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HAVING illustrated with such cordial satisfaction and impressive imagery the high privileges of the Gentile converts, the apostle, as his manner is, resolves to present a prayer for them. But other thoughts rush into his mind, suggested by his own personal condition. He was a prisoner; and as he was now writing to Gentiles, at least was at that moment addressing the Gentile portion of the Ephesian church, an allusion to his bonds was natural, and seems to have been introduced at once as a proof of the honesty of his congratulations, and as a circumstance that must have prepared his readers to enter into the spirit of the earnest and comprehensive supplication to be offered on their behalf. But the impressive theme on which he had been dilating with such ecstasy still vibrated in his heart, and the mention of his imprisonment, originating in his attachment to the Gentiles, suggested a reference to his special functions as the apostle of heathendom. These ideas came upon him with such force, and brought with them such associations, that he could not easily pass from them. The clank of his chain at length awakens him to present reality, and he concludes the parenthesis with a request that his readers would not mope and despond over his sufferings, endured for a cause in which they had so tender and blessed interest. The 1st and 13th verses are thus in close connection, and the apostle, as if describing a circle, comes round at length to the point from which he originally started. The connection is - “For this cause, I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles”—“bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(Ephesians 3:1.) τούτου χάριν—“For this cause;” the reference being not to any special element in the previous illustration, but to the whole of it-inasmuch as Gentile believers are raised along with believing Jews to those high privileges and honours now common to both of them. The remarks we have made will show that we regard the construction as broken by a long parenthesis, and resumed in Ephesians 3:14, not at Ephesians 3:8, as OEcumenius and Grotius suppose, nor yet at Ephesians 3:13, as Zanchius, Cramer, and Holzhausen maintain. In the former hypothesis, the connection thus stands—“I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles”—“even to me, less than the least of all saints, is this grace given.” But here there is no natural contact of ideas, and the change of case from the nominative to the dative, though vindicated by OEcumenius from examples in Thucydides and Demosthenes, is, as Origen affirms, a solecism, and is fatal to the hypothesis. Catena in loc. ed. Cramer. Oxford, 1842. The 8th verse is inseparably connected also with the 6th and 7th verses. The other opinion, that the course of thought is resumed in Ephesians 3:13, is proved to be untenable as well by the occurrence of the simple διό in that verse, as by the fact that the repeated τούτου χάριν of the following verse has no foundation in the sentiment of the 13th. The idea expressed in the 13th verse is a subordinate and natural conclusion of the digression. Erasmus, Schmid, Michaelis, and Hammond would consider the whole chapter a parenthesis, but such an opinion makes the digression altogether too long, and overlooks the connecting link in Ephesians 3:14. The majority of expositors adopt the view we have given, to wit, that Ephesians 3:14 resumes the interrupted sentiment. Theodoret says- ταῦτα πάντα (Ephesians 3:1-13) ἐν μέσῳ τεθεικὼς ἀναλαμβάνει τὸν περὶ προσευχῆς λόγον. This opinion plainly har monizes with the scope and construction of the chapter. Winer, § 62, 4.
But there are some commentators who deny that any parenthesis or digression occurs, and for this purpose various supplements have been proposed for the 1st verse. Many supply the verb εἰμί—“For this cause I Paul am the prisoner of Jesus Christ.” This conjecture has for its authority the Peschito, which is followed by Chrysostom, Theophylact, Anselm, Erasmus, Aretius, Cajetan, Beza, with a large host of modern critics, the version of Tyndale, and Geneva. The paraphrase of Chrysostom is- διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἐγὼ δέδεμαι; and he adds in explanation of the phrase—“if my Master was crucified for you, much more am I bound.” But our objection is, first, that δέσμιος has the article-I am the prisoner, whereas Paul may be supposed to say, “I am a prisoner.” It is alleged by Beza, Rollock, and Meyer, that the notoriety of Paul as a prisoner might have prompted him to use the article. But such a supposition is not in harmony with the apostle's character. Under such an exegesis also, as has been often remarked, τούτου χάριν and ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν would form a tautology. The apostle does not mean to magnify the fact of his imprisonment: he merely hints in passing that it originated in the proclamation of those very truths which he had been discussing. Middleton on Greek Article, p. 358. Others, again, such as the Codices D, E, supply πρεσβεύω - a spurious insertion borrowed from Ephesians 6:20, and adopted by Ambrosiaster and Castalio, as well as by Calvin in his Latin rendering-legatione fungor. Another MS. has the verb κεκαύχημαι, taken from Philippians 2:16. Jerome supplies-cognovi mysterium, and Camerarius gives us-hoc scribo. Meyer's rendering is peculiar-deshalb-that you may be built-zu diesem Behufe bin Ich Paulus, der Gefesselte Christi Jesu um euret, der Heiden wi llen. But the plain supposition of a long parenthesis renders all such supplements superfluous.
᾿εγὼ παῦλος—“I Paul,” his own name being inserted to give distinctness, personality, and authority to the statement, as in 1 Corinthians 1:12-13; 1 Corinthians 3:4-5; 1 Corinthians 3:22; 2 Corinthians 10:1; Galatians 5:2; Colossians 1:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:18; Philemon 1:9. That name was venerated in those churches, and its formal mention must have struck a deep and tender chord in their bosom. Once Saul, the synonym of antichristian intolerance, it was now Paul, not merely a disciple or a servant, but-
ὁ δέσμιος τοῦ χριστοῦ ᾿ιησοῦ—“the prisoner of Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 1:8; Philemon 1:9. The genitive, as that of originating cause, signifies not merely “a prisoner belonging to Christ,” but one whom Christ, that is, Christ's cause, and not Caesar, had imprisoned. Winer, § 30, 2, β; Acts 23:11. His loss of liberty arose from no violation of law on his part: it was solely in prosecuting his mission that he was apprehended and confined; for he was in fetters-
ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν τῶν ἐθνῶν—“on behalf of you Gentiles,” a common sense of the preposition, which is repeated in Ephesians 3:12. It was his office as apostle of the Gentiles which exposed him to persecution, and led to his present incarceration. Acts 21:22; Acts 25:11; Acts 28:16. His vindication of such truths as formed the last paragraph of the preceding chapter, roused Jewish jealousy and indignation. Nay, in writing to the Ephesians he could not forget that the suspicion of his having taken an Ephesian named Trophimus into the temple with him, created the popular disturbance that led to his capture and his final appeal to Caesar, his journey to Rome, and his imprisonment in the imperial city. The apostle proceeds to explain more fully the meaning of this clause-
(Ephesians 3:2.) εἴγε ἠκούσατε τὴν οἰκονομίαν—“If indeed ye have heard of the dispensation.” As the translation—“if ye have heard”-seems to imply that Paul was a stranger to the Ephesian church, various attempts have been made to give the words another rendering. (See Introduction.) That εἴγε may bear the meaning “since,” is undeniable (Ephesians 4:21; Colossians 1:23); or, “if indeed, as I take for granted, ye have heard;” or, as Estius and Wiggers translate—“if, as is indeed the case, ye have heard.” Hermann, ad Viger. p. 834. The particle γε is used in suppletive sentences (Hartung, Partik. 1.391), and may be rendered und zwar—“and indeed.” Harless is inclined to take the words as hypothetical, as indicating want of personal acquaintance with his readers; but Hartung (2.212) lays it down, that in cases where the contents of the sentence are adduced as proof of a preceding statement, the meaning of εἴγε approaches that of ὅτι and ἐπεί. Hoogeveen also states the same canon. The apostle says-I am a prisoner for you Gentiles; and he now gives the reason of his assertion-Ye must surely have heard of the dispensation committed to me-a dispensation whose prominent and distinctive element it is to preach among the Gentiles.
Reckless efforts have been made upon the verb ἠκούσατε-as when Pelagius renders it firmiter tenetis. So Anselm, Grotius, and Rinck, Sendschreib. des Korinth. p. 56. See under Ephesians 1:15. The apostle has been supposed by Musculus, Crocius, Flatt, and de Wette, to mean “hearing by report of others.” There is no proof of this in the language, nor of the other version—“hearing, and also attending and understanding.” The writer may refer to his own sermons, for we cannot say with Calvin-credibile est, quum ageret Ephesi, eum tacuisse de his rebus. The apostle may, in this quiet form, stir up their memory of the truth, that mission to the heathen was his special work-not his work by accident, but by fixed Divine arrangement. He preached in Ephesus to both Jew and Gentile; and his precise vocation, as the apostle of the Gentiles, might not have been very fully or formally discussed. Still it was a theme which could not have been kept in abeyance. They surely had heard it from his lips; and this εἴγε, rather than ὅτι, is the expression of a gentle hope that they had not forgotten the lesson. Yet there is no reprehension in the phrase, as is supposed by Vitringa and Holzhausen.
The term οἰκονομία does not signify the apostolical office, as is the opinion of Luther, Musculus, Rollock, Aretius, Crocius, Wieseler, and others, for it is explained by the apostle himself in the following verse; and it cannot denote dispensatio doctrinae, as Pelagius translates it; not officium dispensandae gratiae Dei, as Anselm explains it. See under Ephesians 1:10. Its meaning is arrangement or plan; and the apostle employs it to describe the mode in which he had been selected and qualified to preach faith and privilege to the Gentiles. Chrysostom identifies the οἰκονομία with the ἀποκάλυψις of the following verse—“As much as to say, I learned it not from man.” How came it that a person like Paul-a staunch Pharisee, a scholar of Gamaliel, attached to rabbinical studies, and a zealot in defence of the law-how came it that he, with antecedents so notorious in their contrast, should be the man to preach, as his special mission, the entrance of Gentiles into Christian privilege? The method of his initiation was of God; and that “economy” is described as being-
τῆς χάριτος τοῦ θεοῦ τῆς δοθείσης μοι εἰς ὑμᾶς—“of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward.” This χάρις is not, as Grotius and Rückert imagine, the apostolical office, but the source or contents of it. We see no ground to identify χάρις with the following μυστήριον, though it includes it. The idea is either that the οἰκονομία had its origin in that χάρις, or rather that the χάρις was its characteristic element. Winer, § 30, 2. That grace was given him, not that he might enjoy it as a private luxury, but that he by its assistance might impart it to others- εἰς ὑμᾶς—“to you,” not inter vos, as Storr makes it. Galatians 1:15; Galatians 2:9; Acts 22:21. There may, as Stier suggests, be an allusion in the οἰκονομία to the οἰκοδομή of Ephesians 3:21 in the previous chapter. In the house-arrangement and distribution of offices, the building of the Gentile portion of the structure was Paul's special function. The apostle now becomes more special in his description-
(Ephesians 3:3.) ῞οτι κατὰ ἀποκάλυψιν ἐγνωρίσθη μοι τὸ μυστήριον—“How that by revelation was the mystery made known to me.” ᾿εγνώρισε is the reading of the Received Text, on the authority of D111, E, J, K, and many minuscules, and is received by Knapp and Tittmann; but ἐγνωρίσθη has the preponderant authority of A, B, C, D1, F, G, etc., the Syriac and Vulgate, and is adopted by Lachmann, Hahn, and Tischendorf. The “relative particle ὅτι, as the correlative of τί, introduces an objective sentence.” Donaldson, Greek Gram. § 584. It leads to further explanation, and the clause is a supplementary accusative connected with the previous verb. The mystery itself is unfolded in Ephesians 3:6; for, as we have seen under Ephesians 1:9, “mystery” is not something in itself incomprehensible, but merely something unknown till God please to reveal it-something undiscoverable by man, and to the knowledge of which he comes by Divine disclosure- κατὰ ἀποκάλυψιν, the emphasis lying on the phrase, as is indicated by its position. Galatians 2:2. In Galatians 1:12, the genitive with διά is employed. Grammarians, as Bernhardy (p. 241) and Winer (§ 51), show that κατά, with the accusative, has sometimes an adverbial signification; so Meyer renders offenbarungsweise. The difference is not material; but δἰ ἀποκαλύψεως would refer to the means or method of disclosure, whereas κατὰ ἀποκάλυψιν may describe the shape which it assumed. The general spirit of the statement is, that his mission to the Gentiles was not created by the expansive philanthropy of his own bosom, nor was it any sourness of temper against his countrymen that prompted him to select, as his favourite sphere of labour, the outfield of heathendom. He might have been a believer, but still, like many thousands of the Jews-& ldq uo;zealous of the law.” It was by special instruction that he comprehended the worldwide adaptations of the gospel, and gave himself to the work of evangelizing the heathen-the mystery being their admission to church fellowship equally with the Jews. He alludes, not perhaps so much to the first instructions of the Divine will at his conversion (Acts 9:15), as to subsequent revelations. Acts 22:21; Galatians 1:16. And he adds-
καθὼς προέγραψα ἐν ὀλίγῳ—“as I have just written in brief;” or, as Tyndale renders—“as I wrote above, in feawe wordes;” Ephesians 1:9, Ephesians 2:13. The parenthetical marking of some editors commencing with this clause, and extending to the end of Ephesians 3:4, is useless; and the relative ὅ in Ephesians 3:5 belongs to the antecedent μυστήριον in Ephesians 3:4. There is no occasion, with Hunnius, Marloratus, Chrysostom, and Calvin, to make the reference in the verb to some earlier epistle. Theodoret says well- οὐχ ὡς τινές ὑπέλαβον, ὅτι ἑτέραν ἐπιστολὴν γέγραφεν. See under Ephesians 1:12. Such is the view of the great body of interpreters. The apostle refers to what he had now written in the preceding paragraph-from Ephesians 3:13 to the end of the second chapter-and apparently not, as Alford says, to Ephesians 1:9; nor, as Ellicott says, to the fact contained in the immediately preceding clause.
And he had written ἐν ὀλίγῳ-in brevi (Vulgate), “in brief”-in a few words. See Kypke, Observat. ii. p. 293, in which examples are given from Herodotus, Thucydides, and Aristotle. Theodoret-followed by Erasmus, Camerarius, Calvin, Grotius, Estius, Koppe, Baumgarten-Crusius, and many others-proposes that ἐν ὀλίγῳ should be taken as explanatory of the προ- in προέγραψα, and that the phrase signifies νῦν, or paulo ante. Bodius conveniently combines both views. But such a construction cannot be admitted; to express such an idea πρὸ ὀλίγου would have been employed. And the apostle has not intimated simply that such a mystery was disclosed to him, but that he has also noted down the results or contents of the disclosure, and for this purpose-
(Ephesians 3:4.) πρὸς ὅ. πρὸς ὅ cannot be identified, as Theophylact does, with ἐξ ὧν. It may mean, as Harless and de Wette translate, “in consequence of which;” or, as in our version, “whereby.” We question, however, whether this meaning can be sustained. It may be the ultimate, but it is not the immediate sense. Its more usual signification—“in reference to which”-is as appropriate. Winer, § 49, h. Such is also the rendering of Peile—“referring to which.” Herodot. 3.52; Jelf, § 638; Matthiae, § 591; Bernhardy, p. 265; Vigerus, De Idiotismis, ii. p. 694, London, 1824. The reference is subjective—“as I have already written in brief, in reference to which portion-‘tanquam ad specimen,’ when ye read it, ye may understand my knowledge.” In the phrase πρὸς ὅ, the apostle quietly claims their special attention to the passage on which such notoriety is bestowed, and adds-
δύνασθε ἀναγινώσκοντες νοῆσαι τὴν σύνεσίν μου ἐν τῷ μυστηρίῳ τοῦ χριστοῦ—“you can while reading perceive my insight in the mystery of Christ.” When this epistle reached them it was presumed that they would read it; and as they read it, they would feel their competence. The present participle expresses contemporaneous action-the reading being parallel in time to the perception; though the latter is expressed by the aorist infinitive, which form, according to Donaldson, “describes a single act either as the completion or as the commencement of a continuity.” Greek Gram. § 427, d. If this be supposed to be too refined, it may be added that several verbs, as δύναμαι, are in Greek idiom followed by the aorist rather than the present. Winer, § 44, 7. The verb νοῆσαι means to perceive-come to the knowledge of-to mark; whereas σύνεσις is intelligence or insight, and does not require the repetition of the article before ἐν τῷ μυστηρίῳ, as one idea is conveyed. Joshua 1:7; 2 Chronicles 34:12; Daniel 1:17; Daniel 3 Esdr. Ephesians 1:3. Winer, § 20, 2; Tittmann's Synon. p. 191. If ye read what I have written, ye shall perceive what grasp I have of the mystery; and my knowledge of it is based on immediate revelation. True, the apostle had written but briefly, yet these hints were the index of a fuller familiarity with the theme. The genitive, τοῦ χριστοῦ, is probably that of object. Ellicott, following Stier, inclines to make it that of material or identity, which appea rs too refined and strained-Colossians 1:27 not being exactly parallel, but being a subjective phase of the same great truth. But why should the apostle solemnly profess such knowledge of the mystery? We can scarcely suppose, with Olshausen, Harless, and de Wette, that Paul had in his eye other persons who were strangers to him, or who were hostile to his claims; nor can we imagine, with Wiggers, that he wrote to the Ephesians as representatives of the heathen world. Stud. und Kritik. p. 433; 1841. It could be no vulgar self-assertion that prompted the reference. Possibly he was afraid of coming evils from Judaizing teachers and haughty zealots, and therefore, having illustrated the equality of Gentile privilege, he next vindicates it by the solemn interposition of his apostolical authority.
(Ephesians 3:5.) ῝ο ἑτέραις γενεαῖς οὐκ ἐγνωρίσθη τοῖς υἱοῖς τῶν ἀνθρώπων—“Which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men.” The antecedent to ὅ is μυστήριον, the relative forming a frequent link of connection. The ἐν which is found in the Received Text is condemned by the evidence of MSS., such as A, C, D, E, F, G, I, K. The dative as a designation of the time in which an action took place may stand by itself without a preposition, as in Ephesians 2:12, though in poetry the preposition is frequently prefixed. Kühner, § 569; Stuart, § 106; Winer, § 31, 9. According to some, γενεαῖς is a species of ablative, with an ellipse of the preposition, and, as usually happens in such a case, MSS. vary in their readings. Bos, Ellipses Graecae, ed. Schaefer, p. 437. γενεά, corresponding to the Hebrew דּוֹר, H1887, signifies here the time occupied by a generation-an age measured by the average length of human life. Acts 14:16; Acts 15:21; Colossians 1:26. There is no reason to adopt the opinion of Meyer and Hodge, and take the term to signify men, having, in epexegetical apposition with it, the phrase τοῖς υἱοῖς τῶν ἀνθρώπων. Such a construction is clumsy, and it is far better to give the two datives a differential signification. The formula ἑτέραι γενεαί, so used with the past tense, refers to past ages, and stands in contrast with νῦν.
That the phrase “sons of men” should, as Bengel supposes, mean the prophets of the Old Testament, is wholly out of the question. Ezekiel was often named בֶּןאּאָדָם—“son of man,” but the prophets never as a body received the cognomen “sons of men.” We can scarcely say, with Harless, Matthies, and Stier, that there is studied emphasis in the words, as if to bring out the need which such generations had of this knowledge, since they were men sprung of men, and were in want of that Spirit so plentifully conferred in these recent times. Mark 3:28, compared with Matthew 12:31. The words so familiar to a Hebrew ear, seem to have been suggested by the γενεά to the apostolic mind. As age after age passed away, successive generations of mortal men appeared. Sons succeeded fathers, and their sons succeeded them; so that by “sons of men” is signified the successive band of contemporaries whose lives measured these fleeting γενεαί. The meaning of the apostle, however, is not that the mystery was unknown to all men, for it was known to a few; but he intends to say, that in the minds of men generally it did not possess that prominence and clearness which it did in apostolic times. And he fills up the contrast, thus-
ὡς νῦν ἀπεκαλύφθη τοῖς ἁγίοις ἀποστόλοις αὐτοῦ—“as it has been now revealed to His holy apostles.” The aorist is connected with νῦν-a connection possible in Greek, but impossible in English. Revelation is the mode by which the apostles gained an insight into the mystery which in previous ages had not been divulged. Bengel says-notificatio per revelationem est fons notificationis per praeconium. The points of comparison introduced by ὡς are various:-1. In point of time- νῦν. Only since the advent of Jesus has the shadow been dispelled. 2. In breadth of communication. The apostle speaks of the general intimation which the ancient world had of the mystery, and compares it with those full and exact conceptions of it which these recent revelations by the Spirit had imparted. 3. In medium and object. The “sons of men” are opposed to holy apostles and prophets. The apostle's meaning fully brought out is-As it has been now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, and by them made known to the present age. If the mystery needed to be revealed by the Spirit, and to minds of such preparation and susceptibility as those of apostles and prophets; if its disclosure required such supernatural influence and such a selected class of recipients-then it is plain that very inadequate and glimmering notions of it must have been entertained by past generations. The “prophets” have been described under Ephesians 2:20, and “apostles and prophets” will be more fully illustrated under Ephesians 4:11. The epithet ἅγιοι is unusual in this application, though it is given to the old prophets. 2 Kings 4:9; Luke 1:70; 2 Peter 1:21. The term has been explained under Ephesians 1:1, and in this place its sense is brought out by the following αὐτοῦ. They were His in a special sense, selected, endowed, commissioned, inspired, sus tained, and acknowledged by Him, and so they were “holy.” Not only were they so officially, but their character was in harmony with their awful functions. They were not indeed holier than others; no such comparison is intended. The Ephesian church was “holy” as well as the apostles; but they are called holy in this special sense and in their collective capacity, from the nearness and peculiarity of their relation to God. The Jewish people were a “holy nation,” but on the “forefront of the mitre” of the high priest, of him who stood within the vail and before the mercy-seat, there was a golden plate with the significant inscription—“HOLINESS TO JEHOVAH.”
καὶ προφήταις ἐν πνεύματι—“and prophets in the Spirit.” Lachmann, followed by Bisping, places a comma after ἁγίοις, and regards the next words as in apposition. πνεῦμα has not the article. See under Ephesians 1:17; see also under Ephesians 2:22. Ambrosiaster and Erasmus connect ἐν πνεύματι with the following verse, a supposition which the structure of the succeeding sentence forbids; and Meier joins the same phrase to ἁγίοις, as if ἐν πνεύματι explained the term-a hypothesis which is also set aside by the order of the words. The majority of expositors, from Jerome and Anselm to Stier and Conybeare, join the words to the previous verb—“revealed in” or “by the Spirit.” The clause will certainly bear this interpretation, and the sense is apparent. Winer, § 20, 4. But the phraseology is peculiar. Peile translates—“apostles and inspired interpreters,” but he erroneously thinks that prophets and apostles are the same. See under Ephesians 2:20. It might be said that the pronoun seems to qualify ἀποστόλοις- τοῖς ἁγίοις ἀποστόλοις αὐτοῦ-to His holy apostles, while the prophets have no distinctive character given them, unless it be by the words ἐν πνεύματι, for they were prophets, and had become so, or had a right to the title, ἐν πνεύματι. 2 Peter 1:21. This interpretation was before the mind of Chrysostom, though he did not adopt it, and Koppe and Holzhausen have formally maintained it. The construction would then resemble that of the same formula in the last verse of the preceding chapter. Similar construction is found Romans 8:9; Romans 14:17; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Colossians 1:8; Revelation 1:10. The epithet is not superfluous, as these men became prophets only “in the Spirit.” The apostles themselves stand in the room of the Old Testament prophets, and their possession of the Spirit was a promi nent and functional distinction. But the prophets so called under the New Testament were not to be undervalued; they, too, were “in the Spirit.” De Wette objects that such an epithet for the prophets would be too distinctive. But why so? The apostles were God's- αὐτοῦ-in a special sense, and they were ἅγιοι in consequence. But Paul does not give the “prophets” either one or other of these lofty designations. The apostles had high office and prerogatives, but the possession of the Spirit was the solitary distinction of the prophets, and by it the sacred writer seems to characterize them. At the same time, the ordinary construction of ἐν πνεύματι with the verb gives so good a meaning, that we could not justify ourselves in departing from it.
The general sense of the verse is evident. The apostle does not seem to deny all knowledge of the mystery to the ancient world, but he only compares their knowledge of it, which at best was a species of perplexed clairvoyance, with the fuller revelation of its terms and contents given to modern apostles and prophets; or as Theodoret contrasts it- οὐ γὰρ τὰ πράγματα εἶδον, ἀλλὰ τοὺς περὶ τῶν πραγμάτων προέγραψαν λόγους. In Vetere Testamento Novum latet, et in Novo Vetus patet. The scholium in Matthiae—“that the men of old knew that the Gentiles should be called, but not that they should be fellow-heirs,” contains a distinction too acute and refined. The intimations in the Old Testament of the calling of the Gentiles are frequent, but not full; disclosing the fact, but keeping the method in shade. The apostle James refers to this in Acts 15:14. But after the death of Christ, which, by its repeal of the ceremonial code, was the grand means of Judaeo-Gentile union, a church, without reference to race, was fully organized. The salvation of guilty men of all races became a distinctive feature of the gospel, and therefore the incorporation of non-Israel into the church, revealed to Peter and Paul by the Spirit, was more clearly understood from the results of daily experience and the fruits of missionary enterprise. Acts 11:17-18; Acts 15:7; Acts 15:13.
(Ephesians 3:6.) This verse explains the mystery. The infinitive εἶναι contains the idea of design if viewed from one point, and of fact if viewed from another-the purpose seen or realized in the purport or contents. It does not depend upon the last verse, but unfolds the unimagined contents of the revelation-
εἶναι τὰ ἔθνη συγκληρονόμα—“that the Gentiles are fellow-heirs.” Romans 8:17. Remarks have been made on the κληρονομία, under Ephesians 1:14; Ephesians 1:18. The Gentiles were to be co-heirs with the believing Jews, without modification or diminution of privilege. Their heirship was based on the same charter, and referred to the same inheritance. Nor, though that heirship was very recent in date, were they only residuary legatees, bound to be content with any contingent remainder that satiated Israel might happen to leave. No; they inherited equally with the earlier sons. Theirs was neither an uncertain nor a minor portion. And not only were they joint-heirs, but even-
καὶ σύνσωμα—“and of the same body,”-concorporales-a more intimate union still. The form of spelling σύνσωμα is found in A, B1, D, E, F, G. The Gentiles were of the same body-not attached like an excrescence, not incorporated like a foreign substance, but concorporated so that the additional were not to be distinguished from the original members in such a perfect amalgamation. The body is the one church under the one Head, and believing Jew and Gentile form that one body, without schism or the detection of national variety or of previous condition. Thus Theophylact- ἓν γὰρ σῶμα γεγόνασιν οἱ ἐθνικοὶ πρὸς τοὺς ᾿ισραηλίτας μιᾷ κεφαλῇ ἐν χριστῷ συγκρατούμενοι. Comp. Ephesians 2:16. Still further-
καὶ συνμέτοχα τῆς ἐπαγγελίας—“and fellow-partakers of the promise.” The pronoun αὐτοῦ of the Received Text is not found in the more important MSS. and versions, and is rejected by Lachmann and Tischendorf, though it occurs in D2, D3, E, F, G, K, L. The spelling συνμέτοχα is found in A, B1, C, D1, F, G. It has been thought by many to be too narrow a view to restrict the promise to the Holy Spirit. But many things favour such an opinion. He is the prominent gift or promise of the new covenant, as Paul hints in his comprehensive question, Galatians 3:2; while again, in Ephesians 3:14 of the same chapter, he adds, as descriptive of the blessing of Abraham coming on the Gentiles—“that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Joel 2:28-29. Peter, vindicating his mission to Cornelius, refers also as a conclusive demonstration of its heavenly origin to the fact, that “the Holy Ghost fell on them as on us.” He repeats the same evidence on another occasion. Acts 15:8. The promise is here singled out by the article; and in the mind of the apostle, who had already referred to the Holy Ghost under a similar designation and in connection with the inheritance (Ephesians 1:13), the one grand distinctive and dispensational promise was that of the Spirit. And if the αὐτοῦ be spurious, the naked emphasis laid on the term itself shows that to Paul it had a simple, well-known, and unmistakeable meaning. Ellicott says that this view is scarcely consonant with συγκληρονόμα-fellow-heirs. But the theology of the apostle shows the perfect consonance. Romans 8:14-17. They alone are heirs who are sons, and they alone are sons who are led by the Spirit of God. Then is added-
ἐν χριστῷ ᾿ιησοῦ-in Christ Jesus-as A, B, C, followed by the Coptic and Vulgate, read. We would not, with Vatablus, Koppe, Meier, Holzhausen, and Baumgarten-Crusius, restrict ἐν χριστῷ ᾿ιησοῦ to the preceding noun ἐπαγγελία—“promise in Christ”-for then we might have expected a repetition of the article; but, with the majority of critics, we regard it as a qualifying the whole three adjectives, as the inner sphere of union, while the medium or instrumental cause is next stated-
διὰ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου-not, as Locke translates, “in the time of the gospel;” but “by means of the gospel.” The prepositions ἐν and διά stand in a similar relation, as in Ephesians 1:7. “In Christ,” were the Gentiles co-heirs, co-incorporated, and co-partakers of the promise with believing Israel, enjoying union in Him, “through that gospel” which was preached to them; for its object was to proclaim Christ—“our peace.”
How, then, do the three epithets stand connected? There seems to be no climax, as Jerome, Pelagius, and Baumgarten-Crusius suppose; nor an anticlimax, as is the opinion of Zanchius: yet we cannot adopt the idea of Valpy and others, that the series of terms is loosely thrown together without discrimination. We apprehend that the apostle employs the three terms, in the fulness of his heart, at once to magnify the mystery, and to prevent mistake. The συν- is thrice repeated, and σύνσωμα and συνμέτοχα, are terms coined for the occasion, though the verb συμμετέχω occurs in classic Greek, as in Euripides, Supp. 648- συμμετασχόντες; Xenophon, Anabasis, 7.8, 17; Plat. Theaet., Opera, vol. iii. p. 495, ed. Bekker. The Gentiles are fellow-heirs. But such a fellowship might be external to a great extent-Esau might inherit though he severed himself from Jacob's society. The apostle intensifies his meaning, and declares that they are not only fellow-heirs, but of the same body-the closest union; not like Abraham's sons by Keturah, each of whom received his portion and his dismissal in the same act. But while they might be co-heirs, and embodied in one personality, might there not be a difference in the amount of blessing enjoyed and promised? Or with sameness of right, might there not be diversity of gift? Will the Israelite have no higher donation as a memento o f his descent, and a tribute of honour to his ancestral glories? No; the Gentiles are also fellow-partakers of that one promise. By this means the apostle shows the amount of Gentile privilege which comes to them in Christ, not by submission to the law, as so many had fondly imagined, but by the gospel. The next verse shows his relation to that gospel-
(Ephesians 3:7.) οὗ ἐγενήθην διάκονος—“of which I became a minister.” Colossians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 3:6. This reading is supported by A, B, D1, F, G while ἐγενόμην is used in C, D3, E, K, L. The use of the passive might show that he had no concurrence in the act. But Buttmann says that ἐγενήθην is used in Doric for ἐγενόμην, γίγνεσθαι being in that dialect a deponent passive. Phryn. ed. Lobeck, pp. 108, 109. διάκονος (not, as often said, from διά and κόνις—“one covered with dust,” but from an old root- διάκω-signifying “I hasten”) is a servant in a general sense, and in relation to a master, as in 2 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Corinthians 11:23; 1 Timothy 4:6. Buttmann has shown that the preposition διά cannot enter into the composition of διάκονος, as the a is long. The a in διά may, from the necessities of metre, be sometimes long in poetry, but never in prose; while the Ionic form of the word under review is διήκονος. Lexilogus, sub voce διάκτορος. As an apostle he did not merely enjoy the dignity of office, or the admiration created by the display of miraculous gifts. He busied himself; he served with eager cordiality and unwearied zeal-
κατὰ τὴν δωρεὰν τῆς χάριτος τοῦ θεοῦ τὴν δοθεῖσάν μοι—“according to the gift of the grace of God which was given to me.” δωρεά is the gift, and χάρις is that of which the gift is composed (Ephesians 2:8), the genitive being that of apposition Instead of τὴν δοθεῖσαν in the next clause of the Received Text, some modern editors read- τῆς δοθεῖσης, which has the authority of the old MSS. A, B, C, D1, F, G, but which may be borrowed from Ephesians 3:2. The Syriac and the Greek fathers are in favour of the first reading, which is retained by Tischendorf, being found in D3, E, K, L. The sense is not affected—“The gift made up of this grace is given, or the grace of which the gift consists is given.” The χάρις is not the gift of tongues, as Grotius dreams; nor specially the Holy Ghost, as a-Lapide imagines. The term, resembling that of the Latin munus, refers not to the apostolical office conferred out of the pure and sovereign favour of God, as in Ephesians 3:2 of this chapter, but it refers here to that office in its characteristic function of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. It was given-
κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργειαν τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ—“according to the working of His power.” κατά refers us to δοθεῖσαν. The gift of grace is conferred in accordance with the working of His power. See Ephesians 1:19. ᾿ενέργεια and δύναμις are explained under Ephesians 1:19. Whitby unnecessarily and falsely restricts this power to that of miraculous agency conferred upon the apostle. But he refers in this place to the “grace” which originated his apostleship, wrought mightily in him when the office of the apostle of heathendom, with all its varied qualifications, was conferred upon him. Unworthy of it he was; and had not the gift been accompanied by a striking manifestation of God's power, he could not have enjoyed it. And he served in harmony with his office- κατὰ τὴν δωρεάν; and that office was conferred upon him in unison with- κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργειαν-such a spiritual change, induced by the Divine might, as changed a Jew into a Christian, a blasphemer into a saint, a Pharisee into an apostle, and a persecutor into a missionary. Calvin remarks-haec est potentiae ejus efficacia ex nihilo grande aliquid efficere. Chrysostom says truly—“The gift would not have been enough, if it had not implanted within him the power.” That grace was bestowed very freely- ἡ δωρεὰ τῆς χάριτος; and that power wrought very effectually- ἡ ἐνέργεια τῆς δυνάμεως. Galatians 2:8. The apostle becomes more minute-
(Ephesians 3:8.) ᾿εμοὶ τῷ ἐλαχιστοτέρῳ πάντων ἁγίων—“To me, who am less than the least of all saints.” There is no good reason adduced by Harless for making the first clause of this verse a parenthesis, and joining ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν to the δωρεάν of the preceding verse. The apostle prolongs the thought, and dwells upon it. He was a minister of the gospel through the gracious power of God. This reflection ever produced within him profound wonder and humility; and though in one sense he was greater than the greatest of all saints, yet the consciousness of his own demerit stood out in such striking contrast with the high function to which he had been called, that he exclaims—“To me, who am less than the least of all saints”- ἐμοί being emphatic from its position. ᾿ελαχιστοτέρῳ is a comparative, founded on the superlative ἐλάχιστος—“less than the least;” a form designed to express the deepest self-abasement. Similar anomalous forms occur in the later Greek, and even occasionally in the earlier, especially among the poets. 3 John 1:4; Phryn. ed. Lobeck, p. 135. Wetstein has collected a few examples. ᾿ελαχιστότατος is found in Sextus Empir. ix. p. 627. The English term “lesser” is akin. Matthiae, § 136; Winer, § 11, 2; Buttmann, § 69, note 3. πάντες ἅγιοι are not the apostles and prophets merely, but saints generally. Theophylact says justly- καλεῖ οὐ τῶν ἀποστόλων, ἀλλὰ πάντων τῶν ἁγίων, τουτέστι τῶν πιστῶν. In 1 Corinthians 15:9, where he says, “I am the least of the apostles,” he brings himself into direct contrast with his ministerial colleagues. 1 Timothy 1:13; Philippians 3:6. To him-
ἐδόθη ἡ χάρις αὕτη—“was this grace given.” χάρις, in this aspect, has been already explained both under Ephesians 3:2; Ephesians 3:7. That special branch of the apostolate which was entrusted to Paul had the following end in view-
ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν εὐαγγελίσασθαι—“to preach among the Gentiles.” Lachmann omits ἐν, following A, B, C, and so does Alford. But the majority of MSS., and the Syriac, Vulgate, and Gothic versions have the preposition. The phrase ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, emphatic from its position, describes the special or characteristic sphere of the apostle's labours. The apostle, however, never forgot his own countrymen. His love to his nation was not interdicted by his special vocation as a missionary to the heathen world. And the staple of that good news which he proclaimed was-
τὸ ἀνεξιχνίαστον πλοῦτος τοῦ χριστοῦ—“the unsearchable riches of Christ.” πλοῦτος is rightly read in the neuter. See under Ephesians 1:7 and Ephesians 2:7. The adjective occurs in Romans 11:33, and has its origin in the Septuagint, where it represents the Hebrew formula- אין־ֵחקֶר¢, ֵ in Job 5:9; Job 9:10 -and לאאּ־ֵחקֶרø, in Job 34:24. The riches of Christ are not simply “riches of grace”—“riches of glory”—“riches of inheritance,” as Pelagius, Grotius, and Koppe are inclined to restrict them, but that treasury of spiritual blessing which is Christ's-so vast that the comprehension of its limits and the exhaustion of its contents are alike impossible. What the apostle wishes to characterize as grand in itself, or in its abundance, adaptation, and substantial permanence, he terms “riches.” The riches of Christ are the true wealth of men and nations. And those riches are “unsearchable.” Even the value of the portion already possessed cannot be told by any symbols of numeration, for such riches can have no adequate exponent or representative. Their source was in eternity, and in a love whose fervour and origin are above our ken, and whose duration shall be for ages of ages beyond compute. Their extent is boundless, and the mode in which they have been wrought out reveals a spiritual process whose results astonish and satisfy us, but whose inner springs and movements lie beyond our keenest inspection. And our appropriation of those riches, though it be a matter of consciousness, shrouds itself from our scrutiny, for it indicates the presence of the Divine Spirit in His power-a power exerted upon man, beyond resistance, but without compulsion; and in its mighty and gracious operation neither wounding his moral freedom nor impinging on his perfect and undeniable responsibility. The latest periods of time shall find these riches unimpaired, and eternity shall behold the same wealth neither worn by use nor dimmed by age, nor yet diminished by the myriads of its happy participants. Still further-
(Ephesians 3:9.) καὶ φωτίσαι πάντας—“And to make all men see.” Lachmann has assigned no valid reason for throwing suspicion upon πάντας. To restrict the meaning of the adjective to the heathen, as Meyer and Baumgarten-Crusius do, is without any warrant, though πάντας is not emphatic in position. We lay no stress on the fact that πάντας and ἔθνη do not agree in gender, for such a form of concord is not uncommon, and a separate idea is also introduced. The apostle preached to the Gentiles “the unsearchable riches of Christ,” but in his discharge of this duty he taught not Gentiles only, but all-Jew and Gentile alike - what is the dispensation of the mystery. The verb φωτίζω, followed by the accusative of the thing, denotes to bring it into light; but followed by the accusative of the person, it signifies to throw light upon him-not only to teach, διδάξαι, but to enlighten inwardly-to give spiritual apprehension- φωτίσαι. See under Ephesians 1:18. If one gaze upon a landscape as the rising sun strikes successive points, and brings them into view in every variety of tint and shade, both subjective and objective illumination is enjoyed. No wonder that in so many languages light is the emblem of knowledge. That mystery which was now placed in clear light was not discerned by the Jew, and could not have been perceived by the Gentile for the shadow which lay both on him and it. But the result of Paul's mission was, that the Jew at once saw it, and the Gentile plainly understood its scope. They were enlightened-were enabled to make a sudden discovery by the lucid and full demonstration set before them. The point on which they were instructed was this-
τίς ἡ οἰκονομία τοῦ μυστηρίου—“what is the economy of the mystery.” That οἰκονομία should supersede the gloss κοινωνία of the Elzevir text is established by the concurrent authority of A, B, C, D, E, F, G, J, supported by a host of the Fathers and by the early versions. The preaching of Paul enabled all to see “what is the arrangement or organization of that mystery which, from the beginning of the world, had been hid in God.” The terms οἰκονομία and μυστήριον have been already explained Ephesians 1:9-10, and Ephesians 3:2-3. The mystery must be the same as that described in Ephesians 3:6, for the same course of thought is still pursued, and varied only by the repetition. That mystery now so open had been long sealed-
τοῦ ἀποκεκρυμμένου ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων ἐν τῷ θεῷ—“which from of old has been hid in God.” Colossians 1:26; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Romans 16:25. ᾿απὸ τῶν αἰώνων—“from the ages in a temporal sense;” not concealed from the ages, in the sense of Macknight, but hid from of old; not, perhaps, strictly from before all time, but since the commencement of time up to the period of the apostle's commission. During this interval of four thousand years God's purpose to found a religion of universal offer, adaptation, and enjoyment, lay unrevealed in His own bosom. Glimpses of that sublime purpose might be occasionally caught, but no open or formal organization of it was made. There were hints and pre-intimations, oracles that spoke sometimes in cautious, and sometimes in bolder phrase; but till the death of Jesus, the means were not provided by which Judaism should be superseded and a world-wide system introduced. Then the Divine Hierophant disclosed the mystery, after His Son had offered an atonement whose saving value had no national restrictions, and acknowledged no ethnographical impediment, and when He poured out His Spirit on believing Gentiles, and commissioned Saul of Tarsus to go far from Palestine and reclaim the heathen outcasts. In God-
τῷ τὰ πάντα κτίσαντι—“who created all things.” The additional words διὰ ᾿ιησοῦ χριστοῦ of the Received Text are at least doubtful, and are omitted by recent editors. They are not found in the Codices A, B, C, D1, F, G, nor in the Syriac, Vulgate, and Coptic versions, nor in the quotations of the Latin fathers. They occur, however, in the Greek fathers, such as Chrysostom, Theophylact, and OEcumenius. The emphasis lies on τὰ πάντα, but the meaning of κτίσαντι has been much disputed:-1. Chrysostom, guided by the words which he admitted into the text, διὰ ᾿ιησοῦ χριστοῦ-explains thus—“He who created all things by Him, revealeth also this by Him.” But if the phrase διὰ ᾿ιησοῦ χριστοῦ be spurious, this interpretation, if it can be called one, is at once set aside. 2. Olshausen says, that the term is employed to show that the institution of redemption is a creative act of God, and could proceed from Him alone who created all things. The view of von Gerlach is similar. Argumentum est, says Zanchius, a creatione ad recreationem. Bengel suggests this idea-Rerum omnium creatio fundamentum est omnis reliquae oeconomiae. But this exposition is not in harmony with the course of thought. It is of the concealment of a mystery in God the universal Creator that Paul speaks, not of the actual provision of salvation for men. 3. Many understand the reference to be to the spiritual creation, such as Calvin, Zanchius, Calixtus, Grotius, Usteri, Meier, and Baumgarten-Crusius. The deletion of the words “by Jesus Christ,” and the want of some other qualifying term, militates against this view. In Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 2:15, and in Ephesians 4:24, there are accompanying phrases which leave no doubt as to the meaning. But the aorist, and the occurrence of the term here without any explanatory adjunct, seem to prove that it must bear its most usual and simple signification. 4. Beza, Piscator, Flatt, and others, refer τὰ πάντα to men, abridging by this tame exegesis the limitless meaning of the terms.
The real question is, What is meant by this allusion to the creation-what is the relation between the creative work of God and the concealment of this mystery in Himself? Had the apostle said-hid in God who arranges all things, or foresees all things, the meaning would have been apparent. But it is not so easy to perceive the connection between creation and the seclusion of a mystery. The fact that God created all things cannot, as in Rückert's suggestion, afford any reason why he concealed a portion of his plan; nor can we discover, with others, that the additional clause is meant to show the sovereign freeness and power of God in such concealment. Our own view may be thus expressed: The period during which the mystery was hid dates from the ages commencing with creation, for creation built up the platform on which the strange mystery of redemption was disclosed. God, as Creator of the universe, has of necessity a plan according to which all arrangements take place, for creation implies providence or government-the gradual evolution of counsels which had lain folded up with unfathomable secrecy. But those counsels are not disclosed with simultaneous and confusing haste: the Almighty Mind retains them in itself till the fitting period when they may be unveiled. Now, the mystery of the inbringing of the Gentiles was secreted in the Divine bosom for four thousand years, that is, from the epoch of the creation-the origin of time. And it has not come to light by accident, but by a prearranged determination. When God created the world, it was a portion of His plan as its Creator that the Gentile nations, after the call of Abraham, should be without the pale of His visible church; but that after His Son died, and the gospel with universal adaptations was established, they should be admitted into covenant. At the fittest time, not prematurely, but with leisurely exactness, were created both the human materials on which redemption was to work, and that peculiar and varied mechanism by which its designs were to be accomplished. And one grand purpose is declared to be-
(Ephesians 3:10.) ῞ινα γνωρισθῇ νῦν—“In order that there might now be made known.” ῞ινα γνωρισθῇ stands connected as a climax with εὐαγγελίσασθαι of Ephesians 3:8, and φωτίσαι of Ephesians 3:9. νῦν is opposed to ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων. We cannot here regard ἵνα as ecbatic in sense, though this signification has been accepted by Bodius, Estius, Meier, Holzhausen, and Thomas Aquinas, who takes the particle-consecutive, non causaliter. We prefer to give ἵνα its usual sense—“in order that.” It indicates a final purpose; not the grand object, but still an important though minor design. We cannot, however, accede to the opinion of Harless, who connects this verse solely with the clause immediately preceding it. His idea is, that God created all things for the purpose of showing by the church His wisdom to the angelic hosts. We regard such an exegesis as limiting the reference of the apostle. This verse, commencing with ἵνα, winds up, as we think, the entire preceding paragraph, and discloses a grand reason for God's method of procedure. Nor is the notion of Harless tenable on other grounds; because the wisdom of God in creation is made known to the heavenly hierarchy, apart altogether from the church, and has been revealed to them, not simply now and for the first time, but ever since “the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” Why then, too, should the church be selected as the medium of manifestation? And why should wisdom be singled out as the only attribute which creation exhibits by the church to the higher intelligences? But when we look at the contents of the paragraph, the meaning is apparent. The apostle speaks of a mystery-a mystery long hid, and at length disclosed-a mystery connected with the enlargement and glory of the church-and he adds, this long concealment from other ages, yea, from the beginning of the world, and this present revelation, have for their object to instruct the celestial ranks in God's multiform wisdom. It is the attribute of wisdom which binds itself up with the hiding and the opening of a mystery, and as that wisdom concerns the organization and extension of the church, the church naturally becomes the scene of instruction to celestial spectators. On the connection of Divine wisdom with the disclosure of a mystery, some remarks may be seen under Ephesians 1:8-9—“God in all wisdom and prudence made known to us the mystery of His will.” That mystery being now disclosed, the princedoms and powers were instructed. In itself, in its concealment, and in the time, place, method, and results of its disclosure, it now exhibited the Divine wisdom in a novel and striking light-
ταῖς ἀρχαῖς καὶ ταῖς ἐξουσίαις ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις—“to the principalities and the powers in heavenly places”-the article being prefixed to each noun, and giving prominence to each in the statement. These terms have been explained under Ephesians 1:21, and the following phrase- ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις, which designates abode or locality, has been considered under Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 1:20, Ephesians 2:6. The following hypotheses are the whimsical devices of erratic ingenuity, viz.: that such principalities and powers are, as is the opinion of Zornius, Locke, and Schoettgen, the leaders and chiefs of the Jewish nation; or, as Van Til imagined, heathen magistrates; or, as Zegerus dreamed, worldly dignities; or, as is held by Pelagius, the rulers of the Christian church. Nor can these principalities and powers be good and bad angels alike, as Bengel, Olshausen, and Hofmann (Schriftb. i. pp. 360-362) hold: nor can they be wholly impure fiends, as is supposed by Ambrosiaster and Vatablus. As little can we say, with Matthies, that these principalities “dwell on the earth, and disport on it in an invisible spiritual form, and are taught by the foundation and extension of the church their own weakness.” Nor can we agree with the opinion of Van Til, Knatchbull, and Baumgarten, that the words ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις signify “in heavenly things,” and are to be connected with γνωρισθῇ, so as to mean, that the principalities and powers are instructed by the church in celestial themes. And the lesson is given-
διὰ τῆς ἐκκλησίας—“by the church”-the community of the faithful in Christ being the instructress of angels in heaven. That lesson is-
ἡ πολυποίκιλος σοφία τοῦ θεοῦ—“the manifold wisdom of God.” The adjective, one of the very numerous compounds of πολύς, occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. But it occurs in a fragment of Eubulus, Athen. 15.7, applied to the manifold hues of a garland of flowers- στέφανον πολυποίκιλον ἀνθέων; and in Euripides, Iphig. Taur. 1149, it describes the variegated colours of a robe- πολυποίκιλα φάρεα; while in a figurative sense it is joined in the Orphic Hymns to the nouns τελετή and λόγος, 5:11, 60:4. The term, as Chrysostom notes, is not simply “varied,” but “much varied.” The wisdom described by the remarkable epithet is not merely deep or great wisdom, but wisdom illustrious for its very numerous forms, and for the strange diversity yet perfect harmony of its myriads of aspects and methods of operation.
Such is generally the meaning of the verse, but its specific reference is not so easily ascertained. What peculiar manifestation of Divine wisdom is referred to? We cannot vaguely say that it is God's wisdom in the general plan of redemption, or, as Olshausen remarks, “the marvellous procedure of God in the pardon of the sinner, and the settlement in him of the antagonism between righteousness and grace.” Such an idea is scarcely in keeping with the context, which speaks not of the general scheme of mercy, but of one of its distinctive and modern aspects. Nor is the view of some of the Greek fathers more in unison with the spirit of the paragraph. Gregory of Nyssa, whose opinion has been preserved by Theophylact and OEcumenius, thus illustrates—“That the angels prior to the incarnation had seen the Divine wisdom in a simple form without variation; but now they see it in a composite form, working by contraries, educing life from death, glory from shame, trophies from the cross, and God-becoming things from all that was vile and ignoble.” The leading idea in this opinion does not fully develop the apostle's meaning as contained in the paragraph; nor could wisdom, acting simply and uniformly in this method, be denominated “manifold wisdom,” though it might be deep, benignant, and powerful skill. The idea brought out in the interpretations of Cocceius, Zanchius, Grotius, and Harless, to wit, that reference is had to the modes and series of past Divine revelations, approximates the truth, and Meyer and Calvin are right in attempting to find the meaning within the bounds of the preceding section. The wisdom is connected with the mystery and its opening, and that mystery is the introduction of the Gentiles into the kingdom of God. Once the world at large was in enjoyment of oracle and sacrifice without distinction and tribe, and Melchisedec, a Hamite prince, was “priest of the most high God.” Then one nation was selected, and continued in that solitary enjoyment for two thousand years. But now again the human race, without discrimination, have been reinstated in religious privilege. This last and liberal offer of mercy was a mystery long hid, and it might be cause of wonder why infinite love tarried so long in its schemes. But wisdom is conspicuous in the whole arrangement. Not till Jesus died and ceremonial distinctions were laid aside, was such an unconditional salvation presented to the world. The glory of unrestricted dissemination was postponed till the Redeemer's victory had been won, and His heralds were enabled to proclaim, not the gorgeous symbols of a coming, but the blessed realities of an accomplished redemption; not the types and ceremonial apparatus of Moses, but “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” There was indeed slow progress, but sure development; occasional interruption, but steady advancement. Divine wisdom was manifold, for it never put forth any tentative process, nor was it ever affronted by any abandoned experiment. It was under no necessity of repeating its plans, for it is not feebly confined to a uniform method, while in its omniscient forecast a solitary agency often surrounds itself with various, opposite, and multiplied effects; temporary antagonism issuing in ultimate combination, and apparent intricacy of movement securing final sim plicity of result; antecedent improbability changing into felicitous certainty, and feeble instruments standing out in impressive contrast with the gigantic exploits which they have achieved. Every occurrence is laid under tribute, and hostile influence bows at length in auxiliary homage. “Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness.” Times of forbidding aspect have brightened into propitious opportunities, and “the foolishness of preaching” has proved itself to be the means of the world's regeneration. And the mystery was published not by angels, but by men; not by the prudent and powerful of the world, by those who wore a coronet or had studied in the Portico or the Academy, but by one “whose bodily presence was weak and his speech contemptible”-a stranger to “the enticing words of man's wisdom.” The initiation of the Gentile world was by the preaching of the cross - that instrument of lingering and unspeakable torture; while He that hung upon it, born of a village maiden, and apprenticed as a Galilean mechanic, was condemned to a public execution as the penalty of alleged treason and blasphemy. The church, which is the scene of these preplexing wonders, teaches the angelic hosts. They have seen much of God's working-many a sun lighted up, and many a world launched into its orbit. They have been delighted with the solution of many a problem, and the development of many a mystery. But in the proclamation of the Gospel to the Gentiles, with its strange preparations, various agencies, and stupendous effects-involving the origination and extinction of Judaism, the incarnation and the atonement, the manger and the cross, the spread of the Greek language and the triumph of the Roman arms—“these principalities and powers in heavenly places” beheld with rapture other and brighter phases of a wisdom which had often dazzled them by its brilliant and profuse versatilit y, and surprised and entranced them by the infinite fulness of the love which prompts it, and of the power which itself directs and controls. The events that have transpired in the church on earth are the means of augmenting the information of those pure and exalted beings who encircle the throne of God. 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 Peter 1:12. The entire drama is at length laid bare before them-
“Like some bright river, that from fall to fall
In many a maze descending, bright through all,
Finds some fair region, where, each labyrinth past,
In one full lake of light it rests at last.”
καὶ πῶς κηρύττεις, εἴπερ ὁ πλοῦτος ἀνεξιχνίαστος? asks Theodoret, τοῦτο γὰρ αὐτό, φησι, κηρύττω ὅτι ἀνεξιχνίαστος.
The whole has been arranged-
(Ephesians 3:11.) κατὰ πρόθεσιν τῶν αἰώνων—“according to the eternal purpose.” The connection of these words is not with the adjective or substantive of the preceding clause: neither with πολυποίκιλος, as is supposed by Anselm and Holzhausen, nor with σοφία, as Koppe conjectures; but with γνωρισθῇ. This revelation of God's multifarious wisdom now and by the church has happened according to His eternal purpose - the purpose of ages, or the purpose of those periods which are so distant, as to be to us identical with eternity. Theodoret thus explains it- πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων προέθετο. 1 Corinthians 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:9. On the other hand, Anselm, a-Lapide, Estius, Baumgarten, Schoettgen, and Holzhausen, take the genitive as that of object, and render the clause—“purpose about the ages.” Such is virtually the view of Chandler and Macknight, who make the word “ages” signify the religious dispensations, and regard πρόθεσις as meaning fore-arrangement. The simplest view, and that most in accordance with grammatical usage, is, as we have said, to take the genitive as one of quality-as equivalent to its own adjective αἰώνιος-or of possession, with Ellicott; and such is the opinion of Harless, Olshausen, and Meyer. Winer, § 30, 2. So in Hebrew, צוּרעוֹלָמִים-everlasting strength, Isaiah 26:4. See also Daniel 9:24. It was a purpose-
ἣν ἐποίησεν ἐν τῷ χριστῷ ᾿ιησοῦ τῷ κυρίῳ ἡμῶν—“which He wrought in Christ Jesus our Lord. The article before χριστῷ is doubtful, though Tischendorf inserts it. The antecedent to ἣν is not σοφία, as Theophylact, Jerome, and Luther construe, but πρόθεσις. Two classes of meanings have been attached to ἐποίησεν:-
1. According to Calvin, Beza, Estius, Bengel, Rückert, Meier, Harless, and Baumgarten-Crusius, its meaning is, “Which He made,” that is, “formed in Christ.” The verb is so used Mark 3:6; Mark 15:1, and the idea is scriptural. See Ephesians 1:3. See for one view of the relation of Christ to the Father in such an expression, Hofmann, Schriftb. vol. i. p. 230; and for another, Thomasius, Christi Person, vol. i. p. 453.
2. But in the view of Theodoret, Vatablus, Grotius, Koppe, Matthies, Olshausen, Scholz, Meyer, de Wette, Stier, and Conybeare, it denotes, “Which He executed or fulfilled in Christ Jesus.” This last interpretation is on the whole preferable, for ποιεῖν may bear such a sense, as in Ephesians 2:3; Matthew 21:31; John 6:38; 1 Thessalonians 5:24. Olshausen suggests that Jesus Christ is the historical name, so that the verb refers to the realization of God's decree in Him, and not to the inner act of the Divine will. The words ἐν χριστῷ ᾿ιησοῦ signify not “on account of,” nor “by,” but “in” Christ Jesus, as the sphere or element in which the action of the verb takes effect. The meaning of the three names has been given under Ephesians 1:2, etc. The lessons of manifold wisdom given to principalities and powers, in connection with the introduction of the Gentiles into the church, are not an accidental denouement, nor an undesigned betrayal of a Divine secret on the part of the church. Nor was the disclosure of the mystery forced on God by the power of circumstances, or the pressure of unforeseen necessities, for, in its period and instruments, it was in unison with His own eternal plan, which has been wrought out in Christ-in His incarnation and death, His ascension and glorification. The lesson to the principalities was intended for them; they have not profanely intruded into the sacred precincts, and stolen away the guarded science. In all this procedure, which reveals to princedoms and powers God's manifold wisdom, the Divine eternal plan is consistently and systematically developed in Christ. And, as their own experience tells them, He is the same Christ-
(Ephesians 3:12.) ᾿εν ᾧ ἔχομεν τὴν παῤῥησίαν καὶ τὴν προσαγωγὴν—“In whom we have boldness and access”-the ἐν again connected with Christ as the sphere. Lachmann, following A and B, omits the second article, and there are other but minor variations. παῤῥησία is originally “free speech”-the speaking of all. There is no ground for the opinion of Cardinal Hugo and Peter Lombard, that it means spes-hope. Its secondary and usual signification is boldness-that self-possession which such liberty implies. It cannot mean free-spokenness towards the world, as is erroneously supposed by Olshausen, for such an idea is totally foreign to the train of thought. This boldness is toward God generally, but especially in prayer, as is indicated by the following term προσαγωγή. Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 10:19; Hebrews 10:35; 1 John 2:28; 1 John 3:21-22; 1 John 4:17; 1 John 5:14-15. In Christ we are ever having this blessing-boldness and access at all times and in every emergency. 1 John 2:28; 1 John 4:17. That tremor, doubt, and oppression of spirit which sin produces, are absent from believers when they enjoy access to God. Hebrews 3:6; 1 John 2:28. προσαγωγή has been already explained under Ephesians 2:18. The use of the article before both nouns signalizes them both as the elements of a distinctive and a possessed privilege. And all this-
ἐν πεποιθήσει—“in confidence.” 2 Corinthians 1:15; 2 Corinthians 3:4; 2 Corinthians 8:22; 2 Corinthians 10:2; Philippians 3:4. This summing up is similar to the previous summing up in Ephesians 2:18, as boldness and access in prayer are the highest and conclusive proof-the richest and noblest elements-of spiritual experience. This is a word of the later Greek, and in the New Testament is only used by Paul. Phrynichus, ed. Lobeck, p. 294; Thom. Mag. p. 273. It seems to point out the manner or frame of soul in which the προσαγωγή is enjoyed, and it is involved in the very idea of παῤῥησία. This is no timorous approach. It is not the access of a distracted or indifferent spirit, but one filled with the assurance that it will not be repulsed, or dismissed with unanswered petition, for though unworthy it is not unwelcome. This state has faith for its medium-
διὰ τῆς πίστεως αὐτοῦ—“by the faith of Him;” the genitive being that of object. The genitive is similarly employed, Romans 3:22; Romans 3:26; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 3:9; James 2:1; Revelation 2:13; Revelation 14:12. This clause belongs to the entire verse, and not merely, as some suppose, to πεποίθησις. Faith in Him is the instrument, and ἐν and διά are connected as in Ephesians 1:7. The means by which our union to Christ secures those privileges is faith. That faith whose object is Jesus is the means to all who are Christ's, first, of “boldness,” for their belief in the Divine Mediator gives them courage; secondly, of “access,” for their realization of His glorified humanity warrants and enables them to approach the throne of grace; and, thirdly, these blessings are possessed “in confidence,” for they feel that for Christ's sake their persons and services will be accepted by the Father.
(Ephesians 3:13.) διὸ αἰτοῦμαι μὴ ἐγκακεῖν—“Wherefore I entreat you that ye faint not.” διό—“wherefore,” since these things are so, referring us back to the sentiments of the five preceding verses. Lachmann and Tischendorf, after A, B, D1, E, prefer ἐγκακεῖν to the common reading ἐκκακεῖν, which has in its favour C, D3, F, G, I, K. It is doubtful, indeed, whether there be such a word. With all its apparent simplicity of style and construction, this verse is open to various interpretations. And, first, as to the accusative, which must be supplied before the infinitive, some prefer ἐμέ and others ὑμᾶς. In the former case the meaning is, “Wherefore I desire God that I faint not,” and in the latter case it is, “Wherefore I entreat you that you lose not heart.” The first is that adopted by the Syriac version, by Theodoret, Jerome, Bengel, Vater, Rückert, Harless, Olshausen, and Baumgarten-Crusius. Our objection to such an exposition is, that there is in the clause no formal or implied reference to God; that it is awkward to interpose a new subject, or make the object of the verb and the subject of the infinitive different-2 Corinthians 5:20; 2 Corinthians 6:1; 2 Corinthians 10:2; Hebrews 13:19; and that the apostle possessed little indeed of that faint-heartedness against which he is supposed to guard himself by prayer. Turner's objection to this last statement is only a misconception of it. Besides, as the last clause of the verse is plainly an argument to sustain the request, the connection is destroyed if the apostle be imagined to make petition for himself; while the meaning is clear and pertinent if the request be for them—“Let not my sufferings for you distress you; they are your glory.” The proposal of Harless to join ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν to αἰτοῦμαι—“I pray on your account,” has little to recommend it. Our view is that of Chrysostom and the majority of interpreters. “That ye faint not”-
ἐν ταῖς θλίψεσίν μου ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν—“in my tribulations for you.” No article is needed before ὑπέρ. 2 Corinthians 1:6. ᾿εν is not properly “on account of,” as many render it, but it rather represents the close and sympathizing relation in which Paul and his readers stood. His afflictions had become theirs; they were in them as really as he was. Their sympathy with him had made his afflictions their own, and he implored them not to be dispirited or cowardly under such a pressure, and for this reason-
ἥτις ἐστὶ δόξα ὑμῶν—“which is your glory.” ῞ητις is used by attraction with the following predicate δόξα, and signifies “inasmuch as they are,” utpote quae. Winer, § 24, 3. But what is its antecedent? Theodoret, Zanchius, Harless, and Olshausen suppose it to be the thought contained in μὴ ἐγκακεῖν, as if the apostle's self-support in such sufferings were their glory. This exegesis proceeds upon an opinion which we have already gainsaid, viz., that Paul offers here a prayer for himself. Rückert exhales the meanings of the clause by finding in it only the vague indistinctness of oratorical declamation. The general opinion appears to be the correct one, that these sufferings of Paul, which came on him simply because he was the apostle of the Gentiles, were the “glory” of the Gentile believers, and not their disgrace, inasmuch as such persecutions not only proved the success of his ministerial labours, but were at the same time collateral evidence of the lofty and unfettered privileges which believing heathendom now possessed and retained, and which, by the apostle's firmness, were at length placed beyond the reach of Jewish fanaticism to annul or even to curtail. As you may measure the pyramid by its shadow, so these afflictions of Paul afforded a similar means of arriving at a relative or anti-thetical estimate of the spiritual liberty and prerogative of the Gentile churches. The apostle began the chapter by an allusion to the fact that he was a prisoner for the Gentiles, and he now concludes the digression by this natural admonition. His tribulations, the evidence of his official dignity and of their unconditioned exemption from ceremonial bondage, were their glory, and therefore they were not to sink into faintness and lassitude, as if by his “chain” they had been affronted and their apostle disgraced.
The apostle now resumes the thought broken off in Ephesians 3:1, and we are carried back at once to the magnificent imagery of a spiritual temple in the concluding section of the second chapter. The prayer must be regarded as immediately following that section, and its architectural terms and allusions will thus be more clearly understood. This connection with the closing paragraph of the former chapter, we take as affording the key to the correct exegesis of the following supplication.
(Ephesians 3:14.) τούτου χάριν κάμπτω τὰ γόνατά μου—“For this cause I bow my knees.” The attitude, which Kant has ventured to call einen knechtischen (servile) Orientalismus, is described instead of the act, or, as Calvin says-a signo rem denotat. The phrase is followed here by πρός-but by a simple dative in Romans 11:4; while γονυπετεῖν has an accusative in Matthew 17:14; Mark 1:40; Mark 10:17. This compound and γονυκλινεῖν represent in the Septuagint the Hebrew כָּרַע, H4156. The posture is the instinctive expression of homage, humility, and petition: the suppliant offers his worship and entreaty on bended knee. 2 Chronicles 6:13; Psalms 95:6; Luke 22:41; Acts 7:60; Acts 9:40; Acts 20:36; Acts 21:5. See Suicer's Thesaurus, sub voce γονυκλισία. He does not simply say, “I pray,” adds Chrysostom- ἀλλὰ τὴν κατανενυγμένην δέησιν ἐδήλωσεν. τούτου χάριν is repeated from Ephesians 3:1, “Because ye are inbuilt in the spiritual temple.” I bow my knees-
πρὸς τὸν πατέρα—“toward the Father.” Winer, § 49, h. The genitives, τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν ᾿ιησοῦ χριστοῦ, of the common text are pronounced by many critics to be spurious. That there was an early variation of reading is evident from Jerome's note-non ut in Latinis codicibus additum est, ad Patrem Domini nostri Jesu Christi, sed simpliciter ad Patrem, legendum. The words are wanting in A, B, C, and some of the Patristic citations, are omitted by Lachmann and Tischendorf, and rejected by Rückert, Harless, Olshausen, Meyer, Stier, Ellicott, and Alford. In this opinion we are now inclined to concur. Still the words are found in other Codices, and those of no mean authority, such as D, E, F, G, I, K, etc. They occur, too, in the Syriac and Vulgate, are not disowned by the Greek fathers Chrysostom and Theodoret, and they are retained by Knapp, Scholz, Tittmann, and Hahn, and vindicated by de Wette. The evidence for them is strong, but not conclusive. They may have been interpolated from the common formula, and their insertion weakens the rhythmical connection between πατέρα and the following πατριά. The question is yet somewhat doubtful. The object of Paul's prayer is the Father-the universal Father-
(Ephesians 3:15.) ᾿εξ οὗ πᾶσα πατριὰ ἐν οὐρανοῖς καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς ὀνομάζεται—“Of whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” Calvin, Beza, Musculus, Zanchius, and Reiche refer to Christ as the antecedent. But even if the former clause be genuine, this interpretation cannot be sustained. It is the relation of the πατριά to the πατήρ which the apostle evidently characterizes, and not the relation of the family to its elder brother. The classes of beings referred to by the apostle have become each a πατριά, from their relation to the πατήρ. These words admit of a variety of interpretations. πατριά, it is plain, cannot be equivalent to πατρότης, and denote fatherhood-paternitas, as Jerome translates. Yet this view is held by Theodoret, Theophylact, OEcumenius, Anselm, a-Lapide, Allioli, and Nitzsch, Prakt. Theologie, 1.269. The Syriac also translates- אבהותא—“paternity,” the Gothic version has-all fadreinis-omne paternitatis, and Wycliffe-eche fadirheid. Such a sense the word does not bear, and no tolerable exegesis could be extracted from it. The Greek fathers are even obliged to admit that among the celestial orders no proper fatherhood can exist. ᾿επεὶ, as Theophylact confesses, ἐκεῖ οὐδεὶς ἐξ οὐδενὸς γεννᾶται; or, as Theodoret adds- οὐρανίους πατέρας τοὺς πνευματικοὺς καλεῖ. Jerome is also obliged to say-ita puto et angelos ceterasque virtutes habere principes sui generis quos patres gaudeant appellare. Yet Stier would find no difficulty in defending such phraseology. Giving πατριά the sense of fatherhood, this meaning might be extracted-all paternity has the origin of its name in God the Father of all. Fatherhood takes its name from Father-God-alle Vaterschaft hat ihres Namens Grund in Vatergott. Somewhat similar is the opinion of Athanasius—“God, as Father of the Son, is the only true Father, and all created paternity is a shadow of the true.” Orat. in Arian. 1.24. But an idea of this abstract nature is foreign to the apostle's modes of thought.
πατριά, while it denotes sometimes lineage by the father's side, signifies also a family, or the individuals that claim a common father and a common descent-what may be called a house or clan. Herodot. 2.143, 3.75, 1.200; Luke 2:4; Acts 3:25. The Seventy represent by it the common Hebrew phrase- בֵּיתאָבוֹת. We cannot acquiesce in the view of Estius, Grotius, Wetstein, and Holzhausen, who look upon the clause as a Jewish mode of expressing the idea that God has two families, that of angels in heaven and men upon earth. Schoettgen, Horae Heb. p. 1237; Buxtorf, Lex. Tal. p. 1750; Wetstein, in loc. Some, again, such as Chrysostom, Bucer, Calvin, Zanchius, Estius, Michaelis, Küttner, and Peile, find a polemical allusion in the term to the union of Jew and Gentile; and a view somewhat similar is taken by Hunnius, Crocius, Calovius, and Wolf, who regard it as synonymous with tota ecclesia. Reiche needlessly supposes the allusion to be to the Gnostic aeons in some prevalent false philosophy. Bodius shows peculiar keenness in excluding any reference to angels, the allusion under the phrase “family in heaven” being, as he contends, only to the church triumphant. Hodge follows him, and Theodore of Mopsuestia generalizes away the sense when he renders it ὃν ἅπαν σύστημα.
The verb ὀνομάζεται “is named,” that is, involves the name, of πατριά. But Bullinger, Bucer, Estius, Rückert, Matthies, and Holzhausen take the verb in the sense of “exists.” καλέω in its passive voice may sometimes indirectly bear such a meaning, but the verb before us never has such a signification. It signifies to bear the- ὄνομα. ᾿εξ οὗ—“from whom,” or, as we say, “after whom” every family in heaven and earth is named. Homer, Iliad, 10.68; Xenophon, Mem. 4.5, 12; Sophocles, OEdip. Tyr. 1036. The meaning seems to be: every circle of holy and intelligent creatures having the name of πατριά takes that name from God as πατήρ. The reference is certainly not to the physical creation, or creation as a whole and in all its parts, as is the groundless opinion of Theophylact, OEcumenius, Estius, Rückert, Matthies, and Bretschneider. The apostle speaks of classes of intelligent creatures, each named πατριά simply after God, for He is πατήρ. It follows as a natural consequence, though Meyer and de Wette object to such a conclusion, that if angels and “spirits of just men” in heaven, and holy men on earth, receive the name of πατριά from the Divine Father, then they are His children, as is contended for by many interpreters, from Beza and Piscator down to Olshausen. They lose the cold and official name of subjects in the familiar and endearing appellation of sons, and they are united to one another not dimly and unconsciously, as different products of the same Divine workmanship, but they merge into one family—“all they are brethren.” Every πατριά must surely possess unbounded confidence in the benignity and protection of the πατήρ, and to Him, therefore, the prayer of the apostle is directed-
(Ephesians 3:16.) ῞ινα δῴη ὑμῖν κατὰ τὸ πλοῦτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ—“That He would give you according to the riches of His glory.” A, B, C, F, G, read δῷ, and the reading has been adopted by Lachmann, Rückert, and Meyer. Others prefer the reading of the Textus Receptus, which is sustained by D, E, K, L, and most MSS., δῷ being regarded as a grammatical emendation. For the connection of ἵνα with the optative, the reader may turn to the remarks made under Ephesians 1:17. In this case there is no word signifying “to ask or supplicate,” for the phrase “I bow my knees” is a pregnant ellipse-the understood posture and symbol of earnest entreaty. The neuter form, πλοῦτος, is preferred to the masculine on the incontestable authority of A, B, C, D1, E, F, G, etc. The masculine has but D3, I, K, etc., in its favour. See under Ephesians 1:7, Ephesians 2:7, Ephesians 3:8, where both the form of the word and its meaning have been referred to. The phrase is connected not with κραταιωθῆναι, but with δῴη, and it illustrates the proportion or measurement of the gift, nay, of all the gifts that are comprehended in the apostle's prayer. And it is no exaggeration, for He gives like Himself, not grudgingly or in tiny portions, as if He were afraid to exhaust His riches, or even suspected them to be limited in their contents. There is no fastidious scrupulosity or anxious frugality on the part of the Divine Benefactor. His bounty proclaims His conscious possession of immeasurable resources. He bestows according to the riches of His glory-His own infinite fulness. “That He would give you”-
δυνάμει κραταιωθῆναι διὰ τοῦ πνεύματος αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸν ἔσω ἄνθρωπον—“to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man.” We need not, with Beza, Rückert, Olshausen, Matthies, Robinson, and others, regard the substantive δυνάμει as an adverb, nor, with Koppe, identify it with δυνατῶς. Rather, with Meyer, would we take it as the dative of instrument, by which the action of the verb is communicated. Winer, § 31, 7. It is by the infusion of power into the man within, that the process described by κραταιωθῆναι is secured. The verb κραταιόω belongs to the later and especially the Hellenistic Greek; κρατύνω being the earlier form. Meyer supposes a reference to the ἐγκακεῖν of a former clause, but such a supposition can hardly be admitted, for the “fainting” referred to by the apostle was connected solely with his own personal wrongs, while this prayer for strength is of a wider and deeper nature. Nor can we assume, with the Greek commentators, that the reference is merely to “temptations,” to surmount which the apostle craves upon them the bestowment of might. We conceive the form of expression to be in unison with the figure which the apostle had introduced into the conclusion of the second chapter. He had likened the Ephesian Christians to a temple, and in harmony with such a thought he prays that the living stones in that fabric may be strengthened, so that the building may be compact and solid.
διὰ τοῦ πνεύματος αὐτοῦ—“by His Spirit.” The Spirit of God is the agent in this process of invigoration. That Spirit is God's, as He bears God's commission and does His work. He has free access to man's spirit to move it as He may, and it is His peculiar function in the scheme of mercy to apply to the heart the spiritual blessings provided by Christ. The direction of the gift is declared to be-
εἰς τὸν ἔσω ἄνθρωπον—“into the inner man.” εἰς cannot be said to stand for ἐν, but it marks out the destination of the gift. Winer, § 49, a; Kühner, § 603. It is not simply “in reference to,” as Winer and de Wette render, nor “for,” as Green translates it (Greek Gram. p. 292); but it denotes or implies that the δύναμις comes from an external source, and enters into the inner man. The phrase ὁ ἔσω ἄνθρωπος is identical with the parallel expression- ὁ κρυπτὸς τῆς καρδίας ἄνθρωπος, which the Apostle Peter, without sexual distinction, applies to women. 1 Peter 3:4. The formula occurs in Romans 7:22, and with some variation in 2 Corinthians 4:16. The “inner man” is that portion of our nature which is not cognizable by the senses, and does not consist of nerve, muscle, and organic form, as does the outer man. In the physiology of the seventh chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, it is not the soul- ψυχή-in its special aspect of vital consciousness, but it is more connected with mind- νοῦς, and stands in contrast not exactly to σάρξ, as representing generally depraved humanity, but to that sensuous nature which has action and reaction in and from the members- μέλη. Delitzsch, System der Bib. Psychol. p. 331; Reuss, Théol. Chrét. vol. ii. p. 56. But “the inner man” is not identical with “the new man”- ὁ καινὸς ἄνθρωπος; it is rather the sphere in which such renewal takes effect-our intellectual and spiritual nature personified. We cannot agree with Grotius, Wetstein, Fritzsche, and Meyer in supposing that there is any imitation of Platonic phrase in this peculiar diction. The sage of the Athenian academy did indeed use similar phraseology, for he speaks of the mind as ὁ ἐντὸς ἄνθρωπος, and Plotinus and Philo adopted a like idiom. In some of the Jewish books occur also modes of expression not unlike. But the phrase is indeed a natural one-one that is not the coinage of any system of psychology, but which occurs at once to any one who wishes to distinguish easily and broadly between what is corporeal and external, and what is mental and internal, in his own constitution. Still, its theological meaning in the apostle's writings is different from its philosophical uses and applications. And this strength is imparted to the “inner man” by the Spirit's application of those truths which have a special tendency to cheer and sustain. He impresses the mind with the idea of the changeless love of Christ, and the indissoluble union of the believing soul to Him; with the necessity of decision, consistency, and perseverance; with the assurance that all grace needed will be fully and cheerfully afforded; and with the hope that the victory shall be ultimately obtained. Romans 15:13; 2 Timothy 1:7. This operation of the Spirit imparts such courage and energy as appear like a species of spiritual omnipotence.
The Syriac version, the Greek fathers, with the Latin commentators Ambrosiaster and Pelagius, join this last clause- εἰς τὸν ἔσω ἄνθρωπον, with the following verse, and with the verb κατοικῆσαι—“In order that Christ may inhabit the inner man by the faith which is in your hearts.” It has been rightly objected by Harless and others, that διὰ τῆς πίστεως cannot well be joined to ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις, and that there would be a glaring pleonasm in the occurrence in the same verse of ὁ ἔσω ἄνθρωπος and ἡ καρδία ὑμῶν. The ordinary division is a natural one, and we accordingly follow it.
(Ephesians 3:17.) κατοικῆσαι τὸν χριστόν—“That Christ may dwell.” The first point of inquiry is the connection of this infinitive with the previous sentence. Does it depend on δῴη, and is the meaning—“that he would grant that Christ may dwell in your hearts”? or is it dependent on κραταιωθῆναι, and is the meaning—“that he would grant you to be strengthened in the inner man, so that, being thus strengthened, Christ may dwell in your hearts”? The first view is held by Theophylact, Zanchius, Grotius, Estius, Bengel, Flatt, Koppe, Rückert, Holzhausen, Stier, and Baumgarten-Crusius. The connection, however, has been explained differently. Some, as Theophylact and Zanchius, regard the clause as a new petition giving speciality to the first, or, as the Greek father characterizes it,- καὶ τὸ μεῖζον καὶ περισσότερον. Meier adopts the view of Calvin,-declarat, quale sit interioris hominis robur. A similar exegesis is maintained by Harless and Matthies, while Olshausen looks upon the clause as a subordinate definition of the phrase “to be strengthened.” He maintains that Paul could not pray that Christ would dwell in their hearts, for He already dwelt there. As well might he argue that Paul could not pray for spiritual invigoration, since they already possessed it. When believers pray for a gift in general terms, they emphatically supplicate an enlargement of what of it is already in their possession. Would Olshausen apply his criterion to the prayer contained in the 1st chapter, and affirm that the fact of such gifts being asked for implied the total want of them on the part of the Ephesian church? De Wette takes κατοικῆσαι as an infinitive of purpose or design, and regards the clause as describing the completion of “the strengthening.” Bernhardy, p. 365. See on Colossians 1:11. We now look upon it as pointing out rather the result of the process of invigoration prayed for. The inspired petitioner solicited spiritual strength for them securing this result-that Christ might dwell in their hearts. The infinitive is connected with the more distant δῴη, and more closely with the preceding infinitive; Winer, § 44, 1. There is little doubt that in the verb κατοικῆσαι, emphatic in its position, the reference is to the last clause of the 2nd chapter- κατοικητήριον τοῦ θεοῦ—“a dwelling of God.” The apostle applies in this prayer the architectural allusion directly to the believing Ephesians themselves, and therefore the figure is not preserved in its rhetorical integrity. Ye are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ being the Head-stone of the corner; that spiritual building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple, for a habitation of God: and the prayer now is, that compactness and solidity may be granted to them by the Spirit, so as that in them the primary design of such a temple may be realized, and “Christ may dwell in their hearts”-Christ by His Spirit, and not as Fritzsche coldly and tastelessly describes it-mens quam Christus postulat. κράτος, not δύναμις, may be applied to the qualities of physical objects, and so with propriety its derivative verb is here employed. In a temple that was crazy, or was built of loose and incongruous materials, the Divine guest could not be expected to dwell.
The κατοικῆσαι of this verse has, as we have said, its origin in the κατοικητήριον of Ephesians 2:22. The language is of common usage, and has its basis in the Old Testament, and in the employment of שָׁכַן, H8905, and kindred words to describe Jehovah's relation to His house. And as the design of a temple is that its god may inhabit it, so Christ dwells in the heart. This inhabitation is not to be explained away as a mere reception of Christian doctrine, nor is it to be regarded as a mystical exaggeration. Colossians 1:27; John 14:23; Romans 8:9; Romans 8:11; Galatians 2:20; James 4:5. The meaning of His dwelling is-
διὰ τῆς πίστεως—“by faith”-your faith. Faith induces and also realizes His presence. And His abode is in no outer vestibule, but-
ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν—“in your hearts.” The heart, as centre of the spiritual life, is His temple-the inner shrine of emotion and power-Centrum des sittlichen Lebens. Delitzsch, System der Bib. Psychol. p. 206; Beck, Seelenlehre, p. 69. Christ dwells there not as a sojourner, or “as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night,” but as a permanent resident. The intercessor continues-
(Ephesians 3:18.) ᾿εν ἀγάπῃ ἐῤῥιζωμένοι καὶ τεθεμελιωμένοι ἵνα—“Ye having been rooted and grounded in love, in order that.” Some solve the difficulty felt about the connection of this clause by proposing to transfer ἵνα to its commencement. This metathesis was suggested by Photius, and has been followed by Beza, Heinsius, Grotius, Crocius, and the Authorized Version. There is no necessity for such a change, even though the clause be joined, as by Knapp and Lachmann, to that which begins with ἵνα; and the passages usually adduced to justify such an alteration are not precisely parallel, as is acutely shown by Piscator. John 13:39; Acts 19:4; Galatians 2:10. The clause is, however, connected by some with the preceding one. Theophylact makes it the condition of Christ's dwelling in their hearts. The exegesis of Chrysostom is similar—“He dwelleth only in hearts rooted in His love”- ταῖς καρδίαις ταῖς πισταῖς, ταῖς ἐῤῥιζομέναις. This connection is also advocated by many, including Erasmus, Luther, Harless, Olshausen, and de Wette. But the change of construction is not so easily accounted for, if this view of the connection be adopted. Harless says, indeed, that as the predicate applies both to καρδίαις and to ὑμῶν, it could not with propriety be joined exclusively to any of them. Such a view of grammatical propriety was, however, based on a foregone conclusion, for either the genitive or dative could have been used with equal correctness. On the other hand, the change of syntax indicates a change of connection, and the use of the irregular nominative makes the transition easy to the form adopted with ἵνα. Krüger, § 56, 9, 4; Winer, § 63, 2. Harless adopts the view of Chrysostom and Theophylact, and regards the clause as a condition—“Christ dwells in their heart, since they had been rooted in love.” But the clause, so changed, becomes a species of independent proposition, giving a marked prominence to the sense, and connected at once with the preceding context as its result, and with the following context as its starting idea-the perfect being used with propriety, and not the present. Christ dwelling in their hearts-they are supposed, as the effect of this inhabitation, to have been now rooted and grounded in love; and as the design of this confirmation in love-they are then and thus qualified to comprehend with all saints, etc. “Having thus become rooted and grounded in love, in order that ye may be able to comprehend.”
The two participles ἐῤῥιζομένοι and τεθεμελιωμένοι, are usually said to express the same idea by different figures-the one borrowed from botany and the other from architecture. But it is more natural to refer both words to the same general symbol, and indeed, the former term is applied to a building. Thus, Herodot. 1.64- πεισίστρατος ἐρρίζωσε τὴν τυραννίδα; Plutarch, De Fortun. Rom.- ῥιζῶσαι καὶ καταστῆσαι τὴν πόλιν; Sophocles, OEdip. Col. 1591, ὁδὸν γῆθεν ἐρριζωμένον; also Plutarch, De Lib. Educ. 9, etc. The verb is thus used in a general sense, and coupled with τεθεμελιωμένοι may have no specific reference to plantation. The allusion is again to the solid basement of the spiritual temple described in chap. ii.
But to what do the words ἐν ἀγάπῃ describing the foundation refer? Some understand the love of Christ or God to us. Such is the view of Chrysostom and Theophylact, of Beza, Calovius, Aretius, Wolf, Bengel, Storr, Koppe, and Flatt. We cannot lay any stress on the dictum of Harless, that the omission of the article before the substantive proves it to be used in a subjective sense, and to signify our love to Christ. Winer, § 19, 1. Nor can we say, with Meyer, that the substantive standing without the article has almost the force of a participle—“in amando.” But the entire context proves that the love referred to is the grace of love. One would have expected a genitive of possession, if ἀγάπη were not predicated of the persons themselves-if it were not a feeling in their hearts. It is a clumsy and equivocal exegesis to comprise under the term both Christ's love to us and our love to Him, as is done by Bucer, Anselm, Zanchius, Crocius, Matthies, and Stier. Nor can we accede to Meyer, who seems to restrict it to brother-love; for if it be the grace of love which is here specified, then it is love to Christ, and to every creature that bears His image. Colossians 3:14; 1 Corinthians 13. Now, as the apostle intimates, this love is the root and foundation of Christian character, as all advancement is connected with its existence and exercise. “He prayeth well who loveth well.” Love is the fundamental grace. As love keeps its object enshrined in the imagination, and allows it never to be absent from the thoughts; so love to Jesus gives Him such a cheerful and continued presence in the mind, that as it gazes ever upon the image, it is changed into its likeness, for it strives to realize the life of Christ. It deepens also that consecration to the Lord which is essential to spiritual progress, for it sways all the motives, and moves and guides the inner man by it s hallowed and powerful instincts. And it gives life and symmetry to all the other graces, for confidence and hope in a being to whom you are indifferent, cannot have such vigour and permanence as they have in one to whom the spirit is intelligently and engrossingly attached. When the lawgiver is loved, his statutes are obeyed with promptitude and uniformity. Thus resemblance to Jesus, devotion to Him, and growth in grace, as the elements and means of spiritual advancement, are intimately connected with love as their living basis. The entire structure of the holy fane is fitly framed and firmly held together, for it is “rooted and grounded in love.”
(Ephesians 3:18.) ῞ινα ἐξισχύσητε καταλαβέσθαι σὺν πᾶσι τοῖς ἁγίοις—“That ye may be able to comprehend with all the saints.” The conjunction expresses the design which these previous petitions had in view. Their being strengthened, their being inhabited by Christ, and their “having been rooted and grounded in love,” not only prepared them for this special study, but had made it their grand object. By a prior invigoration they were disciplined to it, and braced up for it—“that ye may be fully able”-fully matched to the enterprise.
On ἅγιος, see Ephesians 1:2. The verb καταλαβέσθαι, used in the middle voice, has in the New Testament the meaning of “to comprehend,” or to make a mental seizure. Such a middle voice-according to Krüger, § 52, 8, 4-differs from the active only in so far as it exhibits the idea-des geschäftlichen oder geistigen Kraftaufwandes-of earnest or spiritual energy. The aorist expresses the rapid passing of the act. Winer, § 44, 7, b. In the only other passages where it occurs, as in Acts 4:13; Acts 10:34; Acts 25:25, the verb signifies to come to a decided conclusion from facts vividly presented to the attention. And they were to engage in this study along with the universal church of Christ-not angels, or glorified spirits, or office-bearers in the church exclusively, as some have maintained. The design is to comprehend-
τί τὸ πλάτος καὶ μῆκος καὶ βάθος καὶ ὕψος—“what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height.” This order of the last two nouns is supported by A, K, L, or J, and the Received Text reversing it is apparently a correction intended to give the more natural order, and has in its favour B, C, D, E, F, G, with the Vulgate, Gothic, and Coptic. But to what do these terms of measurement apply? Many endeavours have been made to supplement the clause with a genitive, and it is certain that “many wits run riot in their geometrical and moral discourse upon these dimensions.” Assembly's Annotations, in loc.
1. We may allude in passing to the supposition of Kypke, that the verb may signify to occupy or fill, and that τι may be used with change of accent in an indefinite sense—“that ye may be able in the company of all saints to occupy the breadth, whatever it is,” etc. This exegesis is both violent and unnatural, puts an unusual sense upon καταλαβέσθαι, and treats τί τὸ πλάτος as if it were τὸ πλάτος τι.
2. Nor need we be detained by the opinion of Schrader, who regards the words τί τὸ πλάτος, etc., as only the paraphrastic complement of the verb καταλαβέσθαι, and as indicating the depth and thoroughness of the comprehension.
3. Nor can we suppose, with Beza and Grotius, that there is any allusion in these terms to the quarters of the heavens pointed to in the priestly gestures that gave name to the heave-offering and wave-offering. Exodus 29:27.
4. Some of the Fathers referred these four words to the mystery of the cross- τοῦ σταυροῦ φύσις, as Severianus calls it. This view was held by Gregory of Nyssa, Jerome, and Augustine, and has been adopted by Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, and Estius. This quadriform mystery-sacramentum crucis-was explained by Augustine as signifying love in its breadth, hope in its height, patience in its length, and humility in its depth. Ep. cxii.; De Videndo Deo, cap. 14; Ep. cxx. cap. 26. Well does Calvin add-haec subtilitate sua placent, sed quid ad Pauli mentem? Estius is more full and precise. He explains how the terms can be applied to the shape and beams of a cross, and adds-longitudo, temporum est, latitudo locorum, altitudo gloriae, profunditas discretionis, etc.-the reference being to the signum T in frontibus inscriptum. So remote from the train of thought is this recondite mysticism, that it needs and merits no formal refutation.
5. Some refer the nouns-sacra illa Pauli mathematica, as Glassius calls them-to the Divine plan of redemption-the mystery of grace. Such is the view of Chrysostom, who calls it- τὸ μυστήριον τὸ ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν οἰκονομηθέν, and Theodoret, who describes it as- τῆς οἰκονομίας τὸ μέγεθος. It is also the view of Theophylact and OEcumenius, followed by Beza, Bullinger, Piscator, Zanchius, Crocius, Crellius, Calovius, Rückert, Meier, Harless, Baumgarten-Crusius, and Olshausen. The supplement in this case appears to be far-fetched, and there is no allusion in the context to any such theme; the mystery referred to in Ephesians 3:4-10 being the admission of the Gentiles into the church, and not the scheme of grace in its wide and glorious aspects. As little ground is there to go back to Ephesians 3:8, to “the unsearchable riches of Christ,” and refer such terms to them. Whatever the allusion is, it must be something immediately present to his own mind, and something that he supposed very present to the mind of his readers, the dimensions of which are thus characterized.
6. We might almost pass over the fancy of those who suppose the apostle to take a survey of the Divine nature. Such is the opinion of Ambrosiaster, who believes the apostle to describe a sphere or cube equal in length, breadth, and thickness, and imagines that such a figure represents the perfection and all including infinity of God. Matthies holds the same allusion, but refers it to the moral perfections of God. What has led to this view seems to be the similarity of this verse to a passage in Job 11:8, in which the unfathomable mystery of the Divine nature is described—“It is high as heaven,” etc. But there is nothing to warrant such an allusion here, or even to give it a mere probability.
7. That the terms indicate the measurement of God's love to men, is the view advocated partly by Chrysostom, and by Erasmus, Bodius, Vatablus, Grotius, Rollock, Dickson, Baumgarten, Flatt, and von Gerlach. “God's love,” as is noted in the paraphrase of Erasmus, “reaches in its height to the angels, and in its depth into hell, and stretches in its length and breadth to all the climates of the world.” Or, as Grotius explains it—“The Divine goodness in its breadth affects all men, and in its length endures through all ages; in its depth it reaches to man's lowest depression, and in its height it carries him to highest glory.” But this explanation, too, the context abjures, unless such were the sense of the previous ἀγάπη, which, however, means love possessed by us.
8. With greater plausibility, Christ's love to us is supposed to be the theme of allusion, by Calvin, Calixtus, Zanchius Aretius, Semler, Zachariae, Storr, Bisping, Meyer, Holzhausen, Hodge, Peile, and Ellicott. Neither, however, can this opinion be sustained. The previous ἀγάπη could not suggest the thought, for there it is subjective. We apprehend that this exegesis has been borrowed from the following clause—“and to know the love of Christ,” which Ellicott says is practically the genitive. But that clause is not epexegetical of the preceding, as is manifest in the use of τε instead of καί, for this particle does not conjoin dependent sentences-it only adjoins collateral or independent propositions. Besides, the phrases “length and breadth” are unusual measurements of love.
9. De Wette, looking to Colossians 2 and comparing this phraseology with the second and third verses of that chapter, imagines the apostle to refer to the Divine wisdom. There may be in Job 11:8 a reference to the Divine wisdom, but the language specially affirms the mystery of the Divine nature. Schlichting also refers to Colossians 2:2 -to “the mystery of God the Father and of Christ,” as if that were the allusion here. Such a view is quite as capricious as any of the preceding, for the wisdom of God is not a prominent topic either in this prayer or in the preceding context, where it is only once, though vividly, introduced. Alford somewhat similarly supposes that the genitive is left indefinite—“every dimension of all that God has revealed or done in or for us.” This is certainly better than any of the previous explanations.
10. Heinsius, Homberg, Wolf, Michaelis, Cramer, Röell, Bengel, Koppe, Stier, Burton, Trollope, and Dr. Featley in the Assembly's Annotations, suppose the allusion to be to the Christian temple; not to the fane of the Ephesian Artemis, as is maintained by Chandler and Macknight. This appears to us to be the most probable exegesis, the genitive being still before the apostle's mind from the end of the previous chapter. We have seen how the previous language of the prayer is moulded by such an allusion; that the invigoration of the inner man, the indwelling of Christ, and the substructure in love, have all distinct reference to the glorious spiritual edifice. This idea was present, and so present to the apostle's imagination, that he feels no need to make formal mention of it. Besides, these architectural terms lead us to the same conclusion, as they are so applicable to a building. The magnificent fabric is described in the end of chap. ii., and the intervening verses which precede the prayer are, as already stated, a parenthesis. That figure of a temple still loomed before the writer's fancy, and naturally supplied the distinctive imagery of the prayer. For this reason, too, he does not insert a genitive, as the substantive is so remote, nor did he reckon it necessary to repeat the noun itself. Yet, to sustain the point and emphasis, he repeats the article before each of the substantives. In explaining these terms of mensuration we would not say with an old commentator quoted by Wolf—“The church has length, that is, it stretches from east to west; and it has breadth, that is, it reaches from the equator to the poles. In its depth it descends to Christ, its cornerstone and basis, and in its height it is exalted to heaven.” There is a measurement of area-breadth and length, and a measurement of altitude-height and depth. May not the former refer to its size and growing vastness, embracing, as it will do, so many myria ds of so many nations, and spanning the globe? And may not the latter depict its glory? for the plan, structure, and materials alike illustrate the fame and character of its Divine Builder and Occupant, while its lofty turrets are bathed and hidden from view in the radiant splendour of heaven. And with what reed shall we measure this stately building? How shall we grasp its breadth, compute its length, explore its depth, and scan its height? Only by the discipline described in the previous context-by being strengthened by the Spirit, by having Christ within us, and by being thus “rooted and grounded in love.” This ability to measure the church needs the assistance of the Divine Spirit-of Him who forms this “habitation of God”-so that we may understand its nature, feel its self-expansion, and believe the “glorious things spoken” of it. It requires also the indwelling of Jesus-of Him in whom the whole building groweth unto a holy temple, in order to appreciate its connection with Him as its chief corner-stone, the source of its stability and symmetry. And they who feel themselves “rooted and grounded in love” need no incitement to this survey and measurement, for He whom they love is its foundation, while His Father dwells in it, and His Spirit builds it up with generation after generation of believers. None have either the disposition or the skill to comprehend the vastness and glory of the spiritual temple, save they who are in it themselves, and who, being individual and separate shrines, can reason from their own enjoyment to the dignity and splendour of the universal edifice. And not only so, but the apostle also prayed for ability-
(Ephesians 3:19.) γνῶναί τε τὴν ὑπερβάλλουσαν τῆς γνώσεως ἀγάπην τοῦ χριστοῦ—“And to know the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ.” γνῶναι is not dependent on καταλαβέσθαι, but is in unison with, or rather parallel to it, being also a similar exercise of mind. The particle τε, not unlike the Latin que, does not couple; it rather annexes or adds a clause which is not necessarily dependent on the preceding. Kühner, § 722; Hartung, i. p. 105; Hand, Tursellinus seu de Particulis Latinis Commentarii, lib. ii. p. 467. Winer remarks, that in the clause adjoined by τε the more prominent idea of the sentence may be found. § 53, 2. In the phrase- ἀγάπην τοῦ χριστοῦ, χριστοῦ is the genitive of possession or subject-the love of Christ to us. The genitive γνώσεως is governed by the participle ὑπερβάλλουσαν, and not by the substantive ἀγάπην,-the last a misconstruction, which may have originated the reading of Codex A and of Jerome-scientiae caritatem; a reading adopted also by Grotius and Homberg. The participle, from its comparative sense, governs the genitive. Kühner, § 539; Bernhardy, p. 169; Vigerus, de Idiotismis, ii. p. 667, Londini, 1824. Two different meanings have been ascribed to the participle-
1. That adopted by Luther in one version—“the love of Christ, which is more excellent than knowledge.” Similar is the view of Wetstein and Wilke. Lexicon, sub voce. Such a rendering appears to stultify itself. If the apostle prayed them to know a love which was better than knowledge, the verb, it is plain, is used with a different signification from its cognate substantive. To know such a love must in that case signify to possess or feel it, and there is no occasion to take γνῶσις in any technical and inferior sense. Nor can we suppose the apostle to use such a truism in the form of a contrast, and to say, “I pray that you may know that love to Christ is better than mere knowledge about Him”-a position which nobody could dispute. Nor did there need a request for spiritual strength to enable them to come to the conclusion which Augustine gathers from the clause-scientia subdita caritati. De Gratia et Lib. Arbit. cap. 19. Far more point and consistency are found in the second form of exegesis, which-
2. Supposes the apostle to say, that the love of Christ-the love which He bears to us - transcends knowledge, or goes beyond our fullest conceptions. “I pray that you may be able to know the love of Christ, which yet in itself is above knowledge.” This figure of speech, which rhetoricians call an oxymoron or a paradox, consists in the statement of an apparent inconsistency, and is one which occurs elsewhere in the writings of the apostle. Romans 1:20; 1 Corinthians 1:21-25; 2 Corinthians 8:2; Galatians 2:19; 1 Timothy 5:6. The apostle does not mean that Christ's love is in every sense incomprehensible, nor does he pray that his readers may come to know the fact that His love is unknowable in its essence. This latter view, which is that of Harless and Olshausen, limits the inspired prayer, and is not warranted by the language employed. But in this verse the position of the participle between the article and its substantive, proves it to be only an epithet—“to know the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ.” Winer, § 45, 4, note. The incomprehensibility of the love of Christ is not that special element of it which the apostle prayed that the Ephesians might come to the knowledge of, but he asks that they might be strengthened to cherish enlarged conceptions of a love which yet, in its higher aspect and properties, was beyond knowledge. So write OEcumenius and Theophylact,- τὴν ἀγάπην τὴν ὑπερέχουσαν πάσης γνώσεως. The apostle wishes them to possess a relative acquaintance with the love of Christ, while he felt that the absolute understanding of it was far beyond their reach. To know it to be the fact, that it is a love which passeth knowledge, is different from saying-to know it experimentally, though it be a love which in the highest sense passeth knowledge. Thus Theodore of Mopsuestia says- τὸ γνῶναι ἀντὶ τοῦ ἀπολαῦσαι λέγει. It may be known in some features and to some extent, but at the same time it stretches away into infinitude, far beyond the ken of human discovery and analysis. As a fact manifested in time and embodied in the incarnation, life, teaching, and death of the Son of God, it may be understood, for it assumed a nature of clay, bled on the cross, and lay prostrate in the tomb; but in its unbeginning existence as an eternal passion, antedating alike the Creation and the Fall, it “passeth knowledge.” In the blessings which it confers-the pardon, grace, and glory which it provides-it may be seen in palpable exhibition, and experienced in happy consciousness; but in its limitless power and endless resources it baffles thought and description. In the terrible sufferings and death to which it led, and in the self-denial and sacrifices which it involved, it may be known so far by the application of human instincts and analogies; but the fathomless fervour of a Divine affection surpasses the measurements of created intellect. As the attachment of a man, it may be gauged; but as the love of a God, who can by searching find it out? Uncaused itself, it originated salvation; unresponded to amidst the “contradiction of sinners,” it neither pined nor collapsed. It led from Divine immortality to human agonies and dissolution, for the victim was bound to the cross not by the nails of the military executioner, but by the “cords of love.” It loved repulsive unloveliness, and, unnourished by reciprocated attachment, its ardour was unquenched, nay, is unquenchable, for it is changeless as the bosom in which it dwells. Thus it may be known, while yet it “passeth knowledge;” thus it may be experimentally known, while still in its origin and glory it surpassses comprehension, and presents new and newer phases to the loving and inquiring spirit. For one may drink of the spring and be refreshed, and his eye may take in at one view its extent and circuit, while he may be able neither to fathom the depth nor mete out the volume of the ocean whence it has its origin.
This prayer, that the Ephesians might know the love of Christ, is parallel to the preceding one, and was suggested by it. That temple of such glory and vastness which has Christ for its corner-stone, suggests the love of its illustrious Founder. While the apostle prayed that his converts in Ephesus might comprehend the stability and magnificence of the one, he could not but add that they might also know the intensity and tenderness of the other-might understand in its history and results a love that defied their familiar cognizance and penetration in its essence and circuit. From what the church is, and is to be, you infer the love of Christ. And the being “rooted and grounded in love” is the one preparative to know the love of Christ, for love appreciates love, and responds in cordial pulsation. And all this for the ultimate end-
ἵνα πληρωθῆτε εἰς πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ θεοῦ—“that ye may be filled up to all the fulness of God.” This clause depicts the grand purpose and result. ῞ινα—“in order that,” is connected with the preceding clauses of the prayer, and is the third instance of its use in the paragraph- ἵνα δῴη- ἵνα ἐξισχύσητε-i ῞να πληρωθῆτε-this last being climactic, or the great end of the whole supplication. (For the meaning of πλήρωμα, the reader may turn to Ephesians 1:10; Ephesians 1:23.) τοῦ θεοῦ is in the genitive of subject or possession. “All the fulness of God” is all the fulness which God possesses, or by which He is characterized. Chrysostom is right in the main when he paraphrases it,- πληροῦσθαι πάσης ἀρετῆς ἧς πλήρης ἐστίν ὁ θεός. Some, like Harless, refer the fulness to the Divine δόξα; others, like Holzhausen, Baumgarten, and Michaelis, think the allusion is to a temple inhabited or filled with Divinity, or the Shechinah; and others, again, as Vatablus and Schoettgen, dilate the meaning into a full knowledge of God or of Divine doctrine. Many commentators, including Calovius, Zachariae, Wolf, Beza, Estius, Grotius, and Meyer, break down the term by a rash analysis, and make it refer to this or that species of spiritual gifts. Bodius and Olshausen keep the word in its undivided significance, but Conybeare inserts an unwarranted supplement when he renders - “filleth therewith” (with Christ's love) “even to the measure of the fulness of God.” Koppe, adopting the idea of Aretius and Küttner, and most unwarrantably referring it to the church, supposes the clause to be adduced as a proof of the preceding statement, that Christ's love surpasses knowledge, and this is seen “in the fact of your admission to the church,”-thus diluting the words into ἐν τῷ πληρωθῆναι ὑμᾶς. Schleusner has a similar view. Codex B reads- ἵνα πληρωθῇ πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα, an exegetical variation. The πλήρωμα-that with which He is filled-appears to be the entire moral excellence of God-the fulness and lustre of His spiritual perfections. Such is the climax of the prayer. It is plainly contrary to fact and experience to understand the term of the uncreated essence of God, for such an idea would involve us in a species of pantheism.
The preposition εἰς is used with special caution. The simple dative is not employed, nor does εἰς stand for ἐν, as Grotius, Estius, and Whitby imagine, and as it is rendered in the Syriac and English versions. It does not denote “with,” but “for” or “into”-filled up to or unto “an end quantitatively considered.” The whole fulness of God can never contract itself so as to lodge in any created heart. But the smaller vessel may have its own fulness poured into it from one of larger dimensions. The communicable fulness of God will in every element of it impart itself to the capacious and exalted bosom, for Christ dwells in their hearts. The difference between God and the saint will be not in kind, but in degree and extent. His fulness is infinite; theirs is limited by the essential conditions of a created nature. Theirs is the correspondence of a miniature to the full face and form which it represents. Stier's version is, “Until you be what as the body of Christ you can and should be, the whole fulness of God.” But this proceeds on a wrong idea of πλήρωμα - as if it here signified the church as divinely filled. (See the illustrations of πλήρωμα under Ephesians 1:23.) The apostle prays for strength, for the indwelling of Jesus, for unmoveable foundation in love, for a comprehension of the size and vastness of the spiritual temple, and for a knowledge of the love of Christ; and when such blessings are conferred and enjoyed, they are the means of bringing into the heart this Divine fulness. Colossians 2:19. There seems to be a close concatenation of thought. The “strength” prayed for is needed to qualify “the inner man” to bear and retain that “fulness.” The implored inhabitation of Him in whom “dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,” is this fulness in its formal aspect; and that love whic h founds and confirms the Christian character, and instinctively enables it to comprehend the vast designs of God in His church, and to know the unimaginable love of Christ, is of the same fulness an index and accompaniment. This blessed result may not be completely realized on earth, where so many disturbing influences are in constant operation, but it shall be reached in heaven, where the spirit shall be sated with “all the fulness of God.”
(Ephesians 3:20.) τῷ δὲ δυναμένῳ ὑπὲρ πάντα ποιῆσαι ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ ὧν αἰτούμεθα ἢ νοοῦμεν—“Now to Him who is able to do beyond all things superabundantly beyond what we ask or think.” The apostle supposes his prayer to be answered, and all its requests conferred. The Divine Giver of such munificent donations is surely worthy of all homage, and especially worthy of all homage in the character of the answerer of prayer. By δέ he passes to a different subject-from recipients to the Giver. Praise succeeds prayer-the anthem is its fitting conclusion.
The construction is idiomatic, as if the apostle's mind laboured for terms of sufficient intensity. Words compounded with ὑπέρ are often employed by the full mind of the apostle, and are the favourite characteristics of his style, Ephesians 1:21, Ephesians 4:10; Romans 5:20; Romans 8:37; 2 Corinthians 7:4; 2 Corinthians 11:5; 2 Corinthians 11:23; Philippians 2:9; 1 Thessalonians 3:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Timothy 1:14. Compare Fritzsche, ad Roman. vol. 1.351. The general idea is-God's infinite ability to grant spiritual blessing. ῾υπέρ is twice expressed; before πάντα, and in the double compound term ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ. Mark 7:37; 1 Thessalonians 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:13. This repetition shows the ardour of the apostle's soul, and his anxiety to body forth the idea of the incomparable power of God to answer petition. The first train of thought seems to have been- ὑπὲρ πάντα ποιῆσαι ἃ αἰτούμεθα—“to do beyond what we ask or think.” But this description did not exhaust the apostle's conception, and so he inserts- ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ ὧν αἰτούμεθα—“more than abundantly,” or abundantly far beyond what we ask or think. Nor is there any tautology. ῾υπὲρ πάντα ποιῆσαι expresses merely the fact of God's superabundant power, but the subjoined ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ defines the mode in which this illimitable power displays itself, and that is, by conferring spiritual gifts in superabundance-in much more than simple abundance. Harless places the two clauses in apposition, but their union appears to be closer, as our exegesis intimates. πάντα is closely connected with ὧν, which is governed in the genitive by the ὑπέρ in ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ. Bernhardy, p. 139. And we do not say with Harless that there is any hyperbole, for omnipotence has never exhausted its resources. While omniscience is the actual knowledge of all, omnipotence is the ability to do all, and all that it can do has never been achieved.
God is able to do far “above what we ask,” for our asking is limited and feeble. John 16:24. But there may be thoughts too sweeping for expression, there may be unutterable groanings prompted by the Spirit (Romans 8:26); yet above and beyond our widest conceptions and most daring expectations is God “able to do.” God's ability to answer prayer transcends not only our spoken petitions, but far surpasses even such thoughts as are too big for words, and too deep for utterance. And still those desires which are dumb from their very vastness, and amazing from their very boldness, are insignificant requests compared with the power of God. For we know so little of His promises, and so weak is our faith in them, that we ask not, as we should, for their universal fulfilment; and though we did understand their depth and power, our loftiest imaginations of possible blessing would come infinitely short of the power and resources of the Hearer of prayer. Beati qui esuriunt, says Bernard, et sitiunt justitiam, quoniam ipsi saturabuntur. Qui esurit, esuriat amplius, et qui desiderat, abundantius adhuc desideret, quoniam quantumcunque desiderare potuerit, tantum est accepturus:-
κατὰ τὴν δύναμιν τὴν ἐνεργουμένην ἐν ἡμῖν—“according to the power which worketh in us.” These words are not to be joined to νοοῦμεν, as if they qualified it, and as if the apostle meant to say, that God can do more for us than we can think, even when our thoughts are excited and enlarged by His own “power putting itself forth in us.” This participle is here, as in many other places, in the middle voice, the active voice being used by Paul in reference to a personal agent, and the middle employed when, as in this case, the idea of personality is sunk. “According to His power that proves or shows itself at work in us.” Winer, § 38, 6. That power has been again and again referred to in itself and in its results by the apostle. (Ephesians 1:19, Ephesians 3:16.) From our own blissful experience of what it has already achieved in us, we may gather that its Divine possessor and wielder can do for us “far beyond what we ask or think.” That might being God's, can achieve in us results which the boldest have not ventured to anticipate. So that, as is meet-
(Ephesians 3:21.) αὐτῷ ἡ δόξα ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ ἐν χριστῷ ᾿ιησοῦ—“To Him be glory in the church in Christ Jesus.” Such a pronoun, emphatic in position and from repetition, occurs in common Hebrew usage-a usage, however, not wholly Hebraistic, but often found in classic Greek, and very often in the Septuagint. Bernhardy, p. 290; Winer, § 22, 4. δόξα may, as an abstract noun, have the article prefixed; or the article may be used in what Bernhardy calls its “rhetorische form,” signifying the glory which is His especially, and due to Him confessedly, p. 315. The difference of reading is not of essential moment. Some MSS., such as A, B, and C, with the Coptic and Vulgate, supply καί before ἐν χ. ι., and this reading is preferred by Lachmann, Rückert, and Matthies, but refused by Tischendorf, while D1, F, G, with Ambrosiaster, reverse the order of the clauses, and read- ἐν χριστῷ ᾿ιησοῦ καὶ τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ. Koppe, on the authority of one MS., 46, is inclined to reject as spurious the whole clause- ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ. Harless and Olshausen show that these various readings have their sources in dogmatic views. It could not be borne by some that the church should stand before Christ, and the καί, without which there would be an asyndeton, was inserted in consequence of certain opinions as to the connection and meaning of the clause which follows it. Hofmann, Schriftb. vol. ii. part 2, p. 108, pleads for καί, and connects ἐν χριστῷ ᾿ιησοῦ with the following words, εἰς πάσας τὰς γενεάς, etc. The relation of the two clauses- ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ and ἐν χριστῷ ᾿ιησοῦ-has been variously understood:-
1. Luther, Michaelis, Koppe, Rosenmüller, Flatt, Meier, Holzhausen, Olshausen, and Stier, connect the words thus—“In the church which is in Christ Jesus.” Not to say that a second τῇ is wanting (Galatians 1:22),-which, however, in such a connection is not always repeated,-the meaning does not appear to be appropriate. The second clause has no immediate union with the one before it, but bears a relation to δόξα.
2. Some render ἐν χριστῷ by the words “through Christ”- διά, as in the interpretation of Theophylact; σύν, as in that of OEcumenius; per Christum, as in the paraphrase of Grotius, and the exegesis of Calvin and Beza, Rollock and Rückert. Such a translation is not in accordance with the usual meaning of the preposition. The passages adduced by Turner in denial of this are no proof, for in them ἐν, though instrumental, retains its distinctive meaning, and is not to be superficially confounded with διά.
3. The words seem to define the inner sphere or spirit in which the glory is presented to God. It is offered in the church, but it is, at the same time, offered “in Christ Jesus,” or presented by the members of the sacred community in the consciousness of union with Him, and by consequence in a spirit of dependence on Him. So generally Harless, Meyer, de Wette, Alford, and Ellicott. The place of doxology is the church, and the glory is hymned by its members, but the spirit of the song is inspired by oneness with Jesus. δόξα is the splendour of moral excellence, and in what place should such glory be ascribed but in the church, which has witnessed so much of it, and whose origination, life, blessings, and hopes are so many samples and outbursts of it? Ebrard, Dog. § 467. And how should it be presented? Not apart from Christ, or simply for His sake, but in Him-in thrilling fellowship with Him; for no other consciousness can inspire us with the sacred impulse, and praise of no other origin and character can be accepted by that God who is Himself in Christ. The glory is to be offered-
εἰς πάσας τὰς γενεὰς τοῦ αἰῶνος τῶν αἰώνων. ᾿αμήν—“to all the generations of the ages of the ages. Amen.” This remarkable accumulation of terms is an intensive formula denoting eternity. The apostle combines two phrases, both of which are used in the New Testament. εἰς γενεὰς γενεῶν-Luke 1:50 -is phraseology based upon the Hebrew דּוֹרדּוֹרִים. Psalms 72:5; Psalms 102:24. The other portion of the phrase occurs as in Galatians 1:5 - εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων (1 Peter 1:25), εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. Hebrews 5:6; Hebrews 6:20. We have also εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας in many places; and in the Septuagint, εἰς γενεὰν καὶ γενεάν, ἕως γενεᾶς καὶ γενεᾶς, ἐκ γενεᾶς εἰς γενεάν, εἰς γενεὰς γενεῶν. So ἕως αἰῶνος τῶν αἰώνων stands in Daniel 7:18 for the Chaldee עַדאּ עָלְמָא וַעַד עָלַםעָלְמַיָּא. This language, borrowed from the changes and succession of time, is employed to picture out eternity. It is a period of successive generations filling up the age, which again is an age of ages-or made up of a series of ages-a period composed of many periods; and through the cycles of such a period of periods, glory is to be ascribed to God. It is needless, with Meyer, to take γενεαί in a literal sense, or in reference to successive generations of living believers, for γενεά often simply means a period of time measured by the average life of man. Acts 14:16; Acts 15:21. The entire phrase is a temporal image of eternity. One wonders at de Wette's question—“Was the apostle warranted to expect such a long duration for the church?” For is not the church to be gathered into the heavens?
The obligation to glorify God lasts through eternity, and the glorified church will ever delight in rendering praise, “as is most due.” Eternal perfection will sustain an eternal anthem. The Trinity is here again brought out to view. The power within us is that of the Spirit, and glory in Christ is presented to the Father who answers prayer through the Son, and by the Spirit; and, therefore, to the Father, in the Son, and by the Spirit, is offered this glorious minstrelsy—“as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.”
“To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
The God whom heaven's triumphant host
And saints on earth adore,
Be glory as in ages past,
As now it is, and so shall last
When time shall be no more.”
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Eadie, John. "Commentary on Ephesians 3". John Eadie's Commentary on Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter