Attention!
Partner with StudyLight.org as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Ephesians 1

Verse 1

Of Christ Jesus (Χριστου Ιησου). So B D, though Aleph A L have Ιησου Χριστου. Paul is named as the author and so he is. Otherwise the Epistle is pseudepigraphic.

By the will of God (δια θεληματος θεου). As in 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Romans 1:1.

At Ephesus (εν Εφεσω). In Aleph and B these words are inserted by later hands, though both MSS. give the title Προς Εφεσιους. Origen explains the words τοις αγιοις τοις ουσιν as meaning "the saints that are" (genuine saints), showing that his MSS. did not have the words εν Εφεσω. The explanation of the insertion of these words has already been given in the remarks on "The Destination" as one copy of the general letter that was preserved in Ephesus. It is perfectly proper to call it the Epistle to the Ephesians if we understand the facts.

Verse 3

Blessed (ευλογητος). Verbal of ευλογεω, common in the LXX for Hebrew baruk (Vulgate benedictus) and applied usually to God, sometimes to men (Genesis 24:31), but in N.T. always to God (Luke 1:68), while ευλογημενος (perfect passive participle) is applied to men (Luke 1:42). "While ευλογημενος points to an isolated act or acts, ευλογητος describes the intrinsic character" (Lightfoot). Instead of the usual ευχαριστουμεν (Colossians 1:3) Paul here uses ευλογητος, elsewhere only in 2 Corinthians 1:3 in opening, though in a doxology in Romans 1:25; Romans 9:5; 2 Corinthians 11:31. The copula here is probably εστιν (is), though either εστω (imperative) or ειη (optative as wish) will make sense.

The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (ο θεος κα πατηρ του Κυριου ημων Ιησου Χριστου). Κα is genuine here, though not in Colossians 1:3. The one article (ο) with θεος κα πατηρ links them together as in 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:11; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Galatians 1:4. See also the one article in 2 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 1:11. In Ephesians 1:17 we have ο θεος του Κυριου ημων Ιησου Χριστου, and the words of Jesus in John 20:17.

Who hath blessed us (ο ευλογησας υμας). First aorist active participle of ευλογεω, the same word, antecedent action to the doxology (ευλογητος).

With (εν). So-called instrumental use of εν though

in is clear.

Every spiritual blessing (παση ευλογια πνευματικη). Third use of the root ευλογ (verbal, verb, substantive). Paul lovingly plays with the idea. The believer is a citizen of heaven and the spiritual blessings count for most to him.

In the heavenly places in Christ (εν τοις επουρανιοις εν Χριστω). In four other places in Eph. (Ephesians 1:20; Ephesians 2:6; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 6:12). This precise phrase (with εν) occurs nowhere else in the N.T. and has a clearly local meaning in Ephesians 1:20; Ephesians 2:6; Ephesians 3:10, doubtful in Ephesians 6:12, but probably so here. In Ephesians 2:6 the believer is conceived as already seated with Christ. Heaven is the real abode of the citizen of Christ's kingdom (Philippians 3:20) who is a stranger on earth (Philippians 1:27; Ephesians 2:19). The word επουρανιος (heavenly) occurs in various passages in the N.T. in contrast with τα επιγεια (the earthly) as in John 3:12; 1 Corinthians 15:40; 1 Corinthians 15:48; 1 Corinthians 15:49; Philippians 2:10, with πατρις (country) in Hebrews 11:16, with κλησις (calling) in Hebrews 3:1, with δωρεα (gift) in Hebrews 6:4, with βασιλεια (kingdom) in 2 Timothy 4:18.

Verse 4

Even as he chose us in him (καθως εξελεξατο ημας εν αυτω). First aorist middle indicative of εκλεγω, to pick out, to choose. Definitive statement of God's elective grace concerning believers in Christ.

Before the foundation of the world (προ καταβολης κοσμου). Old word from καταβαλλω, to fling down, used of the deposit of seed, the laying of a foundation. This very phrase with προ in the Prayer of Jesus (John 17:24) of love of the Father toward the Son. It occurs also in 1 Peter 1:20. Elsewhere we have απο (from) used with it (Matthew 25:34; Luke 11:50; Hebrews 4:3; Hebrews 9:26; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8). But Paul uses neither phrase elsewhere, though he has απο των αιωνων (from the ages) in Ephesians 3:9. Here in Ephesians 1:3-14. Paul in summary fashion gives an outline of his view of God's redemptive plans for the race.

That we should be (εινα ημας). Infinitive of purpose with the accusative of general reference (ημας). See Colossians 1:22 for the same two adjectives and also κατενωπιον αυτου.

Verse 5

Having foreordained us (Προορισας ημας). First aorist active participle of προοριζω, late and rare compound to define or decide beforehand. Already in Acts 4:28; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Romans 8:29. See also verse Ephesians 1:11. Only other N.T. example in verse Ephesians 1:11. To be taken with εξελεξατο either simultaneous or antecedent (causal).

Unto adoption as sons (εις υιοθεσιαν). For this interesting word see Galatians 4:5; Romans 8:15; Romans 9:4.

Unto himself (εις αυτον). Unto God.

According to the good pleasure of his will (κατα την ευδοκιαν του θεληματος αυτου). Here ευδοκιαν means

purpose like βουλην in verse Ephesians 1:11 rather than

benevolence (good pleasure). Note the preposition κατα here for standard.

Verse 6

To the praise (εις επαινον). Note the prepositions in this sentence.

Which (ης). Genitive case of the relative ην (cognate accusative with εχαριτωσεν (he freely bestowed), late verb χαριτοω (from χαρις, grace), in N.T. attracted to case of antecedent χαριτος only here and Luke 1:28.

In the Beloved (εν τω ηγαπημενω). Perfect passive participle of αγαπαω. This phrase nowhere else in the N.T. though in the Apostolic Fathers.

Verse 7

In whom (εν ω). Just like Colossians 1:14 with παραπτωματων (trespasses) in place of αμαρτιων (sins) and with the addition of δια του αιματος αυτου (through his blood) as in Colossians 1:20. Clearly Paul makes the blood of Christ the cost of redemption, the ransom money (λυτρον, Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; αντιλυτρον, 1 Timothy 2:6). See Colossians 1:9.

Verse 8

According to the riches of his grace (κατα το πλουτος της χαριτος αυτου). A thoroughly Pauline phrase, riches of kindness (Romans 2:4), riches of glory (Colossians 1:27; Ephesians 3:16; Philippians 4:19), riches of fulness of understanding (Colossians 2:7), riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8), and in Ephesians 2:7 "the surpassing riches of grace."

Which (ης). Genitive attracted again to case of antecedent χαριτος.

Verse 9

The mystery of his will (το μυστηριον του θεληματος αυτου). Once hidden, now revealed as in Colossians 1:26 which see. See also Colossians 2:3.

Which he purposed (ην προεθετο). Second aorist middle of προτιθημ, old verb, for which see Romans 1:13; Romans 3:25.

Verse 10

Unto a dispensation of the fulness of the times (εις οικονομιαν του πληρωματος των καιρων). See Colossians 1:25 for οικονομιαν. In Galatians 4:4 "the fulness of the time" (το πληρωμα του χρονου) the time before Christ is treated as a unit, here as a series of epochs (καιρων). Cf. Mark 1:15; Hebrews 1:1. On πληρωμα see also Romans 11:26; Ephesians 3:19; Ephesians 4:13.

To sum up (ανακεφαλαιωσασθα). Purpose clause (amounting to result) with first aorist middle infinitive of ανακεφαλαιοω, late compound verb ανα and κεφαλαιοω (from κεφαλαιον, Hebrews 8:1, and that from κεφαλη, head), to head up all things in Christ, a literary word. In N.T. only here and Romans 13:9. For the headship of Christ in nature and grace see Colossians 1:15-20.

Verse 11

In him (εν αυτω). Repeats the idea of εν τω Χριστω of verse Ephesians 1:10.

We were made a heritage (εκληρωθημεν). First aorist passive of κληροω, an old word, to assign by lot (κληρος), to make a κληρος or heritage. So in LXX and papyri. Only time in N.T., though προσκληροω once also (Acts 17:4).

Purpose (προθεσιν). Common substantive from προτιθημ, a setting before as in Acts 11:23; Acts 27:13.

Verse 12

To the end that we should be (εις το εινα ημας). Final clause with εις to and the infinitive εινα (see the mere infinitive εινα in verse Ephesians 1:4) and the accusative of general reference.

Who had before hoped in Christ (τους προηλπικοτας εν τω Χριστω). Articular perfect active participle of προελπιζω, late and rare compound (here only in N.T.) and the reference of προ not clear. Probably the reference is to those who like Paul had once been Jews and had now found the Messiah in Jesus, some of whom like Simeon and Anna had even looked for the spiritual Messiah before his coming.

Verse 13

Ye also (κα υμεις). Ye Gentiles (now Christians), in contrast to ημας (we) in Ephesians 1:12.

In whom (εν ω). Repeated third time (once in verse Ephesians 1:11, twice in Ephesians 1:13), and note ο or ος in Ephesians 1:14.

Ye were sealed (εσφραγισθητε). First aorist passive indicative of σφραγιζω, old verb, to set a seal on one as a mark or stamp, sometimes the marks of ownership or of worship of deities like στιγματα (Galatians 6:17). Marked and authenticated as God's heritage as in Ephesians 4:30. See 2 Corinthians 1:22 for the very use of the metaphor here applied to the Holy Spirit even with the word αρραβων (earnest).

Spirit (πνευματ). In the instrumental case.

Verse 14

An earnest (αρραβων). See 2 Corinthians 1:22 for discussion of αρραβων. Here "of promise" (της επαγγελιας) is added to the Holy Spirit to show that Gentiles are also included in God's promise of salvation.

Of our inheritance (της κληρονομιας ημων). God's gift of the Holy Spirit is the pledge and first payment for the final inheritance in Christ.

Of God's own possession (της περιποιησεως). The word

God's is not in the Greek, but is implied. Late and rare word (from περιποιεω, to make a survival) with the notion of obtaining (1 Thessalonians 5:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:14) and then of preserving (so in the papyri). So in 1 Peter 2:9; Hebrews 10:39, and here. God has purchased us back to himself. The sealing extends (εις) to the redemption and to the glory of God.

Verse 15

And which ye shew toward all the saints (κα την εις παντας τους αγιους). The words "ye show" do not occur in the Greek. The Textus Receptus has τεν αγαπην (the love) before την supported by D G K L Syr., Lat., Copt., but Aleph A B P Origen do not have the word αγαπην. It could have been omitted, but is probably not genuine. The use of the article referring to πιστιν and the change from εν to εις probably justifies the translation "which ye shew toward."

Verse 16

I do not cease (ου παυομα). Singular present middle, while in Colossians 1:9 Paul uses the plural (literary, or including Timothy), ου παυομεθα.

Verse 17

The Father of glory (ο πατηρ της δοξης). The God characterized by glory (the Shekinah, Hebrews 9:5) as in Acts 7:2; 1 Corinthians 2:8; 2 Corinthians 1:3; James 2:1.

That--may give (ινα--δωιη). In Colossians 1:9 ινα is preceded by αιτουμενο, but here the sub-final use depends on the general idea asking in the sentence. The form δωιη is a late Koine optative (second aorist active) for the usual δοιη. It occurs also in 2 Thessalonians 3:16; Romans 15:5; 2 Timothy 1:16; 2 Timothy 1:18 in the text of Westcott and Hort. Here B 63 read δω (like John 15:16) second aorist active subjunctive, the form naturally looked for after a primary tense (παυομα). This use of the volitive optative with ινα after a primary tense is rare, but not unknown in ancient Greek.

A spirit of wisdom and revelation (πνευμα σοφιας κα αποκαλυψεως). The Revised Version does not refer this use of πνευμα to the Holy Spirit (cf. Galatians 6:1; Romans 8:15), but it is open to question if it is possible to obtain this wisdom and revelation apart from the Holy Spirit.

In the knowledge of him (εν επιγνωσε αυτου). In the full knowledge of Christ as in Colossians.

Verse 18

Having the eyes of your heart enlightened (πεφωτισμενους τους οφθαλμους της καρδιας υμων). A beautiful figure, the heart regarded as having eyes looking out toward Christ. But the grammar is difficult. There are three possible interpretations. One is an anacoluthon, the case of πεφωτισμενους being changed from the dative υμιν (to you) to the accusative because of the following infinitive like εκλεξαμενους (Acts 15:22) after αποστολοις. Another way of explaining it is to regard it as a tertiary predicate of δωιη, a loose expansion of πνευμα. The third way is to regard the construction as the accusative absolute, a rare idiom possible in Acts 26:3; 1 Corinthians 16:3; 1 Timothy 2:6. In this case, the participle merely agrees with τους οφθαλμους, not with υμιν, "the eyes of your heart having been enlightened." Otherwise τους οφθαλμους is the accusative retained after the passive participle.

That ye may know (εις το ειδενα). Final use of εις το and the infinitive (second perfect of οιδα) as in verse Ephesians 1:12. Note three indirect questions after ειδενα (what the hope τις η ελπις, what the riches τις ο πλουτος, and what the surpassing greatness κα τ το υπερβαλλον μεγεθος). When the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of the heart, one will be able to see all these great truths.

In the saints (εν τοις αγιοις). Our riches is in God, God's is in his saints.

Verse 19

The exceeding greatness of his power (το υπερβαλλον μεγεθος της δυναμεως αυτου). Μεγεθος is an old word (from μεγας), but here only in N.T. Hυπερβαλλον, present active participle of υπερβαλλω, reappears in Ephesians 2:7; Ephesians 3:19 and seen already in 2 Corinthians 3:10; 2 Corinthians 9:14. To enlightened eyes the greatness of God's power is even more "surpassing."

Verse 20

Which he wrought (ενηργηκεν). Reading of A B rather than aorist ενηργησεν. Perfect active indicative, "which he has wrought." Hην is cognate accusative of the relative referring to ενεργειαν (energy) with ενηργηκεν and note also κρατους (strength) and ισχυος (might), three words trying to express what surpasses (υπερβαλλον) expression or comprehension.

Made him to sit (καθισας). First aorist active participle of καθιζω in causative sense as in 1 Corinthians 6:4. Metaphorical local expression like δεξια and εν τοις επουρ ανιοις.

Verse 21

Far above all rule (υπερανω πασης αρχης). Late compound adverbial preposition (υπερ, ανω) with the ablative case. In N.T. only here and Hebrews 9:5. As in Colossians 1:16, so here Paul claims primacy for Jesus Christ above all angels, aeons, what not. These titles all were used in the Gnostic speculations with a graduated angelic hierarchy.

World (αιων). "Age." See this identical expression in Matthew 12:32 for the present time (Galatians 1:4; 1 Timothy 6:17) and the future life (Ephesians 2:7; Luke 20:35). Both combined in Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30.

Verse 22

He put all things in subjection (παντα υπεταξεν). First aorist active indicative of υποτασσω, quoted from Psalms 8:7 as in 1 Corinthians 15:27.

Gave him to be head (αυτον εδωκεν κεφαλην).

Gave (εδωκεν, first aorist active indicative of διδωμ) to the church (the universal spiritual church or kingdom as in Colossians 1:18; Colossians 1:24) Christ as Head (κεφαλην, predicate accusative). This conception of εκκλησια runs all through Ephesians (Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 3:21; Ephesians 5:23; Ephesians 5:24; Ephesians 5:25; Ephesians 5:27; Ephesians 5:29; Ephesians 5:32).

Verse 23

Which (ητις). "Which in fact is," explanatory use of ητις rather than η.

The fulness of him that filleth all in all (το πληρωμα του τα παντα εν πασιν πληρουμενου). This is probably the correct translation of a much disputed phrase. This view takes πληρωμα in the passive sense (that which is filled, as is usual, Colossians 1:19) and πληρουμενου as present middle participle, not passive. All things are summed up in Christ (Ephesians 1:10), who is the πληρωμα of God (Colossians 1:19), and in particular does Christ fill the church universal as his body. Hence we see in Ephesians the Dignity of the Body of Christ which is ultimately to be filled with the fulness (πληρωμα) of God (Ephesians 3:19) when it grows up into the fulness (πληρωμα) of Christ (Ephesians 4:13; Ephesians 4:16).

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Ephesians 1". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/ephesians-1.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.