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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies
Ephesians 1



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Verse 1

By the will of God

As frequently in the introductions of the epistles, to emphasize his divine appointment. In Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1, called is added.

To the saints

See on Romans 1:7; see on Colossians 1:2; see on Philemon 1:1.

At Ephesus

There is much discussion as to the genuineness of these words. They are bracketed by both Westcott and Hort, and Tischendorf. On their omission or retention turns the question whether the epistle was addressed to the church at Ephesus, or was a circular epistle, addressed to Ephesus along with several other churches. For Ephesus, see on Revelation 2:1.

The faithful

Not faithful in the sense of fidelity and perseverance, but believing, as John 20:27; Acts 10:45. It is to be included with the saints under the one article.

Verse 2


One of the leading words of the epistle. It is used thirteen times.

Verse 3

Blessed ( εὐλογητὸς )

Placed first in the clause for emphasis, as always in the corresponding Hebrew in the Old Testament. The verb is commonly omitted - blessed the God. In the New Testament used of God only. The perfect participle of the verb, εὐλογημένος blessedis used of men. See on 1 Peter 1:3. The word differs from that used in the Beatitudes, μακάριος . which denotes character, while this word denotes repute. Lit., well-spoken of.

God and Father of our Lord, etc.

Some object to this rendering on the ground that the phrase God of Christ is unusual, occurring nowhere in Paul, except Ephesians 1:17of this chapter. Such render, God who is also the Father, etc. But Christ of God is found Matthew 27:46; and my God, John 20:17; Revelation 3:12. Compare, also, 1 Corinthians 3:23; and the phrase is undoubted in Ephesians 1:17.

Hath blessed ( εὐλογήσας )

Kindred with εὐλογητὸς blessedSpiritual ( πνευματικῇ )

Another leading word. Spirit and spiritual occur thirteen times. Paul emphasizes in this epistle the work of the divine Spirit upon the human spirit. Not spiritual as distinguished from bodily, but proceeding from the Holy Spirit. Note the collocation of the words, blessed, blessed, blessing.

In the heavenly places ( ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις )

Another keyword; one of the dominant thoughts of the epistle being the work of the ascended Christ. Places is supplied, the Greek meaning in the heavenlies. Some prefer to supply things, as more definitely characterizing spiritual blessing. But in the four other passages where the phrase occurs, Ephesians 1:20; Ephesians 2:6; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 6:12, the sense is local, and ἐπουράνιος heavenlyis local throughout Paul's epistles. The meaning is that the spiritual blessings of God are found in heaven and are brought thence to us. Compare Philemon 3:20.

Verse 4

Even as ( καθὼς )

Explaining blessed us, in Ephesians 1:3. His blessing is in conformity with the fact that He chose.

Chose ( ἐξελέξατο )

Middle voice, for himself.

In Him

As the head and representative of our spiritual humanity. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:22. Divine election is in Christ the Redeemer. The crown of divine sovereignty is redemption. God rules the world to save it.

Holy and without blame ( ἁγίους καὶ ἀμώμους )

The positive and negative aspects of christian life. See on Colossians 1:22. Rev., without blemish. The reference is to moral rather than to forensic righteousness. Compare 1 Thessalonians 4:7.

In love

Join with foreordained, Ephesians 1:5. Having in love foreordained.

Verse 5

Having predestinated ( προορίσας )

Rev. foreordained. From πρό before ὁρίζω todefine, the latter word being from ὅπος aboundary. Hence to define or determine beforehand.

Adoption ( υἱοθεσίαν )

See on Romans 8:15. Never used of Christ.

Good pleasure ( εὐδοκίαν )

Not strictly in the sense of kindly or friendly feeling, as Luke 2:14; Philemon 1:15, but because it pleased Him, see Luke 10:21; Matthew 11:26. The other sense, however, is included and implied, and is expressed by in love.

Verse 6

To the praise of the glory of His grace

The ultimate aim of foreordained. Glory is an attribute of grace: that in which grace grandly and resplendently displays itself. Praise is called forth from the children of God by this divine glory which thus appears in grace. The grace is not merely favor, gift, but it reveals also the divine character. In praising God for what He does, we learn to praise Him for what He is. Glory is another of the ruling words of the epistle, falling into the same category with riches and fullness. The apostle is thrilled with a sense of the plenitude and splendor of the mystery of redemption.

Wherein He hath made us accepted ( ἐν ᾗ ἐχαρίτωσεν ἡμᾶς )

The correct reading is ἧς whichreferring to grace. The meaning is not endued us with grace, nor made us worthy of love, but, as Rev., grace - which he freely bestowed. Grace is an act of God, not a state into which He brings us.

The beloved

Christ. Beloved par excellence. Compare the Son of His love, Colossians 1:13; also Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5.

Verse 7

We have

Or are having. The freely bestowed (Ephesians 1:6) is thus illustrated by experience. The divine purpose is being accomplished in the lives of believers.

Redemption ( τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν )

See on Romans 3:24. Note the article: our redemption.

Through His blood

Further defining and explaining in whom.

Forgiveness ( ἄφεσιν )

See on Luke 3:3; see on James 5:15; see on Romans 3:25. Forgiveness specifies the peculiar quality of redemption.

Sins ( παραπτωμάτων )

Rev., better, trespasses. See on Matthew 6:14.


See on glory, Ephesians 1:6, and Romans 2:4.

Verse 8

Wherein He hath abounded ( ἧς ἐπερίσσευσεν )

Rev., correctly, which He made to abound. The verb is used both transitively and intransitively in the New Testament. The transitive use belongs mainly to later Greek. Compare, for the transitive sense, Matthew 13:12; 2 Corinthians 4:15.

In all wisdom and prudence ( ἐν πάσῃ σοφίᾳ καὶ φρονήσει )

For wisdom, see on Romans 11:33. For prudence, on Luke 1:17. The latter is an attribute or result of wisdom, concerned with its practical applications. Both words refer here to men, not to God: the wisdom and prudence with which He abundantly endows His followers. Compare Colossians 1:9. All wisdom is, properly, every kind of wisdom.

Verse 9

Having made known

The participle is explanatory of which He made to abound, etc.: in that He made known.

The mystery of His will

For mystery, see on Romans 11:25; see on Colossians 1:26. Another key-word of this epistle. God's grace as manifested in redemption is a mystery in virtue of its riches and depth - as the expression of God's very nature. The mystery of the redemption in Christ, belonging to the eternal plan of God, could be known to men only through revelation - making known. Of his will; pertaining to his will. Compare Ephesians 3:9.

Purposed ( προέθετο )

Only here, Romans 1:13; Romans 3:25(note).

In Himself ( ἐν αὑτῷ )

The best texts read αὐτῷ inHim; but the reference is clearly to God, not to Christ, who is expressly mentioned in the next verse.

Verse 10

That in the dispensation, etc. ( εἰς οἰκονομίαν )

The A.V. is faulty and clumsy. Εἱς does not mean in, but unto, with a view to. Dispensation has no article. The clause is directly connected with the preceding: the mystery which He purposed in Himself unto a dispensation. For οἰκονομία dispensationsee on Colossians 1:25. Here and Ephesians 3:2, of the divine regulation, disposition, economy of things.

Of the fullness of times ( τοῦ πληρώματος τῶν καιρῶν )

For fullness, see on Romans 11:12; see on John 1:16; see on Colossians 1:19. For times, compare Galatians 4:4, “fullness of the time ( τοῦ χρόνου ), where the time before Christ is conceived as a unit. Here the conception is of a series of epochs. The fullness of the times is the moment when the successive ages of the gospel dispensation are completed. The meaning of the whole phrase, then, is: a dispensation characterized: by the fullness of the times: set forth when the times are full.

To sum up all things in Christ ( ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι )

Explanatory of the preceding phrase; showing in what the dispensation consists. For the word, see on Romans 13:9. It means to bring back to and gather round the main point ( κεφαλαίον ), not the head ( κεφαλή ); so that, in itself, it does not indicate Christ (the Read) as the central point of regathering, though He is so in fact. That is expressed by the following in Christ. The compounded preposition ἀνά signifies again, pointing back to a previous condition where no separation existed. All things. All created beings and things; not limited to intelligent beings. Compare Romans 8:21; 1 Corinthians 15:28.

The connection of the whole is as follows: God made known the mystery of His will, the plan of redemption, according to His own good pleasure, in order to bring to pass an economy peculiar to that point of time when the ages of the christian dispensation should be fulfilled - an economy which should be characterized by the regathering of all things round one point, Christ.

God contemplates a regathering, a restoration to that former condition when all things were in perfect unity, and normally combined to serve God's ends. This unity was broken by the introduction of sin. Man's fall involved the unintelligent creation (Romans 8:20). The mystery of God's will includes the restoration of this unity in and through Christ; one kingdom on earth and in heaven - a new heaven and a new earth in which shall dwell righteousness, and “the creation shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.”

Verse 11

In Him

Resuming emphatically: in Christ.

We have obtained an inheritance ( ἐκληρώθημεν )

Only here in the New Testament. From κλῆρος alot. Hence the verb means literally to determine, choose, or assign by lot. From the custom of assigning portions of land by lot, κλῆρος acquires the meaning of that which is thus assigned; the possession or portion of land. So often in the Old Testament. See Sept., Numbers 34:14; Deuteronomy 3:18; Deuteronomy 15:4, etc. An heir ( κληρονόμος ) is originally one who obtains by lot. The A.V. here makes the verb active where it should be passive. The literal sense is we were designated as a heritage. So Rev., correctly, were made a heritage. Compare Deuteronomy 4:20, a people of inheritance ( λαὸν ἔγκληρον ). Also Deuteronomy 32:8, Deuteronomy 32:9.

Verse 12

That we should be

Connect with we were made a heritage.

Who first trusted ( τοὺς προηλπικότας )

In apposition with we (should be). So Rev., we who had, etc., trusted, more properly hoped; and first trusted is ambiguous. We refers to Jewish Christians, and the verb describes their messianic hope before ( πρό ) the advent of Christ. Hence Rev., correctly, we who had (have) before hoped. In Christ should be “in the Christ,” as the subject of messianic expectation and not as Jesus, for whom Christ had passed into a proper name. It is equivalent to in the Messiah. See on Matthew 1:1.

Verse 13

Ye also trusted

Gentile Christians. Trusted, which is not in the Greek, is unnecessary. The pronoun ye is nominative to were sealed.

In whom

Resuming the in whom at the beginning of the verse, and repeated on account of the length of the clause.

Ye were sealed ( ἐσφραγίσθητε )

See on John 3:33; see on Revelation 22:10. Sealed with the assurance of the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:16; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Timothy 2:19.

Spirit of promise

Strictly, the promise. Denoting the promise as characteristic of the Holy Spirit: the Spirit which was announced by promise. See Acts 2:16sqq.; Joel 2:28; Zechariah 12:10; Isaiah 32:15; Isaiah 44:3; John 7:39; Acts 1:4-8; Galatians 3:14.

Verse 14


See on 2 Corinthians 1:22.

Unto the redemption, etc.

Construe with ye were sealed.

Of the purchased possession ( τῆς περιποιήσεως )

See on peculiar, 1 Peter 2:9. The word originally means a making to remain over and above; hence preservation; preservation for one's self; acquisition; the thing acquired, or a possession. Used here collectively for the people possessed, as the circumcision for those circumcised, Philemon 3:3; the election for those chosen, Romans 11:7. Rev., God's own possession, God's own being inserted for the sake of clearness. Compare Isaiah 43:21; Acts 20:28; Titus 2:14.

Unto the praise of His glory

Construe with ye were sealed: Ye were sealed unto the redemption, etc.; setting forth God's purpose as it contemplates man. Ye were sealed unto the praise of His glory; God's purpose as it respects Himself.

Verse 15

Your faith ( τὴν καθ ' ὑμᾶς πίστιν )

The Greek phrase is nowhere else used by Paul. Lit., as Rev., the faith which is among you. Expositors endeavor to make a distinction between this and Paul's common phrase ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν yourfaith, but they differ widely, and the distinction is at best doubtful.



Unto all the saints ( τὴν εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους )

Lit., that which is toward all, etc. Love being omitted, this refers to faith: faith which displays its work and fruits toward fellow Christians. See on Philemon 1:5, Philemon 1:6. Compare work of faith, 1 Thessalonians 1:3. Though love is not mentioned, yet faith works by love. Galatians 5:6.

Verse 16

Making mention, etc.

As I make mention. The same expression occurs Romans 1:9; Philemon 1:4; Philemon 1:4.

Verse 17

God of our Lord Jesus Christ

Compare John 20:17; Matthew 27:46, and see on Ephesians 1:3.

Father of glory ( ὁ πατὴρ τῆς δόξης )

The Father to whom the glory belongs. Note the article, the glory, preeminently. Compare Acts 7:2; 1 Corinthians 2:8. See Psalm 18:3, “who is worthy to be praised;” where the Hebrew is is praised. The exact phrase has no parallel in Scripture.

The Spirit of wisdom and revelation

Spirit has not the article, but the reference is to the Holy Spirit. Compare Matthew 12:28; Luke 1:15, Luke 1:35, Luke 1:41; Romans 1:4; 1 Peter 1:2. Wisdom and revelation are special forms of the Spirit's operation. He imparts general illumination (wisdom) and special revelations of divine mysteries. The combination of two words with an advance in thought from the general to the special is characteristic of Paul. Compare grace and apostleship, Romans 1:5; gifts and calling, Romans 11:29; wisdom and prudence, Ephesians 1:8, wisdom and knowledge, Colossians 2:3.

In the knowledge of Him ( ἐν ἐπιγνώσει αὐτοῦ )

The sphere in which they will receive God's gift of wisdom and revelation. To know God is to be wise. The condition is not merely acknowledgment, but knowledge. Ἑπίγνωσις knowledgeis never ascribed to God in the New Testament. Of Him refers to God.

Verse 18

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened ( πεφωτισμένους τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς τῆς καρδίας ὑμῶν )

Rev., eyes of your heart. Lit., being enlightened as to the eyes of your heart; enlightened being joined with you (Ephesians 1:17) by a somewhat irregular construction: may give unto you being enlightened. For a similar construction see Acts 15:22. The phrase eyes of the heart occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Plato has eye of the soul ( ψυχῆς , “Sophist,” 254). Ovid, speaking of Pythagoras, says: “With his mind he approached the gods, though far removed in heaven, and what nature denied to human sight, he drew forth with the eyes of his heart” (“Metamorphoses,” xv., 62-64). Heart is not merely the seat of emotion, as in popular usage, but of thought and will. See on Romans 1:21. The particular aspect in which its activity is viewed, perception or cognition, is determined by what follows, “that ye may know,” etc.

Hope of His calling

Hope, not, as sometimes, the thing hoped for, but the sentiment or principle of hope which God's calling inspires.

The riches of the glory of His inheritance

Ellicott remarks that this is a noble accumulation of genitives, “setting forth the inheritance on the side of its glory, and the glory on the side of its riches.” Glory is the essential characteristic of salvation, and this glory is richly abounding. His inheritance: which is His, and His gift.

Verse 19

Exceeding ( ὑπερβάλλον )

Compounds with ὑπέρ overbeyond, are characteristic of Paul's intensity of style, and mark the struggle of language with the immensity of the divine mysteries, and the opulence of the divine grace. See Ephesians 1:21; Ephesians 3:20; 2 Corinthians 4:17, etc.

According to the working of His mighty power ( κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργειαν τοῦ κράτους τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ )

The A.V. frequently impairs the force of a passage by combining into a single conception two words which represent distinct ideas; translating two nouns by an adjective and a noun. Thus Philemon 3:21, vile body, glorious body, for body of humiliation, body of glory: Romans 8:21, glorious liberty, for liberty of the glory: 2 Corinthians 4:4, glorious gospel, for gospel of the glory: Colossians 1:11, glorious power, for power of the glory: 1 Peter 1:14, obedient children, for children of obedience: 2 Peter 2:14, cursed children, for children of cursing. So here, mighty power, for strength of might. The idea is thus diluted, and the peculiar force and distinction of the separate words is measurably lost. Rev., correctly, working of the strength of His might. For working, see on Colossians 1:29. For strength and might, see on 2 Peter 2:11; see on John 1:12. Strength ( κράτους ) is used only of God, and denotes relative and manifested power. Might ( ἰσχύος ) is indwelling strength. Working ( ἐνέργειαν ) is the active, efficient manifestation of these. Hence we have here God's indwelling power, which inheres in the divine nature (strength ); the relative quality or measure of this power (might ); and the efficient exertion of the divine quality (working ). The phrase, according to the working of the strength, etc., is to be connected with the exceeding greatness of His power. The magnitude of God's power toward believers is known in the operation of the strength of His might.

Verse 20

Which ( ἣν )

Refer to working (Ephesians 1:19).

He wrought ( ἐνήργησεν )

The best texts read ἐνήργηκεν , perfect tense, He hath wrought. The verb is kindred with working (Ephesians 1:19).

In Christ

In the case of Christ. Christ's dead body was the point on which this working of divine power was exhibited. See Romans 8:11; 2 Corinthians 4:14.

When He raised ( ἐγείρας )

Or, in that He raised.

And set ( καὶ ἐκάθισεν )

Rev., made Him to sit. The best texts read καθίσας havingseated, or in that He caused him to sit.

Right hand

See Acts 7:56.

In the heavenly places

See on Ephesians 1:2. Local. Not merely of a spiritual state, which does not suit the local expressions made to sit and right hand.

Verse 21

Far above ( ὑπεράνω )

Lit., over above. See on Ephesians 1:19. Connect with made Him to sit.

Principality, power, etc.

These words usually refer to angelic powers; either good, as Ephesians 3:10; Colossians 1:16; Colossians 2:10; or bad, as Ephesians 6:12; 1 Corinthians 15:24; Colossians 2:15; or both, as Romans 8:38. See on Colossians 1:16; see on Colossians 2:15. Here probably good, since the passage relates to Christ's exaltation to glory rather than to His victory over evil powers.

And every name that is named

And has a collective and summary force - and in a word. Every name, etc. Whatever a name can be given to. “Let any name be uttered, whatever it is, Christ is above it; is more exalted than that which the name so uttered affirms” (Meyer). Compare Philemon 2:9. “We know that the emperor precedes all, though we cannot enumerate all the ministers of his court: so we know that Christ is placed above all, although we cannot name all” (Bengel).

Not only in this world, etc.

Connect with which is named. For world ( αἰῶνι ), see on John 1:9.

Verse 22

Put all things in subjection

Compare Colossians 1:15-18; Psalm 8:5-8.

Gave Him

Him is emphatic: and Him He gave. Not merely set Him over the Church, but gave Him as a gift. See 2 Corinthians 9:15.

The Church ( τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ )

See on Matthew 16:18.

Verse 23

Which is His body ( ἥτις )

The double relative is explanatory, seeing it is: by which I mean. Body, a living organism of which He is the head. See on Colossians 1:18.

The fullness

See on John 1:16; see on Romans 11:12; see on Colossians 1:19. That which is filled. The Church, viewed as a receptacle. Compare Ephesians 3:10.

That filleth all in all ( τὰ πάντα ἐν πᾶσιν πληρουμένου )

Better, that filleth all things with all things. The expression is somewhat obscure. All things are composed of elements. Whatever things exist, God from His fullness fills with all those elements which belong to their being or welfare. The whole universe is thus filled by Him.


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Ephesians 1:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 26th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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