used. This mistake is avoided by Wieseler, p. 446 f., where he takes it as: the office for which I have been qualified by the grace conferred upon me on your behalf. This office the readers had heard , inasmuch as they had heard the preaching of the apostle. But how are we to justify the expression “to hear the office ,” instead of “to hear the official preaching ”? The words would merely say: if ye have heard of the office, etc., Galatians 1:13 ; Colossians 1:4 ; Philemon 1:5 .

[166] De Wette dogmatically lays it down that the readers had no need, if the apostle had already exercised his apostolic calling among them, now first to learn from himself that he had received it. But in so speaking he has not attended to the fact that the object of the ἠκούσατε is not the reception of the apostolic vocation in general, but the mode of this reception (namely, κατὰ ἀποκάλυψιν , ver. 3). This account of the manner in which he had become their apostle he communicated to them when he was with them, and of this he reminds them now.

Verse 3

Ephesians 3:3 . In this more detailed specification of the οἰκονομία meant in Ephesians 3:2 , κατὰ ἀποκάλυψιν has the emphasis: by way of revelation , expressing the mode of the making known, in accordance with a well-known adverbial usage (Bernhardy, p. 241). In substance the διʼ ἀποκαλύψεως of Galatians 1:12 is not different. According to the history of the conversion in Acts 26:0 (not according to Acts 9:22 ), we have here to think not merely of the disclosures that followed the event near Damascus (as Galatians 1:12 ), but also of the revelation connected with this event itself; for the contents of what is revealed is here the blessing of the Gentiles , and with this comp. Acts 26:17-18 , as also Galatians 1:16 ; hence from κατὰ ἀποκάλ . we may not infer a post-apostolic time of composition (Schwegler).

ἐγνωρίσθη ] namely, on the part of God ; comp. Ephesians 3:2 ; Ephesians 3:5 .

τὸ μυστήριον ] see on Ephesians 1:9 ; it applies here, however, not to the counsel of redemption in general, but to the inclusion of the Gentiles in it. It is not until Ephesians 3:6 that the apostle comes to express this special contents which is here meant.

καθώς down to the end of Ephesians 3:4 , is not to be treated as a parenthesis, inasmuch as ὅ , Ephesians 3:5 , attaches itself to the ἐν τῷ μυστ . τ . Χ . immediately preceding.

καθὼς προέγραψα ἐν ὀλίγῳ ] as I before wrote in brief , refers not to κατὰ ἀποκάλυψιν , but to ἐγνωρ . μοι τὸ μυστήρ ., as is shown by Ephesians 3:4 , where Paul characterizes that which was before written as evidence of his knowledge of the mystery, but not as evidence of the revelation by which he has attained to this knowledge. Groundlessly, and at variance with the subsequent present ἀναγινώσκοντες , Calvin, Hunnius, and others have (although it was already rejected by Theodoret) referred προέγρ . to an epistle which has now been lost , in support of which view the passage in Ignatius ἐν πάσἐπιστολῇ (see Introd. § 1) has been made use of. See Fabric. Cod. Apoc . I. p. 916. It applies (not to Ephesians 1:9-10 , as many would have it, but), as is proved by the here meant special contents of the μυστήριον (Ephesians 3:6 ), to the section last treated of, concerning the Gentiles attaining unto the Messianic economy of salvation, Ephesians 2:11-22 . Comp. already Oecumenius.

ἐν ὀλίγῳ ] διὰ βραχέων , Chrysostom: ἐν is instrumental . [167] See Acts 26:28 . Comp. the classical διʼ ὀλίγων , Plat. Phil . p. 31 D, Legg. vi. p. 778 C, ἐν βραχεῖ and ἐν βραχέσι (Dem. 592, 8). The same is expressed by συντόμως , Acts 24:4 , summarily . Wetstein well puts it: “pauca tantum attigi, cum multa dici possent.” Following Theodoret, Beza (with hesitation), Calvin, Grotius, Estius, Erasmus, Schmid, Koppe, and others have taken it as a more precise definition of the πρό : paulo ante. But in a temporal sense ἐν ὀλίγῳ means nothing else than in a short time (see on Acts 26:28 ; comp. Plat. Apol . p. 22 B; Dem, xxxiii. 18; Pind. Pyth . viii. 131: ἐν δʼ ὀλίγῳ βροτῶν τὸ τερπνὸν αὔξεται ), which is not suitable here; πρὸ ὀλίγου must have been used (Acts 5:36 ; Act 21:38 ; 2 Corinthians 12:2 , al. ; Plat. Symp . p. 147 E, al. ). Comp. ὀλίγον τι πρότερον , Herod, iv. 81.

[167] Yet it may also be conceived of locally , as Thuc. iv. 26. 2; 96. 2 (see Krüger); in small space , in a concise passage.

Verse 4

Ephesians 3:4 . In accordance with which ye, while ye read it, are able to discern , etc. [168]

ΠΡῸς applies to that which Paul ΠΡΟΈΓΡΑΨΕ , and ΠΡΌς indicates the standard of the judging; in accordance with which . See Bernhardy, p. 205; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 652; Winer, p. 361 [E. T. 505]. The inference: οὐκ ἔγραψεν ὅσα ἐχρῆν , ἈΛΛʼ ὍΣΑ ἘΧΏΡΟΥΝ ΝΟΕῖΝ (Oecumenius, comp. Chrysostom; Bengel compares ex ungue leonem ), finds no justification at all in what Paul has previously written.

ἀναγινώσκοντες ] not attendentes (Calvin), but, as always in the N.T., legentes.

τὴν σύνεσίν μου ἐν τῷ μυστηρίῳ τοῦ Χ .] is to be taken together , and before ἐν it was not needful to repeat the article, because ΣΥΝΙΈΝΑΙ ἘΝ ( to have understanding in a matter ) was a very current expression (2 Chronicles 34:12 ; Joshua 1:7 ; Daniel 1:17 ). Comp. 3 Esdr. 1:33: τῆς συνέσεως αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ νόμῳ κυρίου . The genitive ΤΟῦ ΧΡΙΣΤΟῦ is ordinarily taken as genitivas objecti : the mystery which has reference to Christ . But, even apart from Colossians 1:27 , the whole subsequent detailed statement as far as Ephesians 3:12 suggests the contextually more exact view, according to which Paul means the μυστήριον contained in Christ . Christ Himself, His person and His whole work, especially His redeeming death, connecting also the Gentiles with the people of God (Ephesians 3:6 ), is the concretum of the Divine mystery.

The assailants of the genuineness of the Epistle find Ephesians 3:4 incompatible with the apostolic dignity (de Wette), nay, even “self-complacent and courting favour” (Schwegler). But here precisely the point brought into prominence, that the mystery had become known to him κατὰ ἀποκάλυψιν , justifies the stress laid upon his ΣΎΝΕΣΙς in the mystery, so far as he has already manifested the same in his Epistle. The apostle might have appealed in proof of this ΣΎΝΕΣΙς to his working , but he might also especially taking into account the change which had meanwhile occurred in the personal composition of the church adduce for this purpose his writing , in doing which his very apostolic dignity raised him above considerations of the semblance of self-complacency and the like. Hardly would another, who had merely assumed the name of the apostle Paul, have put into his mouth such a self-display of his σύνεσις which, in order not to fall out of his assumed apostolic part, he would rather have avoided.

As to ΣΎΝΕΣΙς , see on Colossians 1:9 .

[168] Wiggers ( Stud. u. Krit. 1841, p. 433) regards as subject the Ephesians, not as such, but as representatives of the Gentile world: “ ye Gentiles .” Arbitrarily imported, and entirely unnecessary. Doubtless the σύνεσις of the Ap. ἐν τῷ μυστηρίῳ τοῦ Χ . must have been entirely beyond doubt for the readers in consequence of their personal connection with him; but thereby his appeal to what he has just written does not become inappropriate, but only the more forcible and effective. There lies a certain μείωσις in this reference to that which he has just written.

Verse 5

Ephesians 3:5 . Not an explanation, to what extent he was speaking of a mystery (Rückert, Meier): for that the readers knew , and the design of bringing in a mere explanation would not be in keeping with the elevated solemn style of the whole verse; but a triumphant outburst of the conscious exalted happiness of belonging to the number of those who had received the revelation of the mystery an outburst, which was very naturally called forth by the sublime contents of the μυστήριον .

ἑτέραις γενεαῖς ] may be either a definition of time , like the dative at Ephesians 2:12 (so taken usually ); in that case γενεαῖς is not periodis or temporibus in general, but: in other generations (comp. on Ephesians 3:21 ); or it may express the simple dative relation , so that γενεαῖς is generationibus (Vulgate): which to other generations was not made known , according to which τοῖς υἱοῖς τῶν ἀνθρ . would form a characteristic epexegesis (Lobeck, ad Aj. 308; Bernhardy, p. 55; Nägelsbach, Anm. z. Ilias , Exodus 3:0 , pp. 272, 307). This was my previous view. Yet the former explanation, as being likewise linguistically correct, and withal more simple and more immediately in keeping with the contrast νῦν , is to be preferred. The ἕτεραι γεν . are the generations which have preceded the νῦν ; and τοῖς υἱοῖς τῶν ἀνθρ . (not elsewhere occurring with Paul) has the significance, that it characterizes men according to their lower sphere conditioned by their “ortum naturalem” (Bengel), under which they were incapable in themselves of understanding the μυστήριον . Comp. Genesis 11:5 ; Psalms 8:5 ; Psalms 11:5 ; Wis 9:6 . That specially the O. T. prophets are meant by τοῖς υἱοῖς τῶν ἀνθρώπ ., as Bengel supposed, [169] is wrongly inferred from τοῖς ἁγίοις ἀποστόλοις κ . τ . λ ., since the contrast does not lie in the persons , [170] but in the time ( ἑτέραις γενεαῖςνῦν ). It is true Ezekiel often bears the name בֶּן־אָדָם (Ezekiel 7:1 ; Ezekiel 12:1 , al. ), not, however, as prophet , but as man ; and thereby likewise his human lowliness and dependence upon God are brought home to him.

Ὡς ] By this expression, which (in opposition to Bleek) is to be left as comparative , the disclosure made to Abraham and the ancient prophets of the future participation of the Gentiles in Messiah’s kingdom (Galatians 3:8 ; Romans 9:24-26 ; Romans 15:9 ff.) remains undisputed; for “fuit illis hoc mysterium quasi procul et cum involucris ostensum,” Beza; hence the prophetic prediction served only as means for the making known of the later complete revelation of the mystery (Romans 16:26 ).

ΝῦΝ ] in the Christian period. Comp. 1 Peter 1:12 .

ἈΠΕΚΑΛΎΦΘΗ ] not a repetition of ἘΓΝΩΡΊΣΘΗ , but the distinguishing mode in which this manifestation took place, is intended to be expressed: ΚΑΤᾺ ἈΠΟΚΆΛΥΨΙΝ ἘΓΝΩΡΊΣΘΗ , Ephesians 3:3 .

ΤΟῖς ἉΓΊΟΙς ἈΠΟΣΤ . Κ . Τ . Λ . ] is not to be divided by a comma after ἉΓΊΟΙς (Lachmann, Bisping), so that ἈΠΟΣΤ . ΑὐΤ . Κ . ΠΡΟΦ . would be apposition or more precise definition, whereby the flow of the expression would be only needlessly interrupted. The predicate holy was already borne by the Old Testament prophets (2 Kings 4:9 ; Luke 1:70 ; 2 Peter 1:21 ), and this appellation at our passage by no means exposes the apostolic origin of the Epistle to suspicion (de Wette derives ἁγίοις from the passage Colossians 1:26 recast in post-apostolic times; Baur: from the post-apostolic reverential looking back to the apostles); but it is very naturally called forth by the context, in order to distinguish the recipients of the revelation amidst the mass of the υἱοὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων , in accordance with the connection, as God’s special messengers and instruments, as ἅγιοι Θεοῦ ἄνθρωποι (2 Peter 1:21 ); whereupon the apostolic consciousness in Paul was great and decided enough not to suppress the predicate suggested by the connection, [171] while he is speaking of the apostles and prophets in general , whereas, immediately afterwards, at Ephesians 3:8 , in speaking of himself in particular, he gives full play to his individual deep humility. How can we conceive that the author should thus in one breath have fallen out of his assumed part at Ephesians 3:5 with τοῖς ἁγίοις , by a “slip” (Baur), and then have resumed it at Ephesians 3:8 with ἐμοὶ τῷ ἐλαχιστοτέρῳ !

αὐτοῦ ] not of Christ (Bleek), but of God , whose action is implied in ἐγνωρίσθη and ἀπεκαλύφθη .

καὶ προφήταις ] quite as at Ephesians 2:20 .

ἐν πνεύματι ] The Holy Spirit is the divine principle, through which the ἀπεκαλύφθη took place. Comp. Ephesians 1:17 ; 1 Corinthians 2:10 ff. Rückert wrongly takes it as: in an inspired state , which πνεῦμα never means, but, on the contrary, even without the article is the objective Holy Spirit. Comp. on Ephesians 2:22 . Koppe and Holzhausen connect ἐν πνεύματι ( sc . οὖσι ) with προφήταις . In this way it would be an exceedingly superfluous addition, since prophets, who should not be ἐν πν ., are inconceivable, whereas a revelation was conceivable even otherwise than through the Spirit (by means of theophany, angel, vision, ecstasy, etc.). Meier connects ἐν πν . even with ἁγίοις , so that the sense would be: in sacred enthusiasm! and Ambrosiaster (comp. Erasmus) with the following εἶναι κ . τ . λ . Baur, p. 440, knows how to explain ἐν πνεύματι from a Montanistic view, and thinks that it is only on account of the prophets that it is applied to the apostles also.

[169] In quite an opposite way Jerome would exclude the ancient patriarchs and prophets from the υἱοῖς τῶν ἀνθρ .; for these were rather sons of God!

[170] The ἀπόστολοι and προφῆται were also υἱοὶ τῶν ἀνθρ ., but a sacred ἐκλογή of the same.

[171] A side-glance at the Jews, who would have seen a blasphemy in the apostolic message of the joint-heirship of the Gentiles (Lange, Apostol. Zeitalt. I. p. 128), is utterly remote from the connection.

Verse 6

Ephesians 3:6 . Epexegetical infinitive, more precisely specifying the contents of the μυστήριον : that the Gentiles are fellow-heirs , etc. This εἶναι (which is not to be changed into should be ) is objectively contained in the redeeming work of Christ, and the subjective appropriation takes place by the conversion of the individuals.

συγκληρονόμα ] denotes the joint possession (with the believing Jews) of eternal Messianic bliss, a possession now indeed still ideal (Romans 8:24 ), but to be really accomplished at the setting up of the kingdom. See on Ephesians 1:11 ; Ephesians 1:14 , Ephesians 5:5 ; Acts 20:32 ; Romans 8:17 ; Galatians 3:28 .

σύσσωμα καὶ συμμέτοχα κ . τ . λ .] That which is already sufficiently designated by συγκληρ . is yet again twice expressed, once figuratively and the next time literally; [172] in which no climax is to be found (Jerome, Pelagius, Zanchius, Schenkel), but the great importance of the matter has led the apostle, deeply impressed by it, to accumulated description. [173] σύσσωμα denotes belonging jointly to the body ( i.e. as members to the Messianic community, whose head is Christ, Ephesians 1:23 , Ephesians 2:16 ). The word does not occur elsewhere, except in the Fathers (see Suicer, Thes . II. p. 1191), and was perhaps formed by Paul himself. Comp. however, συσσωματοποιεῖν , Arist. de mundo , iv. 30. συμμέτοχος , too, occurs only here and Ephesians 5:7 , and besides, in Josephus, Bell . i. 24. 6, and the Fathers. Comp. συμμετέχω , 2Ma 5:20 ; Xen. Anab. vii. 8. 17; Plat. Theaet . p. 181 C. The ἐπαγγελία is the promise of the Messianic blessedness , which God has given in the O. T., comp. Ephesians 2:12 . He, however, who has joint share in the promise is he to whom it jointly relates, in order to be jointly realized in his case; hence ἡ ἐπαγγελία is not to be interpreted as res promissa , which several (Menochius, Grotius, Bengel; comp. Estius) have referred to the Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:14 ; Hebrews 6:4 ; Acts 2:39 ), but at variance with the context ( συγκληρ .). The thrice occurring συν has the πρῶτον of the Jews (Acts 3:26 ; Romans 1:16 ) as its presupposition. [174]

ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ ] dependent on εἶναι , applies to all three elements, as does also the following διὰ τοῦ εὐαγγ . In Christ , as the Reconciler, the συγκληρονομία κ . τ . λ . of the Gentiles is objectively founded; and through the gospel , which is proclaimed to them, the subjective appropriation in the way of faith is brought about. The annexing, with Vatablus, Koppe, and Holzhausen, ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ to τῆς ἐπαγγ ., is not to be approved, just because the reader, as he needed no more precise definition in connection with συγκληρ . and σύσσωμα , understood also of himself what ἐπαγγελία was meant, and the absolute τῆς ἐπαγγ . (see the critical remarks) is more emphatic.

[172] Harless thinks, the one time after the analogy of persons , and the other time after the analogy of things . But as well in σύσσωμα as in συμμέτ . the relation of persons and of things is combined .

[173] On the accumulation of synonymous expressions in earnest emotional discourse, comp. Düntzer, Aristarch . p. 41.

[174] But the thought that the substantial contents of the gospel are identical with Judaism (Baur, Neutest. Theol . p. 276) is incorrectly imported. See, in opposition to it, especially Ephesians 2:15 .

Verse 7

Ephesians 3:7 . Διάκονος ] Comp. Col 1:23 ; 2 Corinthians 3:6 ; also Luke 1:2 . Paul became a servant of the gospel when he was enjoined by God through Christ (Galatians 1:1 ; Galatians 1:15 ff.; Acts 9:22 ; Acts 9:26 ) to devote his activity to the proclamation of the gospel. The distinction from ὑπηρέτης (used by Paul only at 1 Corinthians 4:1 ) is not, as Harless supposes, that διάκονος denotes the servant in his activity for the service , while ὑπηρέτης denotes him in his activity for the Master (see, in opposition to this, 1 Corinthians 12:3 ; Romans 13:4 ; 2 Corinthians 6:3 ; Colossians 1:7 ; Colossians 4:6 ); but both words indicate without distinction of reference the relation of service, and the difference lies only in this, that the two designations, in accordance with their etymology, are originally borrowed from different concrete relations of service ( διάκ ., runner ; ὑπηρ ., rower ; see the Lexicons, and on διάκονος , Buttm. Lexil . I. p. 218 ff.); in the usage, however, of the N.T., both words have retained merely the general notion of servant , as very frequently also with Greek writers. In opposition to Harless it may be also urged that not only is the expression διακονεῖν τινί τι used, but also in like manner ὑπηρετεῖν τινί τι (Xen. Anal , vii. 7. 46, Cyr. i. 6. 39; Soph. Phil . 1012). The gift , which was conferred upon Paul by the divine grace , and in consequence of which he became a servant of the gospel, is, agreeably to the context, the apostolic office (comp. Ephesians 3:2 ; Ephesians 3:8 ), not the donum linguarum (Grotius), nor yet the gift of the Holy Spirit (Flatt, after older expositors).

κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργ . τ . δυν . αὐτοῦ ] belongs to τὴν δοθεῖσάν μοι . To the efficacious action of the power of God (comp. Ephesians 3:20 , and on Ephesians 1:19 ) the bestowal of the gift of grace leads back the mind of the apostle, in the consciousness of what he had been before, Galatians 1:13 ff. “Haec est potentiae ejus efficacia, ex nihilo grands aliquid efficere,” Calvin. By the bestowal, in fact, of that gift of the divine grace Saul had become changed into Paul; hence κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργ . τ . δυν . αὐτοῦ .

Verse 8

Ephesians 3:8 . The apostle now explains himself more fully on what had been said in Ephesians 3:7 , and that entirely from the standpoint of the humility , with which, in the deep feeling of his personal unworthiness, he looked forth upon the greatness and glory of his vocation. Comp. 1 Corinthians 15:9 .

After Ephesians 3:7 a full stop is to be placed, and τοῖς ἔθνεσιν εὐαγγ . is the explanation of the χάρις αὕτη . Harless regards ἐμοὶαὕτη as a parenthetic exclamation, like Ephesians 2:6 , and τοῖς ἔθν . εὐαγγ . as a more precise definition of what is meant by δωρεά . He finds it contrary to nature to meet in the long intercalation (Ephesians 3:2-13 ) a halting-point, and yet not a return to the main subject. But in opposition to the whole view of such an intercalation, see on Ephesians 3:1 . And hardly could it occur to a reader not to connect εὐαγγελίσασθαι with the immediately preceding ἡ χάρις αὕτη , specially when τῷ ἐλαχιστοτέρῳ κ . τ . λ . points to the contrast of the greatness of the vocation, which very greatness is depicted, and in how truly grand a style! from τοῖς ἔθνεσιν forward.

On the forms of degree constructed from the superlative (or even the comparative, as 3 John 1:4 ), see Sturz, ad Maitt. p. 44; Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 135 f.; Winer, p. 65 [E. T. 81]. In the analysis the comparative sense is to be maintained (the least, lesser than all).

The expression of humility πάντων ἁγίων , [175] i.e. than all Christians , is even far stronger than 1 Corinthians 15:9 . Οὐκ εἶπε τῶν ἀποστόλων , Chrysostom. What was the ground of this self-abasement (which, indeed, Baur, p. 447, enumerates among the “heightening imitations”) the reader knew , without the necessity for Paul writing it to him, namely, not the consciousness of sin in general (Harless), in which respect Paul knew that he stood on the same level with any other (Romans 3:22 ; Romans 11:32 ; Galatians 3:22 ), as with every believer upon an equal footing of redemption by the death of Christ (Galatians 3:13-14 ; Romans 7:25 ; Romans 8:2 ), but the deeply humbling consciousness of having persecuted Christ , which, inextinguishable in him, so often accompanied his recalling of the grace of the apostolic office vouchsafed to him (1 Corinthians 15:9 ; Philippians 3:6 ; comp. 1 Timothy 1:13 ).

τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ] Paul was apostle of the Gentiles .

τὸ ἀνεξιχν . πλοῦτος τοῦ Χριστοῦ ] By this is meant the whole divine fulness of salvation , of which Christ is the possessor and bestower, and which is of such a nature that the human intellect cannot explore it so as to form an adequate conception of it. This does not hinder the proclamation, which, on the contrary, is rendered possible by revelation, but imposes on the cognition (1 Corinthians 13:9-12 ) as on the proclamation their limits. As to ἀνεξιχν ., see on Romans 11:33 .

[175] The readings ἀνθρώπων in 4 and Chrys., ἀποστόλων in Archel., and ἁγίων ἀποστόλων in 46, are attempts at interpretation, of which ἀνθρώπων was meant to guard against understanding the ἅγιοι of the angels; ἁγίων is wanting only in Marcion and 72 * , and Semler ought not to have looked upon it as spurious.

Verse 9

Ephesians 3:9 . Καὶ φωτίσαι πάντας ] According to Harless, who is followed by Olshausen, Paul makes a transition to all men : “not, however, to the Gentiles alone, but to all .” Wrongly, since Paul must have written καὶ πάντας φωτίσαι , as he had before prefixed τοῖς ἔθνεσιν . πάντας applies to all Gentiles , and the progress of the discourse has regard not to the persons, but to a particular main point ( καί , and in particular), upon which Paul in his proclamation of the riches of Christ gives information to all Gentiles.

φωτίσαι ] collustrare , of the enlightenment of the mind (John 1:9 ), which is here to be conceived of as brought about by means of the preaching . Comp. Hebrews 6:4 (and Bleek, ad loc. ), Hebrews 10:32 ; Psalms 119:130 ; Sir 45:17 . Docere (Grotius, Bengel, Rosenmüller, and others) hits doubtless the real sense, but unwarrantably abandons the figure . The possible difficulty that Christ Himself is in fact the light (John 1:9 ; John 12:35 ) disappears on considering that the apostles are mediately the enlightened ones (2 Corinthians 4:4 ; Matthew 5:14 ), the proclaimers and bearers (Acts 26:18 ) of the divine light and its moral powers (v. 8).

τίςοἰκονομία κ . τ . λ .] i.e. what is the arrangement, which is made with regard to the mystery , etc. As to οἰκονομία , see on Ephesians 1:10 , Ephesians 3:2 ; the mystery is that indicated as to its contents in Ephesians 3:6 ; and what has been adjusted or arranged with regard thereto ( ἡ οἰκονομία τοῦ μυστηρίου ), consists in the fact that this mystery, hidden in God from the very first, was to be made known in the present time through the church to the heavenly powers. See what follows.

ἀποκεκρυμ .] σεσιγημένου , Romans 16:25 . Comp. 1 Corinthians 2:7 ; Colossians 1:26 .

ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων ] from the world-periods , since they have begun to run their course, from the very beginning . The mystery, namely, was decreed already πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων , 1 Corinthians 2:7 , comp. Ephesians 1:4 , but is conceived of as hidden only since the beginning of the ages, because there was no one previously for whom it could be hidden. The same thing with ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων here is denoted at Romans 16:25 by the popular expression χρόνοις αἰωνίοις . We may add that ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων occurs in the N.T. only here and Colossians 1:26 ; elsewhere is found the expression current also in Greek authors, ἀπʼ αἰῶνος (Luke 1:70 ; Acts 3:21 ), and ἐκ τοῦ αἰῶνος (John 9:32 ).

τῷ τὰ πάντα κτίσαντι ] quippe qui omnia [176] creavit. Herein lies and this is the significant bearing of this more precise designation of God a confirmation of what has just been said, τοῦ ἀποκεκρυμ . ἀπὸ τῶν αἰών . ἐν τῷ Θεῷ . Bengel aptly observes: “rerum omnium creatio fundamentum est omnis reliquae oeconomiae, pro potestate Dei universali liberrime dispensatae.” He who has created all that exists must already have had implicitly contained in His creative plan the great unfolding of the world, which forms the contents of this mystery, so that thus the latter was ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων hidden in God. Comp. on ΠΟΙῶΝ ΤΑῦΤΑ ΓΝΩΣΤᾺ ἈΠʼ ΑἸῶΝΟς , Acts 15:18 , and as to the idea which underlies our passage also, that already the creative word contemplated Christ as its aim, [177] Colossians 1:16 ff., and the commentary thereon. Rückert thinks that Paul wishes to indicate how far it may not surprise us that He, from whom all things are derived, should have concealed a part of His all-embracing plan, in order to bring it to light only at the due time. But, apart from the fact that the creation of all things does not at all involve as a logical inference the concealment of a part of the divine plan, it was not the ἀποκεκρυμ . in itself that needed a ground assigned for it, since in fact this predicate is necessarily implied in the notion of μυστήριον , but the ἈΠΟΚΕΚΡ . ἈΠῸ ΤῶΝ ΑἸΏΝΩΝ . This ἈΠῸ ΤῶΝ ΑἸΏΝΩΝ is the terminus a quo , which was introduced with the κτίσις τῶν πάντων . At variance with the context, Olshausen holds that Paul wished to call attention to the fact that the establishment of redemption itself [of which the apostle in fact is not speaking] is a creative act of God, which could have proceeded only from Him who created all things. Harless places Τῷ ΤᾺ ΠΆΝΤΑ ΚΤΊΣ . in connection with ἽΝΑ Κ . Τ . Λ . , Ephesians 3:10 . But see on Ephesians 3:10 .

[176] The totality of that which exists, the whole world. Every limitation of this universal meaning is unwarranted, as when Beza, Piscator, Flatt, and others refer it to mankind . “Unus Deus omnes populos condidit, sic etiam nunc omnes ad se vocat,” Beza. Holzhausen, too, arbitrarily limits it to all spiritual beings, called to everlasting life; while Matthies mixes up also in κτίσαντι the effecting of the spiritual blessedness .

[177] Hence εἰς Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν would have been a more correct gloss than διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χρ ., which the Recepta has.


When διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ is recognised as not genuine (see the critical remarks), the possibility is taken away of referring κτίσαντι to the moral creation by Christ , as is done by Calvin, Zanchius, Calixtus, Grotius, Crell, Locke, Semler, Morus, Koppe, Usteri, Meier, Baumgarten-Crusius, and others. But even if those words were genuine, the formal and absolute κτίζειν , as well as the emphatically prefixed and unlimited τὰ πάντα , would justify only the reference to the physical creation, Genesis 1:0 . Comp. Calovius and Reiche.

Verse 10

Ephesians 3:10 . Ἵνα ] not ecbatic (Thomas, Boyd, Zanchius, Estius, Koppe, Rosenmüller, Flatt, Meier, Holzhausen), introduces the design , not, however, of τῷ τὰ πάντα κτίσαντι , as, in addition to those who understand κτίσ . of the ethical creation, also Harless would take it. [178] The latter sees in Τῷ ΤᾺ ΠΆΝΤΑ ΚΤΊΣΑΝΤΙ ἽΝΑ Κ . Τ . Λ . an explanation “how the plan of redemption had been from all ages hidden in God; inasmuch as it was He who created the world, in order to reveal in the church of Christ the manifoldness of His wisdom .” But the very doctrine itself, that the design of God in the creation of the world was directed to the making known of His wisdom to the angels , and by means of the Christian church , has nowhere an analogy in the N.T.; according to Colossians 1:16 , Christ (the personal Christ Himself) is the aim of the creation of all things, even of the angels , who are here included in τὰ πάντα . But as ΓΝΩΡΙΣΘῇ evidently corresponds to the ἈΠΟΚΕΚΡΥΜΜΈΝΟΥ , and ΝῦΝ to the ἈΠῸ ΤῶΝ ΑἸΏΝΩΝ , we cannot, without arbitrary disturbance of the whole arrangement of this majestic passage, regard ἽΝΑ ΓΝΩΡΙΣΘῇ as other than the design of τοῦ ἀποκεκρ . ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων ἐν τῷ Θεῷ . This statement of aim stands in exact significant relation to the vocation of the apostle, Ephesians 3:8 f., through which this very making known to the heavenly powers was partly effected. The less is there reason for taking ἵνα γνωρ . κ . τ . λ ., with de Wette (on Ephesians 3:11 ) and Hofmann, Schriftbew . I. p. 361 (who are followed by Schenkel), after earlier expositors, as defining the aim of the preaching of Paul , Ephesians 3:8 f.; in which case, besides, it would be offensive that Paul should ascribe specially to his work in preaching as its destined aim that, in which the other apostles withal (comp. in particular Acts 15:7 ), and the many preachers to the Gentiles of that time (such as Barnabas), had a share. The joining on to the adjectival element ἀποκεκρ . κ . τ . λ . produces no syntactical incongruity, but is as much in keeping with the carrying forward of the discourse by way of chain in our Epistle, as in accord with the reference of so significant a bearing to Ephesians 3:8 f.

ΓΝΩΡΙΣΘῇ ΝῦΝ ] The emphasis is not upon ΝῦΝ (Rückert and others), but upon ΓΝΩΡΙΣΘῇ , in keeping with the ἈΠΟΚΕΚΡ .: in order that it should not remain hidden, but should be made known , etc.

ταῖς ἀρχαῖς κ . τ . ἐξουσίαις ] See on Ephesians 1:21 . The angelic powers are to recognise in the case of the Christian church the wisdom of God; what a church- glorifying design, out of which God kept the μυστήριον from the beginning locked up in Himself! To the heavenly powers (comp. 1 Peter 1:12 ), which therefore are certainly not thought of as abstractions, the earthly institute is to show the wisdom of God; an even , however, is quite arbitrarily inserted before ταῖς ἀρχ . (Grotius, Meier). The explanation of the diabolic powers (Ambrosiaster, Vatablus, not Estius), which Vorstius, Bengel, Olshausen, Hofmann, Bleek at least understand as included , is entirely foreign to the context (it is otherwise at Ephesians 6:12 ), even though ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις (comp. Ephesians 1:3 ; Ephesians 1:20 ) were not added. Throughout the whole connection the contrast of earth and heaven prevails. Wrongly, too, we may add, secular rulers (Zeger, Knatchbull), Jewish archons (Schöttgen, Locke), heathen priests (van Til), and Christian church-overseers (Zorn), have been understood as here referred to (comp. Ephesians 1:21 ); while Koppe would embrace “quicquid est vi, sapientia, dignitate insigne,” and would only not exclude the angels on account of ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρ .

ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρ . is, as always in our Epistle (see on Ephesians 1:3 ), definition of place: in heaven , not: in the case of the heavenly things , which are to be perceived in connection with the church (Zeltner, comp. Baumgarten), and such like (see in Wolf). It is most naturally to be combined (comp. Ephesians 6:12 ) with ταῖς ἀρχ . κ . τ . ἐξουσ ., in which case it was not needful to place ΤΑῖς before ἘΝ ΤΟῖς ἘΠΟΥΡΑΝΊΟΙς , seeing that the ἘΝ ΤΟῖς ἘΠΟΥΡΑΝ . , more precisely fixing the definition of the notion of the ἈΡΧΑΊ and ἘΞΟΥΣΊΑΙ (for even upon earth there are ἈΡΧΑΊ and ἘΞΟΥΣΊΑΙ ), is blended into a unity of notion with those two words (Fritzsche, ad Rom. I. p. 195), so that there is no linguistic necessity for connecting, as does Matthies, [179] ἘΝ ΤΟῖς ἘΠΟΥΡ . with ΓΝΩΡ .

The question why Paul did not write simply ΤΟῖς ἈΓΓΈΛΟΙς is not to be answered, with Hofmann, to the effect, that the spirits ruling in the ethnic world are intended, because such a special reference of the general expression τ . ἀρχ . κ . τ . ἐξουσ . must have been specified (by the addition of τῶν ἐθνῶν , or something of that sort); but to the effect, that the designation of the angels on the side of their power and rank, in contradistinction to the ΔΙᾺ Τῆς ἘΚΚΛΗΣΊΑς , serves for the glorifying of the ἐκκλησία . The Designation corresponds to the fulness and the lofty pathos by which the whole passage is marked. In Ephesians 1:21 , also, an analogous reason is found, namely, the glorifying of Christ . It is to be observed, in general, that the name ἄγγελος does not occur at all in our Epistle.

ΔΙᾺ Τῆς ἘΚΚΛΗΣΊΑς ] The Christian church ( i.e. the collective body of believers regarded as one community, comp. 1Co 12:28 ; 1 Corinthians 10:32 ; 1 Corinthians 15:9 ; Galatians 1:11 ; Philippians 3:6 ; Colossians 1:18 ; Colossians 1:24 , hence not betraying the later Catholic notion) is, in its existence and its living development, as composed of Jews and Gentiles combined in a higher unity, the medium de facto for the divine wisdom becoming known, the actual voucher of the same; because it is the actual voucher of the redemption which embraces all mankind and raises it above the hostile contrast of Judaism and heathenism, this highest manifestation of the divine wisdom (Romans 11:32 f.). To the angels, in accordance with their ministering interest in the work of redemption (Matthew 18:10 ; Luke 15:7 ; Luke 15:10 ; 1 Corinthians 11:10 ; Hebrews 1:14 ; 1 Peter 1:12 ), the church of the redeemed is therefore, as it were, the mirror, by means of which the wisdom of God exhibits itself to them.

πολυποίκιλος ] Eur. Iph. T . 1149; Eubul. in Athen. xv. p. 679 D; Orph. v. 11, lx. 4. It signifies much-manifold , i.e. in a high degree manifold, quite corresponding to the Latin multivarius. That it signifies very wise (Wolf, Koppe, Rosenmüller) has been erroneously assumed from Aesch. Prom . 1308, where ποίκιλος means crafty . As πολυποίκιλος , the wisdom of God manifests itself to the angels through the church, inasmuch as the counsel of the redemption of the world is therein presented to them in its universal realization, and they thus behold the manifold ways and measures of God, which He had hitherto taken with reference to the Jews and Gentiles, all now in their connection with the institute of redemption, all uniting in this as their goal. The church is thus for them, as regards the manifold wisdom of God, the central fact of revelation ; for the πολυποικίλους ὁδοὺς Θεοῦ , which they before knew not as to their ultimate end, but only in and by themselves (and how diverse were these ways with the Jews and with the Gentiles!), they now see in point of fact, through the church (“haec enim operum divinorum theatrum est,” Bengel), as ΠΟΛΥΠΟΊΚΙΛΟς ΣΟΦΊΑ . Thus by the appearing of the ἘΚΚΛΗΣΊΑ as a fact in the history of salvation, the wisdom of the divine government of the world has been on every side unveiled and brought to recognition. Entirely without warrant, Baur assumes, p. 429, that the Gnostic σοφία , with its heterogeneous forms and conditions (comp. Iren. Haer . i. 4. 1), was present to the mind of the writer.

[178] So also Baur refers it, p. 425, but explains the thus resulting aim of the creation from the doctrine of the Valentinians.

[179] The whole apprehension of our passage by Matthies is mistaken. He refers τῷ τὰ πάντα κτίσ . to all that God has either created in the natural reference of the term, or accomplished in a spiritual respect for the salvation of men. According to his view, ἵνα applies to τῷ τὰ π . κτίσ .; the ἀρχαὶ καὶ ἐξουσίαι are “the high and mighty ones who live in the world, or even in an invisible spiritual manner play their part in the same;” τὰ ἐπουράνια is to be taken “as the actually subsisting aggregate of all that is heavenly as the kingdom of God.” In the heavenly kingdom the wisdom of God becomes manifest by means of the church, and particularly to these high and mighty ones, because these are now, in the heavenly kingdom founded by Christ, brought , by means of the church, to the consciousness of their powerlessness . Thus, in fact, there are, as well in the notion of κτίζειν as in that of ἀρχαὶ κ . ἐξουσ ., two wholly different conceptions combined, in opposition to the hermeneutic principle of the unity of the sense; τὰ ἐπουράνια is arbitrarily generalized in a spiritualistic way, and the thought that the ἀρχαὶ καὶ ἐξουσίαι are brought to the consciousness of their powerlessness is purely imported, and the more mistakenly, inasmuch as it is God’s σοφία , not His δύναμις , of which it is here said that it is made manifest to the ἀρχαὶ καὶ ἐξουσ .

Verse 11

Ephesians 3:11 . Κατὰ πρόθεσιν τῶν αἰώνων ] belongs neither to πολυποίκιλος (Holzhausen) nor to σοφία (Koppe, Baumgarten-Crusius), nor does it relate to Ephesians 3:9 (Michaelis), nor yet to all that precedes from Ephesians 3:3 or Ephesians 3:5 (Flatt, comp. Zanchius, Morus), but to ἵνα γνωρισθῇ κ . τ . λ ., giving information important in its bearing on this ἵνα : in accordance with the purpose of the world-periods , i.e. in conformity with the purpose which God had during the world-periods (from the commencement of the ages up to the execution of the purpose); for already πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου it was formed, Ephesians 1:3 , but from the beginning of the world-ages it was hidden in God, Ephesians 3:9 . On the genitive, comp. Jude 1:6 ; Psalms 145:13 ; Winer, p. 169 [E. T. 234]. Others , incorrectly, take it as: the purpose concerning the different periods of the world , according to which, namely, God at first chose no people, then chose the Jews, and lastly called Jews and Gentiles to the Messianic kingdom (Schoettgen, comp. Chrysostom, Theophylact, Estius, Cornelius a Lapide, Baumgarten, Semler); for it is only the one purpose, accomplished in Christ, that is spoken of. See what follows. According to Baur, κατὰ πρόθεσιν τῶν αἰών . means: according to what God ideally proposed to Himself in the aeons (that is, the subjects of the divine ideas, constituting as such the essence of God). According to the Gnostic view, this returns, after it has been accomplished in Christ, as the realized idea back into itself.

ἣν ἐποίησεν ἐν Χ . Ἰ .] applies not to σοφία (Jerome, Luther, Moldenhauer), but to πρόθεσιν , and means: which He has fulfilled in Christ Jesus . So Castalio, Vatablus, Grotius, Zachariae, Koppe, Rosenmüller, Holzhausen, Matthies, Olshausen, de Wette, Bleek, and others. Comp. τὸ θέλημα ποιεῖν (Ephesians 2:3 ; Matthew 21:31 ; John 6:38 ), τὴν γνώμην ποιεῖν (Acts 17:17 ). Others : which He has formed in Christ Jesus. So Beza, Calvin, Estius, Michaelis, Morus, et al. , including Flatt, Rückert, Meier, Harless, Baumgarten-Crusius; also Hofmann, Schriftbew . I. p. 230. Linguistically admissible. Comp. Mark 3:6 ; Mark 15:1 ; Isaiah 29:15 ; Herod. i. 127. But the context tells in favour of the first-named interpretation, since what follows is the explanation assigning the ground of the purpose not as formed , but as carried into effect ; hence not merely ἐν Χριστῷ is said, but ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ (comp. Ephesians 1:5 ), since not the forming of that purpose, but its accomplishment , took place in the historically manifested Messiah, Jesus in Him, in His personal self-sacrifice is the realization of that divine purpose contained.

Verse 12

Ephesians 3:12 . Ἐν ᾧ κ . τ . λ .] gives the experimentally ( ἔχομεν ) confirmatory proof for the just stated ἣν ἐποίησεν ἐν Χ . Ἰ . See on Ephesians 1:7 .

τὴν παῤῥησίαν ] denotes not the libertatem dicendi , as at Ephesians 6:19 , since not merely the apostle’s (Vatablus) experimental consciousness, but that of the Christian is, in harmony with the context, expressed by ἔχομεν ; and the limitation to prayer (Bengel, Holzhausen) is entirely arbitrary. It is rather the free, joyful mood of those reconciled to God , in which they are assured of the divine grace (the opposite: fear of God’s wrath). Comp. Hebrews 3:6 ; Hebrews 4:16 ; Hebrews 10:19 ; Hebrews 10:35 ; 1Jn 2:28 ; 1 John 3:21 ; 1 John 4:17 ; 1 John 5:14 ; also Wis 5:1 , and see Grimm in loc. ; Bleek on Hebr . II. 1, p. 416 f. This παῤῥησία κατʼ ἐξοχήν is denoted by the article.

καὶ τὴν προσαγωγήν ] See on Ephesians 2:18 . Likewise a formally consecrated notion.

ἐν πεποιθήσει ] Fundamental disposition, in which we have, etc. For without confidence (see, as to πεποίθ ., on 2 Corinthians 1:15 ) the παῤῥησία and the προσαγωγή are not possible. How gloriously is this πεποίθησις on the part of the apostle expressed at e.g. Romans 8:38 f.!

διὰ τῆς πίστεως αὐτοῦ ] Causa medians of the ἔχομεν κ . τ . λ . Christ is the objective ground on which this rests, and faith in Christ is the subjective means for its appropriation and continued possession, Romans 5:1-2 . In αὐτοῦ there is implied nothing more than in εἰς αὐτόν (see on Romans 3:22 ; Galatians 3:22 ), and what Matthies finds in it (the faith having reference to Him alone ) is a sheer importation.

Verse 13

Ephesians 3:13 . Once more reviewing the whole section concerning the great contents of his office as apostle of the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:2-12 ), he concludes it, in especial retrospective reference to the introduction thereof (Ephesians 3:1 ), with the entreaty to the readers not to become discouraged, etc., in order thereupon yet further to attach to Ephesians 3:14 ff. a rich outpouring of intercession for them , which terminates in an enthusiastic doxology (Ephesians 3:20 f.). According to this view, δίο has its reference not merely in Ephesians 3:12 , but in the whole of what Paul has said, Ephesians 3:2-12 , regarding his office, namely: On that account , because so great and blissful a task has by God’s grace been assigned to me in my calling, I entreat you , etc. The greater the office conferred by God, the less does it become those whom it concerns to take offence or become downcast at the sufferings and persecutions of its holder.

μὴ ἐκκακεῖν ] applies to the readers: that ye become not disheartened , fainthearted and cowardly in the confession of the gospel, not to Paul: that I become not disheartened , as Syriac, Theodoret, Jerome, Bengel, Semler, and others, including Rückert, Harless, Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius, take it. In opposition to the latter, it may be urged that the supplying of Θεόν after αἰτοῦμαι , demanded in connection therewith, is in no wise indicated by the context, which rather in the bare αἰτοῦμαι , (comp. 2 Corinthians 5:20 ; 2 Corinthians 10:2 ) conveys only the idea of a request to the readers (it is otherwise at Colossians 1:9 ; James 1:6 ). Further, ἥτις ἐστὶ δόξα ὑμῶν manifestly contains a motive for the readers , to fulfil that which Paul entreats. Only from τούτου χάριν , Ephesians 3:14 , begins an intercession for the readers , that God may strengthen them. [180] The μου , finally, after ΘΛΊΨΕΣΙ is wholly superfluous, if Paul is imploring constancy for himself ; but not, if he is beseeching the readers not to become fainthearted, while he is suffering for them.

As to the form ἐγκακεῖν in Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Rückert, see on 2 Corinthians 4:1 .

ἘΝ ΤΑῖς ΘΛΊΨΕΣΊ ΜΟΥ ὙΠῈΡ ὙΜ .] in the tribulations which I endure for your sake (namely, as apostle of the Gentiles ). Comp. Paul’s own so touching comment upon this ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν , in Philippians 2:17 . The ἘΝ denotes the subsisting relation, in which their courage is not to give way. See Winer, p. 346 [E. T. 483]. To this conception the explanation on account of (Erasmus, Beza, Piscator, Estius, and others) is also to be referred, ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν is rightly attached, without repetition of the article, to ΤΑῖς ΘΛΊΨ . ΜΟΥ , because one may say ΘΛΊΒΕΣΘΑΙ ὙΠΈΡ ΤΙΝΟς (2 Corinthians 1:6 ; comp. Colossians 1:24 ). Comp. on Galatians 4:14 . Harless connects ὙΠῈΡ ὙΜ . with ΑἸΤΟῦΜΑΙ : I pray for your benefit . How violently opposed to the order of the words, and, with the right view of αἰτοῦμαι , impossible!

ἭΤΙς ἘΣΤῚ ΔΌΞΑ ὙΜῶΝ ] is designed to animate to the fulfilment of the entreaty, so that ἭΤΙς introduces an explanation serving as a motive thereto (Herm. ad Oed. R. 688; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 385), not equivalent to ἥ , but referring what is predicated “ ad ipsam rei naturam ” (Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. p. 190), like qui quidem, quippe qui, utpote qui. ἥτις may be referred either to the ΜῊ ἘΚΚΑΚΕῖΝ (Theodoret, Zanchius, Harless, Olshausen, Schenkel) or to ΤΑῖς ΘΛΊΨΕΣΊ ΜΟΥ ὙΠῈΡ ὙΜῶΝ (so usually ). In either case the relative is attracted by the following δόξα , and this not as Hebraizing (Beza, Matthies, and many), but as a Greek usage. Comp. as regards the ordinary exegesis, according to which the number also is attracted, Dem. c. Aphob. p. 853. 31: ἔχειὀγδόηκοντα μὲν μνᾶς , ἢν ἔλαβε προῖκα τῆς μητρός ; and see, in general, Winer, p. 150 [E. T. 206]. The usual reference is the right one; the sufferings of the apostle for the readers were a glory of the latter , it redounded to their honour that he suffered for them, [181] and this relation could not but raise them far above the ἐκκακεῖν , else they would not have accorded with the thought brought to their consciousness by the ἥτις ἐστὶ δόξα ὑμῶν . The referring of ἥτις to μὴ ἐκκακεῖν is inconsistent with the correct explanation of the latter (see above); for if Paul had said that it was glorious for the readers not to grow faint , he would either have given expression to a very general and commonplace thought, or else to one of which the specific contents must first be mentally supplied (gloria spiritualis ); whereas the proposition: “ my tribulations are your glory ,” is in a high degree appropriate alike to the ingenious mode of expression, and to the apostolic sense of personal dignity, in which is implied a holy pride . Comp. Philippians 2:17 .

[180] Harless finds, with Rhenferd (in Wolf), the connection: “ut pro se primum, tum pro Ephesiis oret.” But this change of the persons would have needed to be indicated by emphatic pronouns, if it were not to be looked upon as imported.

[181] This assertion stands in correct connection with his high apostolic position. That the apostle as δέσμιος τοῦ Χριστοῦ suffered for the Gentile-Christians, could only redound to the honour of the latter, inasmuch as they could not but appear of the higher value, the more he did not refuse to undergo afflictions for them. This we remark in opposition not only to Rückert, who finds it most advisable to leave the contents of the clause indefinite, in order not to deprive it of its oratorical significance, but also in opposition to Harless and Olshausen, who are of opinion that the sufferings of the apostle could not in themselves be any glory for the Gentile-Christians. They are so on account of the dignity of the sufferer , and of his relation to those for whose sake he suffered.

Verses 14-15

Ephesians 3:14-15 . [182] Τούτου χάριν ] on this account , in order that ye may not become disheartened, Ephesians 3:13 . Against the view that there is here a resumption of Ephesians 3:1 , see on that verse.

κάμπτω κ . τ . λ .] τὴν κατανενυγμένην δέησιν ἐδήλωσεν , Chrysostom. See on Philippians 2:10 . “A signo rem denotat,” Calvin; so that we have not, with Calovius and others, to think of an actual falling on his knees during the writing. Comp. Jerome, who makes reference to the genua mentis .

πρός ] direction of the activity: before the Father .

ἐξ οὗ πᾶσα πατριὰ κ . τ . λ .] Instead of saying: before the Father of all angels and men (a designation of God which naturally suggested itself to him as an echo of the great thoughts, Ephesians 3:10 and Ephesians 3:6 ), Paul expresses himself more graphically by an ingenious paronomasia, which cannot be reproduced in German ( πατέραπατριά ): from whom every family in heaven and upon earth bears the name , namely, the name πατριά , because God is πατήρ of all these πατριαί . Less simple and exact, because not rendering justice to the purposely chosen expression employed by Paul only here, is the view of de Wette: “every race, i.e. every class of beings which have arisen (?), bears the name of God as its Creator and Father, just as human races bear the name from their ancestor, e.g. the race of David from David.”

ἐξ οὗ ] forth from whom ; origin of the name, which is derived from God as πατήρ . On ὀνομάζεσθαι ἐκ , comp. Hom. Il. x. 68: πατρόθεν ἐκ γενεῆς ὀνομάζων ἄνδρα ἕκαστον . Xen. Mem. iv. 5. 12: ἔφη δὲ καὶ τὸ διαλέγεσθαι ὀνομασθῆναι ἐκ τοῦ συνιόντας κοινῇ βουλεύεσθαι . Soph. Oed. R . 1036.

πᾶσα πατριά ] πατριά , with classical writers ordinarily πάτρα , is equivalent to gens , a body belonging to a common stock, whether it be meant in the narrower sense of a family , [183] or in the wider, national sense of a tribe (Acts 3:25 ; 1 Chronicles 16:28 ; Psalms 22:27 ; Herod. i. 200). In the latter sense here; for every gens in the heavens can only apply to the various classes of angels (which are called πατριαί , not as though there were propagation among them, Matthew 22:30 , but because they have God as their Creator and Lord for a Father); as a suitable analogue, however, to the classes of angels, appear on earth not the particular families, but the nationalities . Rightly Chrysostom and his successors explain the word by γενεαί or γένη . The Vulgate has paternitas , a sense indicated also by Jerome, Theodoret, and others. Theodoret says: ὃς ἀληθῶς ὑπάρχει πατὴρ , ὃς οὐ παρʼ ἄλλου τοῦτο λοβὼν ἔχει , ἀλλʼ αὐτὸς τοῖς ἄλλοις μεταδέδωκε τοῦτο . This view (comp. Goth.: “all fadreinis ”) is expressed by Luther (approved in the main by Harless): Who is the true Father over all that are called children, etc . But πατριά never means fathership or fatherliness ( πατρότης ), and what could be the meaning of that. fathership in heaven? [184] ΠᾶΣΑ , every , shows that Paul did not think only of two πατριαί , the totality of the angels and the totality of men (Calvin, Grotius, Wetstein, Koppe, and others), or of the blessed in heaven and the elect on earth (Calovius, Wolf), but of a plurality , as well of angelic as of human πατριαί ; and to this extent his conception is, as regards the numerical form , though not as regards the idea of πατριά , different from that of the Rabbins, according to which the angels (with the Cabbalists, the Sephiroth) are designated as familia superior (see Wetstein, p. 247 f.; Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. p. 1753; Schoettgen, Horae , p. 1237 f.). Some have even explained πᾶσα πατριά as the whole family , in which case likewise either the angels and men (Michaelis, Zachariae, Morus, Meier, Olshausen, and earlier expositors), or the blessed in heaven and Christians on earth (Beza), have been thought of: but this is on the ground of linguistic usage erroneous. Comp. on Ephesians 2:21 .

ὀνομάζεται ] bears the name , namely, the name πατριά ; see above. The text does not yield anything else; [185] and if many (Beza, Piscator, Grotius, Wolf, Bengel, Michaelis, Zachariae, Morus, Koppe, and others, including Flatt and Olshausen) have understood the name children of God , this is purely imported. Others have taken “ nomen pro re ” (Zanchius, Menochius, Estius, et al. ), so that ὀνομάζεσθαι would denote existere. So, too, Rückert, according to whom Paul designs to express the thought that God is called the Father, inasmuch as all that lives in heaven and upon earth has from Him existence and name ( i.e. dignity and peculiarity of nature). Contrary to linguistic usage; εἶναι ὀνομάζεται must at least have been used in that case instead of ὀνομάζεται (comp. Isaeus, de Menecl. her. 41: τὸν πατέρα , οὗ εἶναι ὠνομάσθην , Plat. Pol . iv. p. 428 E: ὀνομάζονταί τινες εἶναι ). Incorrectly also Holzhausen: ὀνομάζειν means to call into existence . Reiche takes ἐξ οὗ ὀνομάζεται ( of whom it bears the name ) as the expression of the highest dominion and of the befitting reverence due, and refers πᾶσα πατριὰ ἐν οὐρ . to the pairings of the Aeons . The former without linguistic evidence: the latter a hysteroproteron.

[182] On ver. 15, see Reiche, Comm. Crit . p. 156 ff.

[183] To this head belongs also the Jewish-genealogical distinction from φυλή , according to which πατριά denotes a branch of one of the twelve tribes ( φυλῶν ). See on Luke 2:4 . Similarly in the sense of a family-association often with Pindar. On the relation of the word to the kindred φρατρία , see Boeckh, ad Pind. Nem. V. L. iv. 47; Dissen, p. 387; Hermann, Staatsalterth . § 5. 4, 10.

[184] Jerome finds it in the archangels , and Theodoret says: οὐρανίους πατέρας τοὺς πνευματικοὺς καλεῖ , and cites 1 Corinthians 4:15 .

[185] For the very reason that Paul does not put any defining addition to ὀνομάζεται (in opposition to Reiche’s objection). Nor is it to be objected, with Reiche, that the human πατριά bears the name not from God, but from the human ancestor. This historical relation remains entirely unaffected by the higher thought, that they are called πατριά from the universal, heavenly Father.


In ἐξ οὗὀνομάζεται God is certainly characterized as universal Father, as Father of all angel-classes in heaven and all peoples upon earth . Comp. Luther’s gloss: “All angels, all Christians, yea, all men, are God’s children, for He created them all.” But it is not at all meant by the apostle in the bare sense of creation, nor in the rationalistic conception of the all-fatherhood, when he says that every πατριά derives this name ἐκ Θεοῦ , as from its father; but in the higher spiritual sense of the divine Fatherhood and the sonship of God. He thinks, in connection with the ἐξ οὗ , of a higher πατρόθεν than that of the mere creation. For πατριαί , so termed from God as their πατήρ , are not merely all the communities of angels , since these were indeed υἱοὶ Θεοῦ from the beginning, and have not fallen from this υἱότης ; but also all nationalities among men , inasmuch as not only the Jews, but also all Gentile nations, have obtained part in the Christian υἱοθεσία , and the latter are συγκληρονόμα καὶ σύσσωμα καὶ συμμέτοχα τῆς ἐπαγγελίας ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ (Ephesians 3:6 ). If this has not yet become completely realized, it has at any rate already been so partially, while Paul writes; and in God’s counsel it stands ideally as an accomplished fact. On that account Paul says with reason also of every nationality upon earth, that it bears the name πατριά , because God is its Father. Without cause, therefore, Harless has taken offence at the notion of the All-fatherhood, which is here withal clearly though ideally expressed, and given to the passage a limitation to which the all-embracing mode of expression is entirely opposed: “whose name every child [ i.e. every true child] in heaven and upon earth bears.” Consequently, as though Paul had written something like: ἐξ οὗ πᾶσα ἀληθινὴ πατριὰ κ . τ . λ . With a like imported limitation Erasmus, Paraphr .: “omnis cognatio spiritualis , qua conglutinantur sive angeli in coelis, sive fideles in terris.”


With the non-genuineness of τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ι . Χ . (see the critical remarks) falls also the possibility of referring ἐξ οὗ to Christ (Beza, although with hesitation, Calvin, Zanchius, Hammond, Cramer, Reiche, and others). But if those words were genuine (de Wette, among others, defends them), ἐξ οὗ would still apply to God , because ἐξ οὗ κ . τ . λ . characterizes the fatherly relation, and ἵνα δῷ κ . τ . λ . applies to the Father.

Lastly, polemic references, whether in opposition to the particularism of the Jews (Chrysostom, Calvin, Zanchius, and others), or even in opposition to “scholam Simonis , qui plura principia velut plures Deos introducebat” (Estius), or in opposition to the worship of angels (Michaelis), or in opposition to the Gnostic doctrine of Syzygies (Reiche), are to be utterly dismissed, because arbitrary in themselves and inappropriate to the character and contents of the prayer before us.

Verse 16

Ephesians 3:16 . Ἵνα δῷ ] (see the critical remarks) introduces the design of the κάμπτω κ . τ . λ ., and therewith the contents of the prayer. Comp. on Ephesians 1:17 .

κατὰ τὸ πλοῦτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ ] i.e. in accordance with the fact that His glory is in so great fulness. Comp. on Ephesians 1:7 . It may be referred either to δῷ ὑμῖν or to what follows. The former is the most natural; comp. Ephesians 1:17 . According to His rich fulness in glory, God can and will bestow that which is prayed for. The δόξα , namely, embraces the whole glorious perfection of God, and can only with caprice be limited to the power (Grotius, Koppe, and others) or to the grace (Beza, Calvin, Zachariae, and others; comp. Matthies, Holzhausen, Olshausen).

δυνάμει κραταιωθῆναι ] instrumental dative: with power (which is instilled) to be strengthened ; opposite of ἐκκακεῖν , Ephesians 3:13 . That which effects this strengthening is the Holy Spirit ( διὰ τοῦ πνεύματος αὐτοῦ ). Comp. Romans 15:13 . According to Harless, it is dative of the form (comp. ἰσχύειν τοῖς σώμασι , Xen. Mem. ii. 7. 7), so that the being strengthened in power is regarded as opposed to the being strengthened in knowledge, or the like. But to what end would Paul have added εἰς τὸν ἔσω ἄνθρ ., if he had meant such special strengthening? The strengthening is to concern the whole inner man; hence the reference to a single faculty of the mind (Olshausen refers δυνάμει primarily to the will ) has no ground in the context. Others have explained it adverbially: in a powerful manner (Beza, Vater, Rückert, Matthies). See Bos, ed. Schaef. p. 743; Matthiae, p. 897. In this way δύναμις would be power, which is applied on the part of the strengthener . Comp. Xen. Cyr. i. 2. 2. But our interpretation better accords with the contrast of ἐκκακεῖν , which implies a want of power on the part of the readers .

εἰς τὸν ἔσω ἄνθρωπον ] εἰς , not for ἐν (Vulgate, Beza, and others), but in reference to the inner man , containing the more precise definition of the relation. See Kühner, II. § 557, note I. The inner man (not to be identified with the καινὸς ἄνθρωπος ) is the subject of the νοῦς , the rational and moral ego , the essence of man which is conscious of itself as an ethical personality, which is in harmony with the divine will (Romans 7:16 ; Romans 7:25 ); but in the case of the unregenerate is liable to fall under bondage to the power of sin in the flesh (Romans 7:23 ), and even in the case of the regenerate [186] needs constant renewing (Ephesians 4:23 ; Romans 12:2 ) and strengthening by the Spirit of God, whose seat of operation it is ( δυνάμει κραταιωθῆναι διὰ τοῦ πνεύματος ), in order not to be overcome by the sinful desire in the σάρξ , of which the ψυχή , the animal soul-nature, is the living principle (Galatians 5:16 f.). The opposite is ὁ ἔξω ἄνθρωπος (2 Corinthians 4:16 ), i.e. the man as an outward phenomenon, constituted by the σῶμα τῆς σαρκός (Colossians 2:11 ), which, by reason of its psychical quality (1 Corinthians 15:44 ), is the seat of sin and death (Romans 6:6 ; Romans 7:18 ; Romans 7:24 ). The inner man in and by itself is by virtue of the moral nature of its νοῦς , as the Ego exerting the moral will, and assenting to the divine law (Romans 7:20 ; Romans 7:22 ) directed to the good, yet without the renewing and strengthening by the Holy Spirit too weak for accomplishing, in opposition to the sinful principle in the σάρξ , the good which is perceived, felt, and willed by it (Romans 7:15-23 ). We may add, it is all the less an “ absurd assertion” (Harless), that the conceptions ὁ ἔσω and ὁ ἔξω ἄνθρωπος are derived from Plato’s philosophy (see the passages from Plato, Plotinus, and Philo, in Wetstein, and Fritzsche on Romans 7:22 ), inasmuch as for the apostle also the νοῦς in itself is the moral faculty of thinking and willing in man; inasmuch, further, as the Platonic dichotomy of the human soul-life into πνεῦμα ( νοῦς ) and ψυχή is found also in Paul (1 Thessalonians 5:23 ; comp. Hebrews 4:12 ), and inasmuch as the Platonic expressions had become popular (comp. also 1 Peter 3:4 ), so that with the apostle the Platonism of that mode of conception and expression by no means needed to be a conscious one, or to imply an acquaintance with the Platonic philosophy as such.

[186] It must be decided exclusively by the connection on each occasion, whether (as here and 2 Corinthians 4:16 ; comp. 1 Peter 3:4 ) the inner man of the regenerate is intended, or that of the unregenerate (Romans 7:22 ). The man is regenerate, however (in opposition to the evasive view in Delitzsch, Psych . p. 380 f.), only of water and the Spirit (Titus 3:5 ).

Verse 17

Ephesians 3:17 . Κατοικῆσαι κ . τ . λ .] Parallel to δυνάμει κραταιωθῆναι , etc., which “ declarat, quale sit interioris hominis robur,” Calvin. According to Rückert, something different from what forms the object of the first petition is here prayed for, and there is a climax. In this way we should have, in the absence of a connecting particle, to take the infinitive, with de Wette, as the infinitive of the aim; but the circumstance that with Christians the being strengthened by the Spirit, who is indeed the Spirit of Christ, cannot at all be thought of as different from the indwelling of Christ (Romans 8:9-10 ; 2 Corinthians 12:9 ; Philippians 4:13 ; Romans 15:17 f.), and the subsequent ἐῤῥιζ . κ . τεθεμ ., which manifestly further expresses the conception of the κραταιωθῆναι , decide for the former view. The explanatory element, however, lies in the emphatically prefixed κατοικῆσαι : that Christ may take up His abode by means of faith in your hearts. In the Holy Spirit, namely, which is the Spirit of Christ (see on Romans 8:9-10 ; Galatians 2:20 ; Galatians 4:6 ; 2 Corinthians 3:17 ), Christ fulfils the promise of His spiritual presence in the hearts (John 14:23 ; comp. above, on Ephesians 2:17 ; 2 Corinthians 13:5 ), in which faith is the appropriating instrument on the part of man (hence διὰ τῆς πίστεως ). Where thus there is a κραταιωθῆναι διὰ τοῦ πνεύματος , there is also to be found a κατοικῆσαι of Christ; because the former is not possible without a continuous activity of Christ in the hearts. Opposed to the κατοικῆσαι of Christ in the hearts is a transitory ( πρόσκαιρος ) reception of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:3 ). A more precise definition, by virtue of which the clause κατοικῆσαι κ . τ . λ . may in reality be an explanatory clause to that which precedes, is thus before us, namely, in the prefixed emphatic κατοικῆσαι itself. This in opposition to Harless and Olshausen, who find this more precise definition only in the following ἐν ἀγ . ἐῤῥιζ . κ . τεθεμ .

On κατοικεῖν in the spiritual sense, comp. Colossians 1:19 ; Colossians 2:9 ; Jam 4:5 ; 2 Peter 3:13 ; Test. XII. Patr . pp. 652, 734; and the passages in Theile, ad Jac. p. 220. The conception of the temple , however, is not found here; for the temple would be the dwelling of God , and Christ the corner-stone, Ephesians 2:20 ff.

Verse 18

Ephesians 3:18 . Ἐν ἀγάπἐῤῥιζ . κ . τεθεμ .] is not to be separated by interpunction from the following ἵνα , because it belongs to ἵνα κ . τ . λ . (comp. Lachmann): in order that, rooted and grounded in love, ye may be able, etc . Thus the aim of the two preceding parallel infinitive clauses is expressed, and the emphatically prefixed ἐν ἀγ . ἐῤῥιζ . κ . τεθεμ . is quite in keeping with the Pauline doctrine of the πίστις διʼ ἀγάπης ἐνεργουμένη , Galatians 5:6 ; 1 Corinthians 13:0 . Through the strengthening of their inner man by means of the Spirit, through the κατοικῆσαι of Christ in their hearts, the readers are to become established in love, and, having been established in love, are able to comprehend the greatness of the love of Christ. How often ἵνα and other conjunctions follow a part of the sentence which is with special emphasis prefixed, no matter whether that part of the sentence be subject or object (Romans 11:31 ; 2 Corinthians 2:4 ; 2 Thessalonians 2:7 ; Acts 19:4 ; Galatians 2:10 , al. ), may be seen in Fritzsche, ad Rom. II. p. 541; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 333 [E. T. 389]. Comp. on Galatians 2:10 . This construction is here followed by Beza, Cajetanus, Camerarius, Heinsius, Grotius, Calixtus, Semler, Storr, Rosenmüller, Flatt, Meier, Schenkel, and others, including Winer, Exodus 6:0 [E. T. 715], and Buttmann [E. T. 299]. Comp. already Photius in Oecumenius. ἐν ἀγ . ἐῤῥιζ . κ . τεθεμ . is, on the other hand, connected with what precedes by Chrysostom, Erasmus, Castalio, Luther, Estius, Er. Schmid, Michaelis, Morus, Koppe, and others, including Rückert, Matthies, Harless, Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius, de Wette, Bleek, holding that it attaches itself, with abnormal employment of case, predicatively to ἐν ταῖς καρδ . ὑμῶν . [187] To the abnormal nominative of the construction continued in participles there would be in itself nothing to object (see already Photius in Oecumenius, ad loc. ; Winer, p. 505 [E. T. 715]; Buttmann, p. 256 [E. T. 299]); but here the perfect participles are opposed to this, since they in fact would express not the state into which the readers are to come (“ita ut in amore sitis stabiles,” Morus), but the state in which they already are (so also Rückert), the state which is presupposed as predicate of the readers (so Harless and Olshausen). But to the desire that the readers might be strengthened, and that Christ might make His dwelling in their hearts, the presupposition that they were already ἐν ἀγάπἐῤῥιζωμένοι would stand in quite illogical relation. Present participles would be logically necessary: “inasmuch as ye are being confirmed in love,” namely, by the fact that Christ takes up His dwelling in you. De Wette, on the other hand, is wrong in appealing to Colossians 2:7 , where, indeed, in the case of ἐῤῥιζωμένοι the having received Christ appears as having already preceded.

ἐν ἀγάπῃ ] is, in accordance with the following figures, the soil in which the readers were rooted and grounded, namely, in love , the effect of faith, Christian brotherly love ; hence there is no reason in the relation of faith to love [188] for supplying after ἐῤῥιζ . κ . τεθεμ ., with Holzhausen and Harless, ἐν Χριστῷ , which is not even required by the anarthrous ἀγάπῃ ; for without an article ( in amando ) it has “ vim quasi verbi ,” Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. i. 1. 9. Such a supplement is, however, the more arbitrary, inasmuch as there is already a definition by ἐν ; consequently the reader could not light upon the idea of supplying such in thought. ἐν ἀγ . ἐῤῥιζ . κ . τεθεμ . is prefixed with emphasis, because only the loving soul is in a position to recognise the love of Christ (comp. 1 John 4:7 ff.). Erroneously Beza says: “charitatem intellige, qua diligimur a Deo ” (so also Calovius, Wolf, and others), and Bengel holds that the love of Christ , Ephesians 3:19 , is meant; against which in the very mention of love along with faith (Ephesians 1:15 ; 1 Corinthians 13:0 .) the absence of a genitival definition is decisive.

ἐῤῥιζ . καὶ τεθεμελ .] a twofold figurative indication of the sense: stedfast and enduring . Paul, in the vivacity of his imagination, conceives to himself the congregation of his readers as a plant (comp. Matthew 13:3 ff.), perhaps a tree (Matthew 7:17 ), and at the same time as a building . Comp. Col 2:7 ; 1 Corinthians 3:9 . Passages from profane literature for the tropical usage of both words may be seen in Raphel, Herod . p. 534; Bos, Exerc. p.183; Wetstein, p. 248. Comp. the Fathers in Suicer’s Thes . II. p. 905.

ἐξισχύσητε ] ye may be fully able ( Sir 7:6 ; Plut. Mor . p. 801 E; Strabo, xvii. p. 788).

καταλαβέσθαι ] to apprehend , κατανοεῖν . Comp. Acts 4:13 ; Acts 10:34 ; Acts 25:25 ; Josephus, Antt. viii. 6. 5, with classical writers in the active. Comp. on John 1:5 . Strangely at variance with the context (because the object is not suited thereto), Holzhausen takes it to mean to lay hold of, as a prize in the games (1 Corinthians 9:24 ; Philippians 3:12 ).

σὺν πᾶσι τοῖς ἁγίοις ] The highest and most precious knowledge (Philippians 3:8 ) Paul can desire only as a common possession of all Christians; individuals, for whom he wishes it, are to have it in communion with all ; as the knowledge of (the ground of salvation , so the attaining of the salvation itself (Acts 20:32 ).

τί τὸ πλάτος κ . τ . λ .] Sensuous illustration (arbitrarily declared by de Wette to be “hardly” in keeping with the Pauline style) of the idea: how great in every relation . The deeply affected mind with its poeticoimaginative intuition looks upon the metaphysical magnitude as a physical, mathematical one, σωματικοῖς σχήμασι (Chrysostom) extending on every side. Comp. Job 11:7-9 . The many modes of interpreting the several dimensions in the older expositors may be seen in Cornelius a Lapide and Calovius. Every special attempt at interpretation is unpsychological, and only gives scope to that caprice which profanes by dissecting the outpouring of enthusiasm. [189] Of what, however, are these dimensions predicated? Not of the Christian church , as the spiritual temple of God , Revelation 21:16 (Heinsius, Homberg, Wolf, Michaelis, Cramer, Koppe, and others; comp. Bengel), which is at variance with the context; inasmuch as a temple is not spoken of either before or after ( τεθεμελιωμένοιτὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ Θεοῦ !). Not of the work of redemption (Chrysostom: τὸ μυστήριον τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν οἰκονομηθέν , Theophylact, Oecumenius, Theodoret, Beza, Piscator, Zanchius, Calovius, and others, including Rückert, Meier, Harless, Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius, Bleek), because, after a new portion of the discourse is commenced with Ephesians 3:14 , the μυστήριον is not again mentioned; hence also not of the mystery of the cross , in connection with which marvellous allegories are drawn by Augustine and Estius from the figure of the cross. [190] Not of the love of God to us (Chrysostom: τὸ μέγεθος τῆς ἀγάπης τοῦ Θεοῦ , Theodore of Mopsuestia, Erasmus, Vatablus, Grotius, Baumgarten, Flatt); because previously ἐν ἀγάπῃ does not apply to this love. Not of the “ divine gracious nature ” (Matthies), which would only be correct if the predicates were exclusive attributes of the divine nature, so that, as a matter of course, the latter would suggest itself as the subject. Not of the wisdom of God , which de Wette quite irrelevantly introduces from Colossians 2:3 ; Job 11:8 . The love of Christ to men, Ephesians 3:19 , is the subject (Castalio, Calvin, Calixtus, Zachariae, Morus, Storr, Rosenmüller, Holzhausen), the boundless greatness of which is depicted. [191] Instead, namely, of the apostle adding τῆς ἀγάπης τοῦ Χριστοῦ immediately after ὕψος and thus bringing to a close the majestic flow of his discourse, now, when he has written as far as ὕψος , there first presents itself to his lively conception the as regards sense, climactically parallel to the just expressed καταλαβέσθαιὕψος oxymoron γνῶναι τὴν ὑπερβάλλουσαν τῆς γνώσεως ; he appends this, and can now no longer express the love of Christ in the genitive, so that τὸ πλάτοςὕψος remains without a genitive, but lays claim to its genitival definition as self-evident from the ἀγάπην τοῦ Χριστοῦ immediately following.

[187] Harless holds that the changing of the construction is here, as Colossians 2:2 , the more natural, inasmuch as the predicate is equally applicable to καρδίαις and ὑμῶν , and as an essential element must stand forth independently.

[188] Calvin already aptly remarks: “neque enim disputat P., ubi salus nostra fundata sit … sed quam firma et tenax debeat in nobis esse caritas” (rather: “quam firmi et tenaces debeamus esse in caritate”).

[189] By way of example, we subjoin some of these modes of explanation, e.g. Oecumenius; it is indicated that redemption and the knowledge of Christ were foreordained from eternity ( μῆκος ), extend to all ( πλάτος ), reach even to hell in their efficacy ( βάθος ), and that Christ has ascended above the heavens ( ὕψος ). Erasmus, Paraphr.: altitudine ad angelos usque se proferens, profunditate ad inferos usque penetrans, longitudine ac latitudine ad omnes hujus mundi plagas sese dilatans.” Grotius, “ latissime se effundit in omnes homines, et in longum , i.e. in omnia saecula se extendit, et ex infima depressione hominem liberat, et in loca suprema evehit.” For other instances, see Calovius.

[190] According to Estius, the length applies to the upright beam of the cross as far as the cross-beam; the breadth , to the cross-beam; the height , to the portion projecting above the cross-beam; the depth , to the portion fixed in the ground. He comprehends the length of the cross, who perceives that from the beginning to the end of time no one is justified save by the cross; the breadth , who reflects that the church in all the earth has come forth from the side of Christ! the height , who ponders the sublimity of the glory in heaven obtained through Christ; the depth , who contemplates the mystery of the divine election of grace, and is thereby led to the utterance, Romans 11:32 ! This as a warning instance how even the better exegetes, when they give the reins to subjectivity, may lose themselves in the most absurd attempts at interpretation.

[191] Comp. Luther: “that nothing is so broad, long, deep, high, as to be beyond the power and help of Christ.”

Verse 19

Ephesians 3:19 . Γνῶναι ] Parallel to καταλαβέσθαι .

τέ ] and , denotes, in a repetition of words of corresponding signification ( καταλαβέσθαιγνῶναι ), the harmony, the symmetrical relation of the elements in question (Hartung, Partikellehre , I. p. 105); hence we have the less to assume a climax in connection with γνῶναί τε κ . τ . λ ., since this must have been hinted at least by γνῶναι δέ , or more clearly by μᾶλλον δὲ καὶ γνῶναι , or the like.

τὴν ὑπερβάλλ . τῆς γνώσεως ] The oxymoron (“suavissima haec quasi correctio est,” Bengel) lies in the fact that an adequate knowledge of the love of Christ transcends human capacity, but the relative knowledge of the same opens up in a higher degree, the more the heart is filled with the Spirit of Christ, and thereby is itself strengthened in loving (Ephesians 3:17-18 ), which knowledge is not of the discursive kind, but that which has its basis in the consciousness of experience . Theodore of Mopsuestia aptly says: τὸ γνῶναι ἀντὶ τοῦ ἀπολαῦσαι λέγει , ἐπὶ πραγμάτων εἰπὼν τὴν γνῶσιν , ὡς ἐν ψαλμῷ τὸ ἐγνώρισάς μοι ὁδοὺς ζωῆς , ἀντὶ τοῦ ἐν ἀπολαύσει με τῆς ζωῆς κατέστησας . The genitive τῆς γνώσεως is dependent on the comparative ὑπερβάλλουσαν (Hom. Il. xxiii. 847; Plat. Gorg . p. 475 C; Bernhardy, p. 170), not upon ἀγάπην , from which construction the reading of Jerome (also A, 74, 115, al. , Ar. p.), ἀγάπην τῆς γνώσεως , has arisen, which in any case even though we should understand, with Grotius, the love (to God and one’s neighbour) which flows from the knowledge of Christ yields an inappropriate sense, and obliterates the oxymoron.

ἀγάπην τοῦ Χριστοῦ ] genitive of the subject . It is the love of Christ to us (Romans 8:35 ), shown in His atoning death (Galatians 2:20 ; Romans 5:6 f., al. ). Incorrect (although still unhappily enough defended by Holzhausen) is the view of Luther, 1545 [192] : “that to love Christ is much better than all knowledge.” At variance with the words, since τὴν ὑπερβ . τῆς γνώσ . can only be taken adjectively ; and at variance with the context, since love to Christ is not spoken of in the whole connection. Comp. on the other hand, Ephesians 3:8 ; Ephesians 3:12 .

ἵνα πληρωθῆτε κ . τ . λ .] Aim of the ἐξισχύειν καταλαβέσθαιΧριστοῦ : in order that ye may be filled up to the whole fulness of God . τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ Θεοῦ (comp. Ephesians 4:13 , πλήρωμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ ) is, according to the context, which speaks of the operationes gratiae (Ephesians 3:16-18 ; Ephesians 3:20 ), the charismatic fulness, which is bestowed by God. Hence the sense: in order that ye may be filled with divine gifts of grace to such extent, that the whole fulness of them ( πᾶν has the emphasis) shall have passed over upon you . πλήρωμα namely, the definite meaning of which is gathered from the context (comp. on Ephesians 1:10 , Ephesians 1:23 ), has, by virtue of its first signification: id quores impletur , often also the derived general signification of copia , πλοῦτος , πλῆθος , because that, by which a space is made full, appears as copiously present. So Song of Solomon 5:12 : πληρώματα ὑδάτων , Romans 15:29 : πλήρωμα εὐλογίας Χριστοῦ , Ephesians 4:13 ; [193] Eur. Ion . 664: φίλων πλήρωμα . Comp. Hesychius: ΠΛΉΡΩΜΑ · ΠΛῆΘΟς , fritzsche, ad Rom. II. p. 471. Quite so the German Fülle. Grotius takes it actively, thus as equivalent to πλήρωσις , making full : “donis, quibus Deus implere solet homines.” This is not, indeed, at variance with linguistic usage (see on Ephesians 1:10 ), but less simple, inasmuch as the passive πληρωθῆτε most naturally makes us assume for ΠΛΉΡΩΜΑ also the passive notion, namely, that of the experienced divine fulness of gifts. Others , retaining the signification: id quo res impletur , but not the signification copia derived therefrom, have assumed as the meaning: the perfection of God. See Chrysostom: πληροῦσθαι πάσης ἀρετῆς ἧς πλήρης ἐστινΘεός . Comp. Oecumenius and others. Recently so Rückert: “in order that you may be continually more filled with all perfection, until you have finally attained to all the fulness of the divine perfection .” Comp. Olshausen. But this goal cannot possibly be thought of by Paul as one to be realized in the temporal life (1 Corinthians 13:10-12 ). This also in opposition to Matthies, who understands the infinite fulness of the in grace, truth, etc., inexhaustible essence of God, which has become manifest in Christ. Harless here, too (but see on Ephesians 1:23 ), will have the gracious presence of the divine δόξα , with which God fills His people, to be meant; just as Holzhausen makes us think of the Shechinah filling the temple (comp. Baumgarten, Michaelis). The church , however, is not according to the context here meant by πλήρωμα (Koppe, Stolz, and others); and the turgid and involved analysis given by Schenkel in this sense is quite an arbitrary importation of meaning, [194] since εἰς π . τ . πλήρ . τ . Θ . can only state simply that the ΠΛΗΡΩΘῆΝΑΙ is to be a full one, consequently πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα must be the totality of that which is communicated by the πληρωθῆναι .

ΕἸς ] does not stand for ἘΝ (Grotius, Estius, Rosenmüller), and does not signify either: into the very (becoming merged into), as Matthies, nor up towards , as Schenkel explains it, to which πλήρωμα is not suitable; but it indicates the quantitative goal of the fulfilment. Matthiae, p. 1348.

[192] In the earlier editions he had correctly: the love of Christ, which yet surpasses all knowledge .

[193] Not even in John 1:16 , where, rather, the context (ver. 14: πλήρης χάριτος κ . τ . λ .) demands the first signification: that, of which Christ is fall .

[194] “ The world-whole (?) fulfilling itself (?) in God , i.e. completing itself unto the expression of the highest perfection, reflecting itself in the church (?), in so far as there is no longer found in it any want, any kind of defect .” A complication of ideas, of which the clear-headed rational Paul was quite incapable.

Verses 20-21

Ephesians 3:20-21 . That which is strictly speaking the prayer, the petition, is at an end; but the confidence in the Almighty, who can still do far more, draws forth from the praying heart a right full and solemn ascription of praise, with the fulness of which that of Romans 16:25-27 is to be compared.

ὑπὲρ πάντα ποιῆσαι ] to be taken together. To he able to do beyond all , i.e. more than all , is a popular expression of the very highest active power ; so that πάντα is quite unlimited, and it is not, with Grotius, arbitrarily to be limited by quae hactenus visa sunt . This ὑπὲρ πάντα does not belong to δυναμένῳ (Holzhausen), because otherwise ποιῆσαι would be superfluous; nor does ὑπέρ stand adverbially (2 Corinthians 11:23 ), as Bengel would have it, which could not occur to any reader on account of the πάντα standing beside it. There is nothing at which the action of God would have its limit ; He can do still more.

ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ ὧν αἰτούμ . ἢ νοοῦμ .] a more precise definition to the universal and indefinite ὑπὲρ πάντα , specializing and at the same time enhancing the notion of ὑπέρ : above measure more than what we ask or understand . According to Rückert, ὧν αἰτούμ . has reference to πάντα : Paul namely, instead of adding ὧν αἰτούμ . immediately after πάντα , has first for the strengthening of the ὑπέρ introduced the additional ὑπερεκπερ ., and now must needs annex in the genitive what ought properly, as construed with πάντα , to follow in the accusative. A course in itself quite unnecessary; and if the apostle had been concerned only about a strengthening of the ὑπέρ , and he had, in using πάντα , already had ἃ αἰτούμ . in his mind, he must have written after ὑπερεκπερ .: πάντωναἰτούμ .; so that the sense would be: more than all (which we ask, etc.), exceeding more than all , which we ask, etc.

ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ ] is, with the exception of 1 Thessalonians 3:10 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:13 (Elz.), codd. at Daniel 3:22 , nowhere else preserved. Comp., however, ὑπερεκπερισσῶς , 1 Thessalonians 5:13 ; Clem. Cor. I. 20; λίαν ἐκ περισσοῦ , Mark 6:51 ; ὑπερπερισσῶς , Mark 7:37 ; ὑπερπερισσεύω , Romans 5:20 ; 2 Corinthians 7:4 . The frequent, and in part bold, compounds with ὑπέρ used by Paul are at such places in keeping with the intensity of his pious feeling, which struggles after adequate expression.

ὧν , for τούτων ἅ , is genitive of comparison . See Bernhardy, p. 139.

ἤ ] Whether our asking or our apprehending be regarded, the one as the other is infinitely surpassed by God’s active power. “ Cogitatio latius patet quam preces ; gradatio,” Bengel.

τὴν ἐνεργουμ .] not passive (Estius), but middle . See on Galatians 5:6 .

ἐν ἡμῖν ] in our minds , appeal to the consciousness of experience with regard to the divine power, which is at work in the continued enlightenment and whole Christian endowment of the inner man. [195] Michaelis arbitrarily refers it to the miraculous gifts , which in fact would be applicable only to individuals.

[195] Chrysostom aptly remarks that this, too, we should neither have asked nor hoped.

Verse 21

Ephesians 3:21 . αὐτῷ ] pointing back with rhetorical emphasis. See Schaef. Melet. p. 84; Kühner, II. p. 330.

δόξα ] sc . εἴη : the befitting honour . Comp. Romans 11:36 ; Romans 16:27 ; Galatians 1:5 ; Philippians 4:20 . Certainly God has the glory (Ephesians 1:17 ), from which fact Harless explains the article; but it is not of this that the doxologies speak, not of this fact being testified to God, but of His receiving the human praise, which to Him pertains (Revelation 4:11 ). Compare the conception, δοῦναι δόξαν τῷ Θεῷ , Luke 17:18 ; Acts 12:23 ; John 9:24 ; Romans 4:20 ; Revelation 4:9 .

ἐν τῇ ἐκκλ . ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰ .] not to be taken together (Luther, Michaelis, Koppe, Rosenmüller, Flatt, Holzhausen, Meier, Olshausen), against which we may decidedly urge, not indeed the want of the article, since ἡ ἐκκλησία ἐν Χριστῷ , the Christian church, might be combined as one idea in contradistinction from the Jewish, or any other ἐκκλησία whatever, but the utter superfluousness of this distinguishing designation; for that ἡ ἐκκλησία was the Christian church, the ἐκκλησία κατʼ ἐξοχήν , was self-evident. Rather is ἐν τῇ ἐκκλ . the outward domain in which God is to be praised, and ἐν Χριστῷ the spiritual sphere in which this ascription of praise is to take place; for not outside of Christ, but in Christ as the specific element of faith, in which the pious life-activity of the Christian moves does he praise God. Comp. Ephesians 3:5 ; Ephesians 3:20 . Allied, but not identical (in opposition to Grotius and others), is the conception διὰ Χριστοῦ , Romans 1:8 ; Romans 7:25 . Both conceptions: Colossians 3:17 .

εἰς πάσας τὰς γενεὰς κ . τ . λ .] unto all generations of the world-age of world-ages . [196] This cumulation of the expressions is solemn. The αἰὼν τῶν αἰώνων denotes the eternal world-period beginning with the Parousia , the αἰὼν μέλλων , conceived of as the superlativum of all world periods (Winer, p. 220 [E. T. 309]), in so far as it, just as the last and eternal one, transcends all. other αἰῶνες since the beginning of the world. Comp. Daniel 7:18 ; Daniel 3:0 Esdr. 4:38. The plural expression οἱ αἰῶνες τῶν αἰώνων (Galatians 1:5 ; Philippians 4:20 , al. ) is not different as to the thing intended, but is so as to the conception; since in it the Messianic period, although equally thought of (comp. also on Luke 1:50 ) as the superlative of all the αἰῶνες , is not thought of in its unity without distinction, but as a continuous series of several periods: consequently not as a single totality, as in the case of ὁ αἰών , but according to the several constituent parts, which collectively form the whole of the Messianic eternity, in short, not as the time of times , as in our passage, but as the times of times . By εἰς πάσας τὰς γενεὰς κ . τ . λ . the thought is expressed, that the indicated ascription of praise to God will extend to all the generations of the (nigh) Messianic world-period, i.e. that this ascription of praise in the church is to endure not only up to the Parousia, but then also ever onward from generation to generation in the Messianic aeon, consequently to last not merely ἐς τὸ παρόν , but also ἐς τὸ ἀΐδιον . On γενεά , generation (three of which about = 100 years), comp. Acts 14:16 , and the passages from the LXX. and Apocrypha in Schleusner’s Thes .; from Greek writers, in Wessel, ad Diod. I. 24. The designation of the successive time-spaces of the everlasting Messianic αἰών by γενεαί , is derived from the lapse of time in the pre-Messianic world-period in which with the changing generations one age of man ever succeeds another by virtue of a certain anthropological mode of regarding eternity. Of the church , however, it is presupposed that she herself (and so, too, will it be with her praising of God) endures on into the everlasting αἰών , but not that she has still a very long temporal duration before the Parousia, according to which de Wette has here found a contradiction to the apostle’s expectation elsewhere of the nearness of the Parousia. The Parousia brings for the ἐκκλησία not the end, but the consummation. Hofmann, Schriftbew . II. 2, p. 127, retaining καί before ἐν Χρ . Ἰ . (see the critical remarks), would have εἰς πάσας τὰς γενεάς κ . τ . λ ., to belong only to ἐν Χρ . Ἰ ., and not to ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ ; for only at present and upon earth does the glorification of God take place in the church , but in Christ it takes place eternally. Incorrectly, because even the temporal glorification does not take place otherwise than ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ , consequently the καί would have had its logical position only after Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ . If καί were genuine, it would not be equivalent to δέ , as would need to be assumed on Hofmann’s view, but it would be et quidem, idque , however superfluous and cumbrous such a stress laid on it might be. According to Baur, p. 433, there meets us again here the Gnostic idea of the αἰῶνες , in accordance with which they, “as the γενεαὶ τοῦ αἰῶνος τῶν αἰώνων , are the aeons in the sense, in which God Himself, as the extra-temporal unity of time, individualizes Himself in the aeons as the elements of self-unfolding time.” In this way one may over-urge Gnosticism.

[196] “ αἰῶνες , periodi oeconomiae divinae ab una quasi scena ad aliam decurrentes,” Bengel.

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Ephesians 3". Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.