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EPHESUS was the chief city of that part of Asia which was a Roman province. Here St. Paul preached for three years, Acts xx. 31, and from hence the gospel was spread throughout the whole province, Arts xix. 10. At his taking leave of the church there, he forewarned them both of great persecutions from without, and of divers heresies and schisms, which would arise among themselves. And accordingly he writes this epistle, (nearly resembling that to the Colossians, written about the same time,) to establish them in the doctrine he had delivered, to arm them against false teachers, and to build them up in love and holiness, both of heart and conversation.
He begins this, as most ot his epistles, with tnanksgiving to God, for their embracing and adhering to the gospel. He shews the inestimable blessings and advantages they received thereby, as far above all the Jewish privileges, as all the wisdom and philosophy of the heathens. He proves, that our Lord is the head of the whole church: of angels and spirits, the church triumphant, and of Jews and Gentiles, now equally members of the church militant. In the three last chapters, he exhorts them to various duties, civil and religious, personal and relative, suitable to their Christian character, privileges, assistances, and obligations.
IN THI8 EPIsTlE WE MAY OBsERVE,
I. The inscription, C. i. 1, 3. II. The Doctrine pathetically explained, which contains,
1. Praise to God for the whole gospel blessing, 3—14.
With thaaksgiving and prayer for the saints, 15,—C. ii. 10. g. A more particular admonition, concerning their once
miserable, but now happy condition, 11—22.
A prayer for their establishment, C. iii. 1—19.
A doxology, 3O, 31.
III. The exhortation,
1. General, to walk worthy of their calling, agreeably to
1. The unity of the Spirit, and the diversity of his
gifts, - C. iv. 1—16.
2. The difference between their former and their present
state, '17—2*. t. Particular. To avoid,
1. Lying, iv. 25.
2. Auger, Q *»'
3. Theft, 33.
4. Corrupt communitationt , 39, 30.
5. Bitterness, 91,—C. v. 2.
6. Uucleauness, 3—
7. Drunkeuness, 15—21. With a commendation of the opposite yirWes.
To do their duty, as,
1. Wives and husbands, 22—33.
3r. Children and parents^ C. vi. 1—4.
3 Servants and masters, 5—9.
3. Final: to war the spiritual warfare, 10—9o.
IV. The conclusion, 21—,84.
VOL. II. L
CHAP. I. 1. PAUL, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, even
2 to the faithful in Christ Jesus, Grace be to you, and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in
4 heavenly things through Christ, As he hath chosen us through him, before the foundation of the world, that we
5 might be holy and blameless before him in love. Having predestinated us by Jesus Christ to the adoption of sons unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he hath
7 freely accepted us through the beloved; By whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of
8 our sins, according to the riches of his grace, Wherein he hath abounded toward us, in all wisdom and prudence,
CHAP. I. Ver. 1. By the will of God—Not by any merit of my own, to the saints who are at Ephesus —And in all the adjacent places. For this epistle is not directed to the Ephesians only, but likewise to all the other churches of Asia.
V. 3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us—God's blessing us, is his bestowing all spiritual and heavenly blessings upon us. Our blessing God, is the paying him our solemn and grateful acknowledgments, both on account of his essential blessedness, and of the blessings which he bestows upon us. He is the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, as man and Mediator: he is his Father, primarily with respect to his divine nature, as his only-begotten Son; and secondarily, with respect to his human nature, as that is personally united to the divine; with all spiritual blessings in heavenly things—With all manner of spiritual blessings, which are heavenly in their nature, original, and tendency, and shall be completed in heaven: far different from the external privileges of the Jews, and the earthly blessings they expected from the Messiah.
V. 4. As he hath chosen us—Both Jews and Gentiles, whom he foreknew as believing in Christ, I Pet. i. 2.
V. 5. Having predestinated us to the adoption of sons—Hav'm? fore-ordained that all who afterwards believed should enjoy the dignity of being sons of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will— According to his free, fixed, unalterable purpose, to confer this blessing on all those who should believe in Christ, and those only.
V. 6; To the praise of the glory of his grace— His glorious, free love, without any desert on our part.
V. 7. By whom we—Who believe have, from the moment we believe, redemption from the guilt and power of sin, through his blood—Through what he hath done and suffered for us; according to the riches of his grace—According to the abundant overflowings of his free mercy and favour.
V. 9. In all wisdom—Manifested by God in the whole scheme of our salvation, and prudence —Which he hath wrought in us, that we may know and do all his acceptable and perfect will.
9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he had before pur
10 posed in himself; That in the dispensation of the fulness of the times, he might gather together into one in Christ all things which are in heaven, and which are on earth,
11 In him through whom we also have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him that worketh all things after the counsel of his own will,
12 That we who first believed in Christ, might be to the
13 praise of his glory: In whom ye likewise believed, after ye had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom, after, ye had believed, ye were also sealed
14 by that Holy Spirit of promise, Who is an earnest of our inheritance, till the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of his glory.
15 Wherefore I also, since I heard of your faith in the
V- 9. Having made known to us—By his word and by his Spirit, the mystery of his will —The gracious scheme of salvation by faith, which depends on his own sovereign will alone. This was but darkly discovered under the law; Is now totally hid from unbelievers; and has heights and depths which surpass all the knowledge even of true believers.
V. 10. That in the dispensation of the fulness of times—In this last administration of God's fullest grace, which took place when the time appointed was fully come, he might gather together into one in Christ—Might recapitulate, reunite, and place in order again under Christ, their common head, all things which are in heaven and on earth—All angels and men, whether living or dead in the Lord.
V. 11. Through whom we—Jews, also have obtained an inheritance—The glorious inheritance of the heavenly Canaan, to which, when believers, we were predestinated, according to the purpose of him that worketh all things after the counsel of his own will—The unalterable decree, He that believeth shall b* delivered: which will is not an arbitrary will, but flowing from the rectitude of his nature; else, what security would there be, that it would be his will to keep his word even with the elect?
V. 12. That we—Jews, who first believed—Before the Gentiles. So did some of them in every place. Here is another branch of the true gospel predestination: he that believes is not only elected to salvation, (if he endures to the end,) but is fore-appointed of God to walk in holiness, to the praise of his glory.
V. 13. In whom ye—"Gentiles, likewise believed, after ye had heard the gospel —Which God made the means of your salvation, in whom after ye had believed —Prohably some time after their first believing, ye were sealed by that Holy Spirit of promise—Holy both in his nature and in his operations, and promised to all the children of God. The sealing seems to imply, 1. A full impression of the image of God on their souls; 2. A full assurance of receiving all the promises, whether relating to time or eternity.
V. 14. Who thus sealing us, is an earnest—Both a pledge and a foretaste of . our inheritance, till the redemption of the purchased possession—Till the church, which be has purchased with his own blood, shall be fully delivered from all sin and sorrow, and advanced to everlasting glory, to the praise of his glory-- or his glorious wisdom, power, and mercy.
V. 15. Since I heard of your faith and love—That is, of your pe and increase therein.
16 Lord Jesus, and love to all saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers,
17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,
IS through the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the nope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of
19 his inheritance in the saints, And what the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe, according
20 to the energy of his mighty power, Which he exerted in Christ, raising him, from the dead; and he hath seated
21 him at his own right hand in heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also
22 in that which is to come. And he hath put all things
V. 16. I cease not—In all my solemn addresses to God, to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers—So he did of all the churches, Col. i. 9.
V. 17. That the Father of that infinite glory which shines in the face of Christ, from whom also we receive the glorious inheritance, ver. is, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation—The same who is the Spirit of promise, is also, in the progress of the faithful, the Spirit of wisdom and revelations making them wise unto salvation, and revealing to them the deep things of God. He is here speaking of that wisdom and revelation, which are common to all real Christians.
V. 18. The eyes of your understanding—It is with these alone that we discern the things of God, being first opened, and then enlightened—By his Spirit, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling—That ye may experimentally and delightfully know, what are the blessings which God has called you to hope for, by his word and his Spirit, and what is. the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints—What an immense treasure of blessedness he hath provided, as an inheritance for holy souls.
V. 1C?» And what the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe— Both in quickening our dead souls, and preserving them in spiritual life, according to the power, which he exerted in Christ, raising him from the dead— By the very same almighty power, whereby he raised Christ j for no less would suffice.
V. 20. And he hath seated him at his own right hand—That is, he hath exalted him in his human nature, as a recoiupence for his sufferings, to a quiet, everlasting possession, of all possible blessedness, majesty, and glory.
V. 21. Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion—That is, God hath invested him with uncontrolable anthority, over all daemons in hell, and angels in heaven, and all the princes and potentates on earth, and *very name that is named—We know the king is above all, though we cannot name all the officers of his court. So we know, that Christ is above all, though we are not able to name all his subjects; not only in this world, but also in that which is to come—The world to come is so styled, not because it does not yet exist, but because it is not yet visible. Principalities and powers are named now. But those also who are not even named in this world, but shall be revealed in the world to come, are all subject to Christ.
V. 22. And he hath given him to be head over all things to the church—A bead both for guidance and government, and likewise of life and influence to the whole and every member of it. All these stand in the nearest union with
under his feet, and hath given him to be head over all 23 things to the church, Which is his body; who is the fulII. ness of him that filleth all in all. 1. And he hath quick
2 ened you, who were dead in trespasses and sins, Wherein ye formerly walked, according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit
3 that now worketh in the sons of disobedience: Among whom also we all formerly had our conversation, in the desires of the flesh, doing the will of the flesh and the mind, and were by nature children of, wrath, even as the
4 others. But God, being rich in mercy, through his great
5 love wherewith he loved us, Hath quickened even us
him, and have as continual and effectual a communication of activity, growth, and strength from him, as the natural body from its head.
V. 23. The fulness of him that filleth all in all—It is hard to say, in what sense this can be spuken of the church. But the sense is easy and natural, if we refer it to Christ, who is the fulness of the Father.
CHAP. II. Ver. 1. And he hath quickened you—In the,10,th and 20th verses of the preceding chapter, St. Paul spoke of God's working in them by the same almighty power whereby he raised Christ from the dead. On the mention of this he, in the fulness of his heart, runs into a flow of thought, concerning the glory of Christ's exaltation, iu the three following verses. He here resumes the thread of his discourse: who were dead—Not only diseased, but dead; absolutely void of all spiritual life; and as incapable of quickening yourselves, as persons literally dead: in -trespasses and sins—Sins seem to.be spoken chiefly of the Gentiles, who knew not God: trespasses of the Jews, who had his law, and yet regarded it not, ver. 5. The latter herein obeyed the flesh; the former the prince of the power of the air.
V. 2. According to the course of this world—The word translated course, properly means a long series of times, wherein one corrupt age follows another, according to the prince of the power of the air—The effect of which power all may perceive, though all do but understand the cause of it: A power unspeakably penetrating and widely diffused; but yet, as to its baneful influences, beneath the orb of believers. The evil spirits are united under one head, the seat of whose dominion is in the air. Here he sometimes raises storms, sometimes makes visionary representations, and is continually roving to and fro; the spirit that now worketh—With mighty power, and so he did and doth in all ages, in the sons of disobedience—in all who do not believe and obey the gospel.
V. 3. Among whom we—Jews, also formerly had our conversation: doing the will of the flesh—In gross, brutal sins, and of the mind—By spiritual, diabolical wickedness. In the former clause, flesh denotes the whole evil nature; in the latter, the body upposBd to the soul: And were by nature—That is, in our natural state, children of wrath—Having the wrath of God abiding on us, even as the Gentiles. This expression, by nature, occurs also, Gal. iv. 8, Rom. ii. 14, and thrice in the 1lth chapter. But in none of these places does it signify by custom, or practice, or customary practice, as a late writer affirms. Nor can it mean so here. For this would make the apostle guilty of gross tautology, their. customary siuning haviug been expressed already, in the former part of the verse. But all these passages agree in expressing what belongs to the nature of the person spoken of.
V 4. Mercy removes misery: Love confers salvation.
V. 5. He hath quickened us together with Christ—Ju conformity to him, and by virtue of our uujon with him: By grace ye are saved—Grace.is both the