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1 And you hath he quickened , who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Ver. 1. Who were dead ] Natural men are living carcases, walking sepulchres of themselves. In most families it is, as once it was in Egypt, Exodus 12:30 , no house wherein there is not one, nay, many dead corpses. Howbeit, the natural man, though he be theologically dead, yet is ethically alive, being to be wrought upon by arguments; hence, Hosea 11:4 ; "I drew them by the cords of a man," that is, by reason and motives of love, befitting the nature of a man. So the Spirit and Word work upon us still as men by rational motives, setting before us life and good, death and evil.
2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Ver. 2. Wherein ye walked ] Hence, Acts 14:16 ; sin is called a way, but it leads to the chambers of death.
According to the course of this world ] The mundaneity or worldliness of the world (as the Syriac rendereth it), which is wholly set upon wickedness (as Aaron saith of his worldlings, Exo 32:22 ), and takes no care for the world to come.
According to the prince, &c. ] The devil, by whom wicked men are acted and agitated. Gratian was out in saying that Satan is called prince of the world, as a king of chess, or as the cardinal Ravenna, only by derision. Evil men set him up for their sovereign, and are wholly at his beck and obedience.
The spirit that now worketh ] As a smith worketh in his forge, an craftsman in his shop. A natural man as he is the heir of original and father of actual sin, so his soul and all the powers thereof are but Satan’s shop of sins; his body and all the parts thereof, tools of sin; his life, and all his actions of both soul and body, a trade of sin, by the same reason.
3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Ver. 3. Among whom also we all, &c. ] Let the best look back often on what they were before calling, that they may thankfully cry out with Iphicrates, εξ οιων εις οια , from what misery to what dignity are we advanced!
Fulfilling the desires ] Gr. the wills of the flesh. Now therefore we must as diligently fulfil not the will, but the wills of God, as David did, Acts 13:22 .
The children of wrath ] De ires. Gregory the Great said of the English boys that were presented to him, Angli quasi Angeli, English just as Angels. And demanding further what province they were of in this island, it was returned, that they were called De ires; which caused him again to repeat the word, and to say, that it were great pity but that by being taught the gospel, they should be saved de ira Dei, from the wrath of God. (Abbot’s Geog.) Whereunto we are subject, even as in nature a child is to the commands and restraints of his father; being damnati priusquam nati, as Augustine hath it, damned ere born into the world.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Ver. 4. But God, who is rich in mercy ] Such a mercy as rejoiceth against judgment, as a man against his adversary which he hath subdued,James 2:13; James 2:13 .
5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
Ver. 5. Hath quickened, &c. ] The very first stirrings in the womb of grace are precious to God; he blesseth our very buds,Isaiah 44:3; Isaiah 44:3 , according to the Geneva translation.
Even when we were dead ] This is again repeated, because hardly believed. We are apt to conceit better of ourselves than there is cause for, and can hardly be persuaded that we are dead in sins and trespasses, and lie rotting and stinking in the graves of corruption, much worse than Lazarus did after he had lain four days in his sepulchre. We would be sorry but our penny should be as good silver as another’s, and are ready, with the Pharisee, to set up our counter for a thousand pound. In fine, a dead woman we say must have four to carry her forth. A man shall have much ado to persuade the merry Greeks of this world, but that they have the only life of it, and that others are dead in comparison of them. Hence this iteration of the blow upon the natural man, to knock him down dead, as it were, to bring him to Paul’s pass, Romans 7:9 .
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
Ver. 6. And made us sit together ] We have taken up our rooms beforehand in heaven, whereunto we have just right upon earth by virtue of the union, the ground of communion,1 John 5:12; 1 John 5:12 . He that hath the Son hath life; he hath possession of it, as by turf and twig.
7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
Ver. 7. In his kindness toward us ] We come not to the knowledge of God but by his works. And even this way of knowing him we naturally abuse to idolatry.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Ver. 8. For by grace ye are saved ] So Ephesians 2:5 , and everywhere almost St Paul is a most constant preacher of the grace of God, as Chrysostom styleth him. Sub laudibus naturae latent inimici gratiae, saith Augustine. The patrons of man’s free will are enemies to God’s free grace.
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Ver. 9. Lest any man should boast ] As that fool did that said, Caelum gratis non accipiam, I will not have heaven but at a rate. (Vega.) Non sic Deos coluimus, aut sic vivimus, ut ille nos vinceret, said the emperor Antoninus Philosophus. We have not so lived and deserved of God that the enemy should vanquish us.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Ver. 10. For we are his workmanship ] ποιημα , his artificial facture, or creature, that wherein he hath showed singular skill, by erecting the glorious fabric of the new man.
Created-to good works ] In the year 1559 there was published a paradox, that good works are pernicious to salvation of men’s souls. David George, the broacher of this heresy, was dug up and burnt at Basil.
God hath before ordained ] i.e. By his eternal decree. Our vivification then is not a work of yesterday; but such as God hath with singular complacency contemplated from all eternity, rejoicing in that habitable part of his earth, Proverbs 8:31 .
11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
Ver. 11. Who are called uncircumcision ] In great scorn and reproach, as1 Samuel 17:26; 1 Samuel 17:26 . Howbeit unregenerate Israel was to God as Ethiopia, Amos 9:7 . And Jether, by nature an Ishmaelite, 1 Chronicles 7:17 , was for his faith and religion called an Israelite, 2 Samuel 17:25 .
12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
Ver. 12. Strangers from the covenant ] The saints only are heirs to the promises; but the devil sweeps all the wicked, as being out of the covenant. They stuff themselves with promises, till they have made them a pillow for sin, Deuteronomy 29:19 . Sed praesumendo sperant, et sperando pereunt.
Having no hope ] But such as will one day hop headless; such as will serve them as Absalom’s mule served her master, when she left him hanging by the head between heaven and earth, as rejected of both.
Without God in the world ] Because without a teaching priest, and without law,2 Chronicles 15:3; 2 Chronicles 15:3 . As it is said of the poor Brazilians at this day, that they are sine fide, sine rege, sine lege, without faith, without a king, without law. This was the case of our pagan predecessors.
13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
Ver. 13. Are made nigh by the blood ] Christ hath paved us a new and living way to the throne of God’s grace by his own most precious blood. Oh, happy lapidi pavium! jewel of the peacock. Oh, Golgotha become our Gabbatha!John 19:13; John 19:13 ; John 19:17 .
14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us ;
Ver. 14. For he is our peace ] That is, our peace maker and peace matter. a When he was born, there was among all nations a general aut pax, aut pactio, either peace or an agreement for peace, as Florus observeth. When he took his name, he would not have it either entirely Hebrew, as Jesus, or entirely Greek, as Christ, but both Jesus and Christ, to show (saith one) that he is our peace that hath reconciled two into one, &c.
a ειρηνη παρα το εις εν ειρειν .
15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
Ver. 15. Having abolished in his flesh ] That is, by his death in the flesh, Colossians 1:22 . At which time the veil rent, and the ceremonies died, only they were to be honourably buried.
For to make in himself ] Gr. "to create;" sc. by regeneration, Galatians 6:15 . So by conjoining he newly created them, and by newly creating he conjoined them.
16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
Ver. 16. In one body ] Ubi igitur Separatistae? Therefore, where are the separatists? saith one. All other sins destroy the Church consequentially; but division and separation demolish it directly.
Having slain the enmity ] Not the ceremonies only, as Ephesians 2:15 , but sin, that great makebate (mischief-maker), that sets God at odds with his own creature.
17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
Ver. 17. To them that were nigh ] That is, "the children of Israel, a people near unto him," Psalms 148:14 .
18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Ver. 18. We both have an access ] With good assurance of success. The Persian kings held it a piece of their silly glory to hold off their best friends, who might not come near them but upon special licence, Ezra 4:11 . Not so our king. "Oh, come, for the Master calleth thee!"
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
Ver. 19. Fellow citizens with the saints ] Paul, as a citizen of Rome, escaped whipping, Acts 22:6 ; we, as citizens with the saints, escape hell tortures and torments.
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone ;
Ver. 20. Upon the foundation ] Foundation is taken either for Christ, 1 Corinthians 3:11 ; Matthew 16:16 , or the doctrine of the Scriptures which teach salvation only by Jesus Christ, as here and Revelation 21:14 .
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
Ver. 21. Fitly framed together ] Or, perfectly joined together by the cement of the Holy Spirit, working in the saints faith in Christ and love one toward another, which the apostle calleth the bond of perfection.
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Ver. 22. For a habitation of God, &c. ] The Father makes choice of this house, the Son purchaseth it, the Holy Ghost taketh possession of it. This happiness he best understandeth that most feeleth. The cock on the dunghill knows it not.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Ephesians 2". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent