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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Ephesians 1

 

 

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Verse 1

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Ver. 1. To the saints-to the faithful] Fitly; for it is by faith that we become saints, Acts 15:9.


Verse 2

2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ver. 2. Grace be to you, and peace] These go fitly together; because we must seek our peace in the free grace and favour of God. The ark and mercy seat were never sundered.


Verse 3

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

Ver. 3. Blessed be God] Gratiae cessat decursus, ubi gratiarum recursus. A thankful man shall abound with blessings.

With all spiritual blessings] εν παση ευλογια πνευματικη, wisdom, prudence, &c., Ephesians 1:8, a Benjamin’s portion, a goodly heritage; called here spiritual blessing in the singular. All, and yet but one blessing; to note that spiritual blessings are so knit together, that they all make up but one blessing; and where God gives one, he gives all.


Verse 4

4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Ver. 4. He hath chosen us in him] Christ was mediator therefore from eternity, viz. by virtue of that human nature which he should assume.

That we should be holy] God elected us as well to the means as to the end. Note this against libertines. For as they {Acts 27:31} could not come safe to land that left the ship; so neither can men come to heaven but by holiness. Cyrus was moved to restore the captivity by finding himself before appointed to this glorious service 170 years before he was born, Isaiah 44:28. Should not we likewise be excited to good works by this that we were elected to them?

Without blame] Or blot, Ephesians 5:27. Absque querela, Luke 1:6.

Before him] i.e. In purity of heart, 2 Kings 20:3.

In love] In sanctity of life.


Verse 5

5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Ver. 5. Having predestinated us] Interpreters have observed that this word that signifies to predestinate is but six times to be found in the New Testament (never in the Old), being referred but twice to things, Acts 4:28; 1 Corinthians 2:7, four times to persons, Romans 8:29-30, Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 1:11, and never applied to reprobates, but to elect persons only. Howbeit divines under predestination do usually consider the decree both of election and reprobation. The doctrine hereof men should not adventure to teach till they have well learned and digested it. In the year 1586, Jacobus Andreas, the Lutheran, and Theodore Beza, conferred and disputed for eight days’ time at Montpelier: the issue of which conference was unhappy, for from that time forward the doctrine of predestination was much misused and exagitated. (Alsted. Chron.)


Verse 6

6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

Ver. 6. To the praise of the glory] This is the end whereunto it is destined; and hence it is called predestination. Note here, that all the causes of predestination are merely without us. The efficient, God; the material, Christ; the formal, the good pleasure of his will; the final, the praise of God’s glorious grace.

Wherein he hath made us accepted] Gr. εχαριτωσεν, He hath ingratiated us, he hath justified us, made us gracious in his beloved Son our Mediator, gratificavit. And although there be an inequality of expressions in duty, quoad nos, in us, yet there is a constancy of worth and intercession by Christ, propter nos, for us. Pareus rendereth these words thus, Nos sibi gratis effecit gratos, He hath freely made us well thought of.


Verse 7

7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Ver. 7. In whom we have redemption] As captives ransomed at a price. What this price was, see 1 Peter 1:19. Should not Christ therefore reap the travails of his soul? Isaiah 53:11-12

The forgiveness of our sins] This David counted his crown, and prized it above his imperial diadem, Psalms 103:3-4.


Verse 8

8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

Ver. 8. In all wisdom and prudence] That properly respecteth contemplation, this action. Socrates made no distinction between them. For, said he, who so knoweth good to practise it, and evil to avoid it, he is a man truly wise and prudent.


Verse 9

9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

Ver. 9. The mystery of his will] That is, the gospel, a mystery both to men, 1 Corinthians 2:8, and angels, Ephesians 3:10.


Verse 10

10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

Ver. 10. That in the dispensation] God is the best economic; his house is exactly ordered for matter of good husbandry, οικονομια. "Dispensation of the fulness of time" is (by a metonmy {a} of the adjunct) put for "fulness of times," wisely dispensed. (Bain.)

Gather together in one] Gr. ανακεφαλαιωσασθαι, recapitulate, reduce all to a head, recollect, to restore all things, and bring them to their primitive perfection.

Both which are in heaven] The crowned saints, and perhaps the glorious angels, who (according to some divines) being in themselves changeable creatures (and therefore called Shinan, that is, mutable, Psalms 68:17), receive confirmation by Christ, so that they cannot leave their first station, as did the apostate angels. Others think that the angels stand not by means of Christ’s mediation, but of God’s eternal election, and are therefore called the elect angels.

{a} A figure of speech which consists in substituting for the name of a thing the name of an attribute of it or of something closely related. ŒD


Verse 11

11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

Ver. 11. We have obtained inheritance] Or we are taken into the Church, as magistrates were by lot into their office. Or we are made God’s inheritance, as Deuteronomy 32:9. It imports our free and unexpected vocation. In sortem adsciti sumus, εκληρωθημεν; we were sorted out, singled out for a picked peculiar people.

After the counsel of his own will] God doth all by counsel, and ever hath a reason of his will, which though we see not for the present, we shall at the last day. Meanwhile submit.


Verse 12

12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

Ver. 12. Who first trusted] It is a singular honour to be first in so good a matter. Hope is here put for faith, whereof it is both the daughter and the nurse.


Verse 13

13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Ver. 13. After that ye believed] They, 1. Heard. 2. Believed. 3. Were sealed, i.e. full assured. Assurance is God’s seal; faith is our seal God honours our sealing to his truth by his sealing by his Spirit. We yield first the consent and assent of faith, and then God puts his seal to the contract. There must be the bargain before the earnest.


Verse 14

14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Ver. 14. Which is the earnest] Not the pawn, but the earnest, Quia pignus redditur, arrha retinetur, saith Jerome. A pawn is to be returned again, but an earnest is part of the whole sum, and assures it. We here have eternal life, 1. In pretio; In reward, 2. In promisso; In promise, 3. In primitiis, In the firstfruits.


Verse 15

15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,

Ver. 15. Your faith in the Lord Jesus] Love is the fruit of faith, therefore the apostles pray for increase of faith, that they might be able seven times a day to forgive an offending brother, Luke 17:5. {See Trapp on "Luke 17:5"}


Verse 16

16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;

Ver. 16. Making mention of you] Whether a minister shall do more good to others by his prayers or preaching, I will not determine (saith a grave divine), but he shall certainly by his prayers reap more comfort to himself.


Verse 17

17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

Ver. 17. The Father of glory] That is, the glorious Father, Acts 7:2. Chrysostom expounds it the Father of Christ, as Ephesians 1:3.

The Spirit of wisdom and revelation] So called, because he revealeth unto us God’s depths, and reads us his riddles, 1 Corinthians 2:9-16. He enlightens both the organ and object; he anoints the eyes with eyesalve, and gives both sight and light. (Saint’s Progress, by Dr Taylor.)


Verse 18

18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

Ver. 18. The glory of his inheritance] The glory of heaven is inconceivable, Revelation 21:1-27, search is made through all the bowels of the earth for something to shadow it by. No natural knowledge can be had of the third heaven, nor any help by human arts, as Aristotle acknowledges. The glory thereof is fitter to be believed than possible to be discoursed.


Verse 19

19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

Ver. 19. And what is the exceeding] Here is a most emphatic heap of most divine and significant words to express that which can never sufficiently be conceived or uttered. A sixfold gradation the apostle useth to show what a power God puts forth in working the grace of faith. Indeed this power is secret, and like that of the heavens upon our bodies; which (saith one) is as strong as that of medicine, &c., yet so sweet, and so secretly insinuating itself with the principles of nature, that as for the conveyance of it, it is insensible, and hardly differenced from that of the principles of nature in us; therefore the apostle prayeth for these Ephesians here, that their eyes may be enlightened to see the power that wrought in them, &c.


Verse 20

20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

Ver. 20. Which he wrought in Christ] God puts forth the same almighty power in quickening the heart by faith, that he did in raising up his Son Christ from the dead; it must needs then be more than a moral suasion that he useth. Christ wrought the centurion’s faith, as God; he wondered at it, as man. God wrought, and man marvelled; he did both, to teach us where to bestow our wonder.


Verse 21

21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:

Ver. 21. Far above all principality] Quantum inter stellas luna minores. Oh, do but think with thyself (saith oue), though it far pass the reach of any mortal thought, what an infinite, inexplicable happiness it will be to look for ever upon the glorious body of Jesus Christ, shining with incomprehensible beauty; and to consider that even every vein of that blessed body bled to bring thee to heaven; and that it being with such excess of glory hypostatically united to the second person in Trinity, hath honoured and advanced thy nature above the brightest cherub.

To be the head over all things] That is, all persons, all the elect, as Galatians 3:22. Christ is head over angels too, but in another sense than over the Church: viz. 1. As God, he giveth them whatsoever they are or have. 2. As Mediator also, he maketh use of their service for the safety and salvation of the Church. The holy angels are great friends to the Church, but not members of it; "For Christ took not on him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham," Hebrews 2:16. Besides "he sanctified his Church, and washed it with his blood," Ephesians 5:26. But this he did not for the angels, &c. {See Trapp on "Ephesians 1:10"}


Verse 23

22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

Ver. 23. The fulness of him] That is, of Christ, who having voluntarily subjected himself to be our Head, accounts not himself complete without his members. In which respect we have the honour of making Christ perfect as the members do the body.

That filleth all in all] Not only all the saints, but all of the saints; all their capacities, all their powers, parts, desires, endeavours. Thus he filleth παντα, εν πασι, all, and in all ordinances, occurrences, providences, relations, comforts, &c.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Ephesians 1:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/ephesians-1.html. 1865-1868.


Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 23rd, 2017
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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