RPM, Volume 18, Number 37, September 4 to September 10, 2016

Barnes' New Testament Notes

Notes on the New Testament
Explanatory and Practical
Part 70

By Albert Barnes

EPHESIANS - Chapter 2

EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 1

Introduction to Ephesians Chapter 2


THIS chapter is closely connected in sense with the preceding, and should not have been separated from it. The great object is to illustrate the subject which was commenced in the previous chapter, (Eph 1:19)�"the greatness of the POWER of God, evinced in the salvation of his people. The great manifestation of his power had been in raising up the Lord Jesus from the dead. That had been connected with and followed by their resurrection from the death of sin; and the one had involved the exercise of a power similar to the other. In the illustration of this main idea, the apostle observes (Eph 2:1) that God had quickened those who had been dead in trespasses and sins, and proceeds (Eph 2:2,3) to show the condition which they were before their conversion. He then observes Eph 2:4-7 that God, of his infinite mercy, when they were dead in sin, had quickened them together with Christ, and had raised them up to sit with him in heavenly places. He then states that this was not by human power, but was the work of Divine power, and that they were the workmanship of God, Eph 2:8-10. The remainder of the chapter Eph 2:11-22 is occupied with a statement of the privileges resulting from the mercy of God in calling them into his kingdom. The apostle endeavours to impress their minds strongly with a sense of the mercy and love and power of God in thus calling them to himself. He reminds them of their former condition when Gentiles, as being without God, and that they were now brought nigh by the blood of Christ, Eph 2:11-13; he states that this had been done by one great Mediator, who came to break down the wall of partition between the Jews and Gentiles, and who had now made both one, Eph 2:14-18; and he compares them now to a temple raised for God, and to constitute the place of his dwelling on the earth, Eph 2:19-22. By all these considerations he endeavours to impress their minds with a sense of obligation, and to lead them to devote themselves to that God who had raised them from the dead, and had breathed into them the breath of immortal life.

Verse 1. And you hath he quickened. The words "hath he quickened," or made to live, are supplied, but not improperly, by our translators. The object of the apostle is to show the great power which God had evinced towards the people, Eph 1:19 and to show that this was put forth in connexion with the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and his exaltation to the right hand of God in heaven. See Barnes "Ro 6:4, and "Ro 6:5-11. Comp. Col 2:12,13; 3:1.

The words "hath he quickened" mean, hath he made alive, or made to live, Joh 5:21; Ro 4:17; 1 Co 15:36.

Who were dead in trespasses and sins. On the meaning of the word dead, See Barnes "Ro 5:12" See Barnes "Ro 6:2".

It is affirmed here of those to whom Paul wrote at Ephesus, that before they were converted they were "dead in sins." There is not anywhere a more explicit proof of depravity than this, and no stronger language can be used. They were dead in relation to that to which they afterwards became alive�"-i. e., to holiness. Of course, this does not mean that they were in all respects dead. It does not mean that they had no animal life, or that they did not breathe, and walk, and act. Nor can it mean that they had no living intellect or mental powers, which would not have been true. Nor does it settle any question as to their ability or power while in that state. It simply affirms a fact�"that in relation to real spiritual life they were, in consequence of sin, like a dead man in regard to the objects which are around him. A corpse is insensible. It sees not, and hears not, and feels not. The sound of music, and the voice of friendship and of alarm, do not arouse it. The rose and the lily breath forth their fragrance around it, but the corpse perceives it not. The world is busy and active around it, but it is unconscious of it all. It sees no beauty in the landscape; hears not the voice of a friend; looks not upon the glorious sun and stars; and is unaffected by the running stream and the rolling ocean. So with the sinner in regard to the spiritual and eternal world, he sees no beauty in religion; he hears not the call of God; he is unaffected by the dying love of the Saviour; and he has no interest in eternal realities. In all these he feels no more concern, and sees no more beauty, than a dead man does in the world around him. Such is, in fact, the condition of a sinful world. There is, indeed, life and energy and motion. There are vast plans and projects, and the world is intensely active. But, in regard to religion, all is dead. The sinner sees no beauty there; and no human power can arouse him to act for God, any more than human power can rouse the sleeping dead, or open the sightless eye-balls on the light of day. The same power is needed in the conversion of a sinner which is needed in raising the dead; and one and the other alike demonstrate the omnipotence of him who can do it.

{a} "hath he quickened" Joh 5:24; Col 2:13

{*} "quickened" "made alive"

EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 2

Verse 2. Wherein. In which sins, or in the practice of which transgressions.

Ye walked. You lived, life being often compared to a journey or a race. See Barnes "Ro 6:4".

According to the course of this world. In conformity with the customs and manners of the world at large. The word here rendered world�"course aiwn�"means properly age, but is often used to denote the present world, with its cares, temptations, and desires; and here denotes particularly the men of this world. The meaning is, that they had lived formerly as other men lived; and the idea is strongly conveyed that the course of the men of this world is to walk in trespasses and sins.

The sense is, that there was by nature no difference between them and others, and that all the difference which now existed had been made by grace.

According to the prince of the power of the air. See Eph 6:12. See Barnes "2 Co 4:4".

There can be no doubt that Satan is here intended, and that Paul means to say that they were under his control as their leader and prince. The phrase, "the prince of the power," may mean either "the powerful prince," or it may mean that this prince had power over the air, and lived and reigned there particularly. The word "prince"�" arcwn �" Archon, means one first in authority and power, and is then applied to any one who has the pre-eminence or rule. It is applied to Satan, or the chief of the fallen angels, as where he is called "the prince�"arcwn�" of the devils," Mt 9:34; 12:24; Mr 3:22; Lu 11:15; "the prince of this world," Joh 12:31; 14:30; 16:11.

But why he is here called the prince having power over the air, it is not easy to determine. Robinson (Lex.) supposes it to be because he is lord of the powers of the air; that is, of the demons who dwell and rule in the atmosphere. So Doddridge supposes that it means that he controls the fallen spirits who are permitted to range the regions of the atmosphere. It is generally admitted that the apostle here refers to the prevailing opinions both among the Jews and heathen, that the air was thickly peopled with spirits or demons. That this was a current opinion may be seen fully proved in Wetstein. Comp. Bloomfield, Grotius, and particularly Koppe. Why the region of the air was supposed to be the dwelling-place of such spirits is now unknown. The opinion may have been either that such spirits dwelt in the air or that they had control over it, according to the later Jewish belief. Cocceius, and some others, explain the word air here as meaning the same as darkness, as in profane writers. It is evident to my mind that Paul does not speak of this as a mere tradition, opinion, or vagary of the fancy, ar as a superstitious belief; but that he refers to it as a thing which he regarded as true. In this opinion I see no absurdity that should make it impossible to believe it. For,

(1.) the Scriptures abundantly teach that there are fallen, wicked spirits; and the existence of fallen angels is no more improbable than the existence of fallen men.

(2.) The Bible teaches that they have much to do with this world. They tempted man; they inflicted disease in the time of the Saviour; they are represented as alluring and deceiving the race.

(3.) They must have some locality-some part of the universe where they dwell. That they were not confined down to hell in the time of the Redeemer is clear from the New Testament; for they are often represented as having afflicted and tortured men.

(4.) Why is there any improbability in the belief that their residence should have been in the regions of the air? That while they were suffered to be on earth to tempt and afflict men, they should have been permitted peculiarly to occupy these regions? Who can tell what may be in the invisible world, and what spirits may be permitted to fill up the vast space that now composes the universe? And who can tell what control may have been given to such fallen spirits over the regions of the atmosphere�"over clouds, and storms, and pestilential air? Men have control over the earth, and pervert and abuse the powers of nature to their own ruin and the ruin of each other. The elements they employ for the purposes of ruin and of temptation. Fruit and grain they convert to poison; minerals, to the destruction caused by war. In itself considered, there is nothing more improbable that spirits of darkness may have had control over the regions of the air, than that fallen man has over the earth; and no more improbability that that power has been abused to ruin men, than that the power of men is abused to destroy each other. No one can prove that the sentiment here referred to by Paul is not true; and no one can show how the doctrine that fallen spirits may do mischief in any part of the works of God, is any more improbable than that wicked men should do the same thing. The word "power" here�"" power of the air"�"I regard as synonymous with dominion or rule: "a prince having dominion or rule over the air."

The spirit that now worketh. That still lives, and whose energy for evil is still seen and felt among the wicked. Paul here means undoubtedly to teach that there was such a spirit, and that he was still active in controlling men.

The children of disobedience. The wicked, Col 3:6.

{b} "in time past" Ac 19:35

{c} "of the air" Eph 6:12

{d} "of disobedience" Col 3:6

EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 3

Verse 3. We all had our conversion. See Barnes "2 Co 1:12".

Comp. 1 Pe 4:3.

In the lusts of our flesh. Living to gratify the flesh, or the propensities of a corrupt nature. It is observable here, that the apostle changes the form of the address from "ye" to "we," thus including himself with others, and saying that this was true of all before their conversion. He means undoubtedly to say, that whatever might have been the place of their birth, or the differences of religion under which they had been trained, they were substantially alike by nature. It was a characteristic of all that they lived to fulfil the desires of the flesh and of the mind. The design of the apostle in thus grouping himself with them was, to show that he did not claim to be any better by nature than they were, and that all which any of them had of value was to be traced to the grace of God. There is much delicacy here on the part of the apostle. His object was to remind them of the former grossness of their life, and their exposure to the wrath of God. Yet he does not do it harshly. He includes himself in their number. He says that what he affirms of them was substantially true of himself �"of all�"that they were under condemnation, and exposed to the Divine wrath.

Fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind. Marg. as in Greek, wills. Complying with the wishes of a depraved nature. The "will of the flesh" is that to which the flesh, or the unrenewed nature of man, prompts; and Paul says that all had been engaged in fulfilling those fleshly propensities. This was clearly true of the heathen, and it was no less true of the unconverted Jew that he lived for himself, and sought to gratify the purposes of a depraved nature, though it might manifest itself in a way different from the heathen. The "will of the mind" referred to here relates to the wicked thoughts and purposes of the unrenewed nature�"the sins which relate rather to the intellect than to the gross passions. Such, for instance, are the sins of pride, envy, ambition, covetousness, etc.; and Paul means to say, that before conversion they lived to gratify these propensities, and to accomplish these desires of the soul.

And were by nature, fusei. By birth, or before we were converted. By conversion and adoption they became the children of God; before that, they were all the children of wrath. This is, I think, the fair meaning of this important declaration. It does not affirm when they began to be such, or that they were such as soon as they were born, or that they were such before they became moral agents, or that they became such in virtue of theft connexion with Adam�"whatever may be the truth on these points; but it affirms that before they were renewed, they were the children of wrath. So far as this text is concerned, this might have been true at their very birth; but it does not directly and certainly prove that. It proves that at no time before their conversion were they the children of God, but that their whole condition before that was one of exposure to wrath. Comp. Ro 2:14,27; 1 Co 11:14; Ga 2:15. Some men are born Jews, and some heathen; some free, and some slaves; some white, and some black; some are born to poverty, and some to wealth; some are the children of kings, and some of beggars; but, whatever their rank or condition, they are born exposed to wrath, or in a situation which would render them liable to wrath. But why this is the apostle does not say. Whether for their own sins, or for the sins of another; whether by a corrupted soul, or by imputed guilt; whether they act as moral agents as soon as born, or at a certain period of childhood, Paul does not say.

The children of wrath. Exposed to wrath, or liable to wrath. They did not by nature inherit holiness; they inherited that which would subject them to wrath. The meaning has been well expressed by Doddridge, who refers it "to the original apostasy and corruption, in consequence of which men do, according to the course of nature, fall early into personal guilt, and so become obnoxious to the Divine displeasure." Many modern expositors have supposed that this has no reference to any original tendency of our fallen nature to sin, or to native corruption, but that it refers to the habit of sin, or to the fact of their having been the slaves of appetite and passion. I admit that the direct and immediate sense of the passage is, that they were, when without the gospel, and before they were renewed, the children of wrath; but still the fair interpretation is, that they were born to that state, and that that condition was the regular result of their native depravity; and I do not know a more strong or positive declaration that can be made to show that men are by nature destitute of holiness, and exposed to perdition.

Even as others. That is, "do not suppose that you stand alone, or that you are the worst of the species. You are indeed, by nature, the children of wrath; but not you alone. All others were the same. You have a common inheritance with them. I do not mean to charge you with being the worst of sinners, or as being alone transgressors. It is the common lot of man�"the sad, gloomy inheritance to which we all are born." The Greek is, oi loipoi�" "the remainder, or the others," �"including all. See Barnes "Ro 5:1".

This doctrine, that men without the gospel are the children of wrath, Paul had fully defended in Romans, chapters 1-3. No truth, perhaps, is more frequently stated in the Bible; none is more fearful and awful in its character. What a declaration, that we "are by nature the children of wrath!" Who should not inquire what it means? Who should not make an effort to escape from the wrath to come, and become a child of glory and an heir of life?

{a} "all had" 1 Pe 4:3

{*} "lusts" "desires"

{1} "desires" "wills"

EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 4

Verse 4. But God, who is rich in mercy. On the use of the word rich by Paul, See Barnes "Eph 1:7".

It is a beautiful expression. "God is rich in mercy;" overflowing, abundant. Mercy is the riches or the wealth of God. Men are often rich in gold, and silver, and they pride themselves in these possessions; but God is rich in mercy. In that he abounds; and he is so rich in it he is willing to impart it to others; so rich that he can make all blessed.

For his great love. That is, his great love was the reason why he had compassion upon us. It is not that we had any claim, or deserved his favour; but it is, that God had for man original and eternal love, and that love led to the gift of a Saviour, and to the bestowment of salvation.

EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 5

Verse 5. Even when we were dead in sins. See Barnes "Eph 2:1".

Comp. Ro 5:8. The construction here is�" "God, who is rich in mercy, on account of the great love which he bare unto us, even being dead in sin, hath quickened us," etc. It does not mean that he quickened us when we were dead in sin, but that he loved us then, and made provision for our salvation. It was love to the children of wrath; love to those who had no love to return to him; love to the alienated and the lost. That is true love�"the sincerest and the purest benevolence�"love, not like that of men, but such only as God bestows. Man loves his friend, his benefactor, his kindred �"God loves his foes, and seeks to do them good.

Hath quickened us. Hath made us alive. Eph 2:1. /p>

Together with Christ. In connexion with him; or in virtue of his being raised up from the grave. The meaning is, that there was such a connexion between Christ and those whom the Father had given to him, thai his resurrection from the grave involved their resurrection to spiritual life. It was like raising up the head and the members�"the whole body together. See Barnes "Ro 6:5".

Everywhere in the New Testament, the close connexion of the believer with Christ is affirmed. We are crucified with him. We die with him. We rise with him. We live with him. We reign with him. We are joint heirs with him. We share his sufferings on earth, (1 Pe 4:13;) and we share his glory with him on his throne, Re 3:21.

By grace ye are saved. Marg., by whose. See Barnes "Ro 3:24".

Paul's mind was full of the subject of salvation by grace, and he throws it in here, even in an argument, as a point which he would never have them lose sight of. The subject before him was one eminently adapted to bring this truth to mind; and though, in the train of his arguments, he had no time now to dwell on it, yet he would not suffer any opportunity to pass without referring to it.

{a} "when we were dead" Ro 5:6,8,10

{*} "quickened us" "made us alive"

{1} "by grace" "by whose"

{b} "ye are saved" Ro 3:24

EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 6

Verse 6. And hath raised us up together. That is, we are raised from the death of sin to the life of religion, in connexion with the resurrection of Jesus, and in virtue of that. So close is the connexion between him and his people, that his resurrection made theirs certain. Comp. Col 2:12. See Barnes "Ro 6:5".

And made us sit together. Together with him. That is, we share his honours. So close is our connexion with him, that we shall partake of his glory, and in some measure do now. See Barnes "Mt 19:28, and See Barnes "Ro 8:17".

In heavenly places. See Barnes "Eph 1:3".

The meaning is, that he has gone to the heavenly world as our Head and Representative. His entrance there is a pledge that we shall also enter there. Even here we have the anticipation of glory, and are admitted to exalted honours, as if we sat in heavenly places, in virtue of our connexion with him.

In Christ Jesus. It is in connexion with him that we are thus exalted, and thus filled with joy and peace. The meaning of the whole is, "We are united to Christ. We die with him, and live with him. We share his sufferings, and we share his joys. We become dead to the world in virtue of his death; we become alive unto God in virtue of his resurrection; in heaven we shall share his glory and partake of his triumphs."

EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 7

Verse 7. That in the ages to come. In all future times. The sense is, that the riches of Divine grace, and the Divine benignity, would be shown in the conversion of Christians and their salvation to all future times. Such was his love to those who were lost, that it would be an everlasting monument of his mercy, a perpetual and unchanging proof that he was good. The sense is, we are raised up with Christ, and are made to partake of his honour and glory, in order that others may for ever be impressed with a sense of the Divine goodness and mercy to us.

The exceeding riches of his grace. The abounding, overflowing riches of grace. See Barnes "Eph 1:7".

This is Paul's favourite expression�"an expression so beautiful and so full of meaning that it will bear often to be repeated. We may learn from this verse,

(1.) that one object of the conversion and salvation of sinners is to furnish a proof of the mercy and goodness of God.

(2.) Another object is, that their conversion may be an encouragement to others. The fact, that such sinners as the Ephesians had been, were pardoned and saved, affords encouragement also to others to come and lay hold on life. And so of all other sinners who are saved. Their conversion is a standing encouragement to all others to come in like manner; and now the history of the church for more than eighteen hundred years furnishes all the encouragement which we could desire.

(3.) The conversion of great sinners is a special proof of the Divine benignity. So Paul argues in the case before us; and so he often argued from his own case. See Barnes "1 Ti 1:16".

(4.) Heaven, the home of the redeemed, will exhibit the most impressive proof of the goodness of God that the universe furnishes. There will be a countless host who were once polluted and lost; who were dead in sins; who were under the power of Satan, and who have been saved by the riches of Divine grace�"a host now happy and pure, and free from sin, sorrow, and death�"the living and eternal monuments of the grace of God.

{d} "kindness" Tit 3:4

EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 8

Verse 8. For by grace are ye saved. By mere favour. It is not by your own merit; it is not because you have any claim. This is a favourite doctrine with Paul, as it is with all who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity. See Barnes "Ro 1:7; 3:24".

Through faith. Grace bestowed through faith, or in connexion with believing. See Barnes "Ro 1:17" See Barnes "Ro 4:17".

And that not of yourselves. That is, salvation does not proceed from yourselves. The word rendered that�"touto�"is in the neuter gender, and the word faith�"pistiv �"is in the feminine. The word "that," therefore, does not refer particularly to faith, as being the gift of God, but to the salvation by grace of which he had been speaking. This is the interpretation of the passage which is the most obvious, and which is now generally conceded to be the true one. See Bloomfield. Many critics, however, as Doddridge, Beza, Piscator, and Chrysostom, maintain that the word "that" touto refers to "faith," (pistiv;) and Doddridge maintains that such a use is common in the New Testament. As a matter of grammar this opinion is certainly doubtful, if not untenable; but as a matter of theology it is a question of very little importance. Whether this passage proves it or not, it is certainly true that faith is the gift of God. It exists in the mind only when the Holy Ghost produces it there, and is, in common with every other Christian excellence, to be traced to his agency on the heart. This opinion, however, does not militate at all with the doctrine that man himself believes. It is not God that believes for him, for that is impossible. It is his own mind that actually believes, or that exercises faith. See Barnes "Ro 4:3".

In the same manner repentance is to be traced to God. It is one of the fruits of the operation of the Holy Spirit on the soul. But the Holy Ghost does not repent for us. It is our own mind that repents; our own heart that feels; our own eyes that weep�"and without this there can be no true repentance. No one can repent for another; and God neither can nor ought to repent for us. He has done no wrong, and if repentance is ever exercised, therefore, it must be exercised by our own minds. So of faith. God cannot believe for us. We must believe, or we shall be damned. Still this does not conflict at all with the opinion, that if we exercise faith, the inclination to do it is to be traced to the agency of God on the heart. I would not contend, therefore, about the grammatical construction of this passage, with respect to the point of the theology contained in it; still it accords better with the obvious grammatical construction, and with the design of the passage to understand the word "that" as referring not to faith only, but to salvation by grace. So Calvin understands it, and so it is understood by Storr, Locke, Clarke, Koppe, Grotius, and others.

It is the gift of God. Salvation by grace is his gift. It is not of merit; it is wholly by favour.

{e} "are ye saved" 2 Ti 1:9

{f} "and that not" Ro 4:16

{g} "of yourselves" Joh 6:44,65

EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 9

Verse 9. Not of works. See Barnes "Ro 3:20".

See Barnes "Ro 3:27"

"us up together" Col 2:12

EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 10

Verse 10. For we are his workmanship. We are his making�"poihma. That is, we are created or formed by him, not only in the general sense in which all things are made by him, but in that peculiar sense which is denoted by the new creation. See Barnes "2 Co 5:17".

Whatever of peace, or hope, or purity we have, has been produced by his agency on the soul. There cannot be conceived to be a stronger expression to denote the agency of God in the conversion of men, or the fact that salvation is wholly of grace.

Created in Christ Jesus. On the word created, See Barnes "2 Co 5:17".

Unto good works. With reference to a holy life; or, the design for which we have been created in Christ is, that we should lead a holy life. The primary object was not to bring us to heaven. It was that we should be holy. Paul held perhaps more firmly than any other man to the position, that men are saved by the mere grace of God, and by a Divine agency on the soul; but it is certain that no man ever held more firmly that men must lead holy lives, or they could have no evidence that they were the children of God.

Which God hath before ordained. Marg., prepared. The word here used means to prepare beforehand, then to predestinate, or appoint before. The proper meaning of this passage is, "to which (oiv) good works God has predestinated us, or appointed us beforehand, that we should walk in them." The word here used�"proetoimazw�"occurs in the New Testament nowhere else, except in Ro 9:23, where it is rendered, "had afore prepared." It involves the idea of a previous determination, or an arrangement beforehand for securing a certain result. The previous preparation here referred to was the Divine intention; and the meaning is, that God had predetermined that we should lead holy lives. It accords, therefore, with the declaration in Eph 1:4, that he had chosen his people before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy. See Barnes "Eph 1:4".

That we should walk in them. That we should live holy lives. The word walk is often used in the Scriptures to denote the course of life. See Barnes "Ro 6:4".

{a} "God hath before ordained" Eph 1:4

{1} "ordained" "prepared"

EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 11

Verse 11. Wherefore remember. The design of this evidently is to excite a sense of gratitude in their bosoms for that mercy which had called them from the errors and sins of their former lives to the privileges of Christians. It is a good thing for Christians to "remember" what they were. No faculty of the mind can be better employed to produce humility, penitence, gratitude, and love, than the memory. It is well to recall the recollection of our former sins; to dwell upon our hardness of heart, our alienation, and our unbelief; and to remember our wanderings and our guilt, until the heart be affected, and we are made to feel. The converted Ephesians had much guilt to recollect and to mourn over in their former life; and so have all who are converted to the Christian faith.

That ye being in time past. Formerly�"pote


Gentiles in the flesh. You were Gentiles in the flesh, i.e., under the dominion of the flesh, subject to the control of carnal appetites and pleasures.

Who are called uncircumcision. That is, who are called "the uncircumcised." This was a term similar to that which we use when we speak of "the unbaptized." It meant that they were without the pale of the people of God; that they enjoyed none of the ordinances and privileges of the true religion; and was commonly a term of reproach. Comp. Jud 14:3; 15:18; 1 Sa 14:6; 17:26; 1 Sa 31:4; Eze 31:18.

By that which is called the Circumcision. By those who are circumcised, i.e., by the Jews.

In the flesh made by hands. In contradistinction from the circumcision of the heart. See Barnes "Ro 2:28, See Barnes "Ro 2:29".

They had externally adopted the rites of the true religion, though it did not follow that they had the circumcision of the heart, or that they were the true children of God.

EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 12

Verse 12. Ye were without Christ. You were without the knowledge of the Messiah. You had not heard of him; of course you had not embraced him. You were living without any of the hopes and consolations which you now have, from having embraced him. The object of the apostle is to remind them of the deplorable condition in which they were by nature; and nothing would better express it than to say they were "without Christ," or that they had no knowledge of a Saviour. They knew of no atonement for sin. They had no assurance of pardon. They had no well-founded hope of eternal life. They were in a state of darkness and condemnation, from which nothing but a knowledge of Christ could deliver them. All Christians may, in like manner, be reminded of the fact that, before their conversion, they were "without Christ." Though they had heard of him, and were constantly under the instruction which reminded them of him, yet they were without any true knowledge of him, and without any of the hopes which result from having embraced him. Many were infidels. Many were scoffers. Many were profane, sensual, corrupt. Many rejected Christ with scorn; many by simple neglect. All were without any true knowledge of him; all were destitute of the peace and hope which result from a saving acquaintance with him. We may add, that there is no more affecting description of the state of man by nature than to say, he is without a Saviour. Sad would be the condition of the world without a Redeemer-sad is the state of that portion of mankind who reject him. Reader, are you without Christ?

Being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel. This is the second characteristic of their state before their conversion to Christianity. This means more than that they were not Jews.

It means that they were strangers to that polity�"politeia or arrangement by which the worship of the true God had been kept up in the world, and of course were strangers to the true religion. The arrangements for the public worship of JEHOVAH were made among the Jews. They had his law, his temple, his sabbaths, and the ordinances of his religion. See Barnes "Ro 3:2".

To all these the heathen had been strangers, and of course they were deprived of all the privileges which resulted from having the true religion. The word here rendered commonwealth�"politeia�"means, properly, citizenship, or the right of citizenship, and then a community, or state. It means here that arrangement or organization by which the worship of the true God was maintained. The word aliens�"aphllotriwmenoi�"here means merely that they were strangers to. It does not denote, of necessity, that they were hostile to it; but that they were ignorant of it, and were, therefore, deprived of the benefits which they might have derived from it, if they had been acquainted with it.

And strangers. This word �"xenov�"means, properly, a guest, or a stranger, who is hospitably entertained; then a foreigner, or one from a distant country; and here means that they did not belong to the community where the covenants of promise were enjoyed; that is, they were strangers to the privileges of the people of God.

The covenants of promise. See Barnes "Ro 9:4".

The covenants of promise were those various arrangements which God made with his people, by which he promised them future blessings, and especially by which he promised that the Messiah should come. To be in possession of them was regarded as a high honour and privilege; and Paul refers to it here to show that, though the Ephesians had been by nature without these, yet they had now been brought to enjoy all the benefits of them. On the word covenant, See Barnes "Gal 3:15".

It may be remarked, than Walton (Polyglott) and Rosenmuller unite the word "promise" here with the word "hope"�"having no hope of the promise. But the more obvious and usual interpretation is that in our common version, meaning that they were not by nature favoured with the covenants made with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc., by which there was a promise of future blessings under the Messiah.

Having no hope. The apostle does not mean to affirm that they did not cherish any hope, for this is scarcely true of any man; but that they were without any proper ground of hope. It is true of perhaps nearly all men that they cherish some hope of future happiness. But the ground on which they do this is not well understood by themselves, nor do they in general regard it as a matter worth particular inquiry. Some rely on morality; some on forms of religion; some on the doctrine of universal salvation; all who are impenitent believe that they do not deserve eternal death, and expect to be saved by justice. Such hopes, however, must be unfounded. No hope of life in a future world can be founded on a proper basis which does not rest on some promise of God, or some assurance that he will save us; and these hopes, therefore, which men take up they know not why, are delusive and vain.

And without God in the world. Gr., ayeoi�"atheists; that is, those who had no knowledge of the true God. This is the last specification of their miserable condition before they were converted; and it is an appropriate crowning of the climax. What an expression! To be without God�"without God in his own world, and where he is all around us! To have no evidence of his favour, no assurance of his love, no hope of dwelling with him! The meaning, as applied to the heathen Ephesians, was, that they had no knowledge of the true God. This was true of the heathen, and in an important sense also it is true of all impenitent sinners, and was once true of all who are now Christians They had no God. They did not worship him, or love him, or serve him, or seek his favours, or act with reference to him and his glory. Nothing can be a more appropriate and striking description of a sinner now than to say that he is "without God in the world." He lives, and feels, and acts, as if there were no God. He neither worships him in secret, nor in his family, nor in public. He acts with no reference to his will. He puts no confidence in his promises, and fears not when he threatens; and were it announced to him that there is no God, it would produce no change in his plan of life, or in his emotions. The announcement that the emperor of China, or the king of Siam, or the sultan of Constantinople, was dead, would produce some emotion, and might change some of his commercial arrangements; but the announcement that there is no God would interfere with none of his plans, and demand no change of life. And if so, what is man in this beautiful world without a God? A traveller to eternity without a God! Standing over the grave without a God! An immortal being without a God! A man�"fallen, sunk, ruined, with no God to praise, to love, to confide in; with no altar, no sacrifice, no worship, no hope; with no Father in trial, no counsellor in perplexity, no support in death! Such is the state of man by nature. Such are the effects of sin.

{*} "commonwealth of Israel" "community"

EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 13

Verse 13. But now in Christ Jesus. By the coming and atonement of the Lord Jesus, and by the gospel which he preached.

Ye who sometimes were far off. Who were formerly�"pote. Tindal translates it, a whyle agoo. The phrase far off �"makran�"means that they were formerly far off from God and his people. The expression is derived from the custom of speaking among the Hebrews. God was supposed to reside in the temple. It was a privilege to be near the temple. Those who were remote from Jerusalem and the temple were regarded as far off from God, and hence as peculiarly irreligious and wicked. See Barnes "Isa 57:19".

Are made nigh. Are admitted to the favour of God, and permitted to approach him as his worshippers.

By the blood of Christ. The Jews came near to the mercy-seat on which the symbol of the Divine presence rested, See Barnes "Ro 3:25, by the blood that was offered in sacrifice; that is, the high priest approached that mercy-seat with blood, and sprinkled it before God. Now we are permitted to approach him with the blood of the atonement. The shedding of that blood has prepared the way by which Gentiles as well as Jews may approach God, and it is by that offering that we are led to seek God.

{*} "sometimes" "formerly"

{a} "blood of Christ" Heb 9:12

EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 14

Verse 14. For he is our peace. There is evident allusion here to Isa 57:19. See Barnes "Isa 57:19".

The peace here referred to is that by which a union in worship and in feeling has been produced between the Jews and the Gentiles. Formerly they were alienated and separate. They had different objects of worship; different religious rites; different views and feelings. The Jews regarded the Gentiles with hatred, and the Gentiles the Jews with scorn. Now, says the apostle, they are at peace. They worship the same God. They have the same Saviour. They depend on the same atonement. They have the same hope. They look forward to the same heaven. They belong to the same redeemed family. Reconciliation has not only taken place with God, but with each other. The best way to produce peace between alienated minds is to bring them to the same Saviour. That will do more to silence contentions, and to heal alienations, than any or all other means. Bring men around the same cross; fill them with love to the same Redeemer, and give them the same hope of heaven, and you put a period to alienation and strife. The love of Christ is so absorbing, and the dependence in his blood so entire, that they will lay aside these alienations, and cease their contentions. The work of the atonement is thus designed not only to produce peace with God, but peace between alienated and contending minds. The feeling that we are redeemed by the same blood, and that we have the same Saviour, will unite the rich and the poor, the bond and the free, the high and the low, in the ties of brotherhood, and make them feel that they are one. This great work of the atonement is thus designed to produce peace in alienated minds everywhere, and to diffuse abroad the feeling of universal brotherhood.

Who hath made both one. Both Gentiles and Jews. He has united them in one society.

Having broken down the middle wall. There is an allusion here undoubtedly to the wall of partition in the temple, by which the court of the Gentiles was separated from that of the Jews. See Barnes "Mt 21:12".

The idea here is, that that was now broken down, and that the Gentiles had the same access to the temple as the Jews. The sense is, that in virtue of the sacrifice of the Redeemer they were admitted to the same privileges and hopes.

{b} "is our peace" Mic 5:5

{c} "one" Joh 10:16; Gal 3:28

EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 15

Verse 15. Having abolished. Having brought to naught or put an end to it�"katarghsav.

In his flesh. By the sacrifice of his body on the cross. It was not by instruction merely; it was not by communicating the knowledge of God; it was not as a teacher; it was not by the mere exertion of power; it was by his flesh�"his human nature�"and this can mean only that he did it by his sacrifice of himself. It is such language as is appropriate to the doctrine of the atonement�"not indeed teaching it directly�"but still such as one would use who believed that doctrine, and such as no other one would employ. Who would now say of a moral teacher that he accomplished an important result by his flesh? Who would say of a man that was instrumental in reconciling his contending neighbors, that he did it by his flesh? Who would say of Dr. Priestly that he established Unitarianism in his flesh? No man would have ever used this language who did not believe that Jesus died as a sacrifice for sin.

The enmity. Between the Jew and the Gentile. Tindal renders this, "the cause of hatred, that is to say, the law of commandments contained in the law written." This is expressive of the true sense. The idea is, that the ceremonial law of the Jews, on which they so much prided themselves, was the cause of the hostility existing between them. That made them different people, and laid the foundation for the alienation which existed between them. They had different laws; different institutions; a different, religion. The Jews looked upon themselves as the favourites of Heaven, and as in possession of the knowledge of the only way of salvation; the Gentiles regarded their laws with contempt, and looked upon the peculiar institutions with scorn. When Christ came, and abolished by his death their peculiar ceremonial laws, of course the cause of this alienation ceased.

Even the law of commandments. The law of positive commandments. This does not refer to the moral law, which was not the cause of the alienation, and which was not abolished by the death of Christ, but to the laws commanding sacrifices, festivals, fasts, etc., which constituted the peculiarity of the Jewish system. These were the occasion of the enmity between the Jews and the Gentiles, and these were abolished by the great sacrifice which the Redeemer made; and of course when that was made, the purpose for which these laws were instituted was accomplished, and they ceased to be of value and to be binding. Contained in ordinances. In the Mosaic commandments. The word ordinance means decree, edict, law, Lu 2:1; Ac 16:4; 17:7; Col 2:14.

For to make in himself. By virtue of his death, or under him as the head.

Of twain one new man. Of the two�"Jews and Gentiles�"one new spiritual person; that they might be united. The idea is, that as two persons who had been at enmity might become reconciled, and become one in aim and pursuit, so it was in the effect of the work of Christ on the Jews and Gentiles. When they were converted they would be united and harmonious.

{d} "in his flesh" Col 2:14

{+} "contained" "consisting"

{++} "twain" "the two into"

EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 16

Verse 16. And that he might reconcile both unto God. This was another of the effects of the work of redemption, and indeed the main effect. It was not merely to make them harmonious, but it was that both, who had been alienated from God, should be reconciled to him. This was a different effect from that of producing peace between themselves, though in some sense the one grew out of the other. They who are reconciled to God will be at peace with each other. They will feel that they are of the same family, and are all brethren. On the subject of reconciliation, See Barnes "2 Co 5:18".

In one body. One spiritual personage�"the church. See Barnes "Eph 1:23".

By the cross. By the atonement which he made on the cross. See Col 1:20. Comp. See Barnes "Ro 3:2,5".

It is by the atonement only that men ever become reconciled to God.

Having slain the enmity. Not only the enmity between Jews and Gentiles, but the enmity between the sinner and God. He has by that death removed all the obstacles to reconciliation on the part of God and on the part of man. It is made efficacious in removing the enmity of the sinner against God, and producing peace.

Thereby. Marg., "in himself". The meaning is, in his cross, or by means of his cross.

{e} "both unto God" Col 1:20-22

{1} "enmity thereby" "in himself"

EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 17

Verse 17. And came and preached peace. That is, the system of religion which he proclaimed was adapted to produce peace with God. This he preached personally to those who "were nigh," that is, the Jews; to those who were "afar off"�"the Gentiles�"he preached it by his apostles. He was the Author of the system which proclaimed salvation to both. The word peace here refers to reconciliation with God.

To you which were afar off, etc. See Barnes "Eph 2:13".

{*} "preached" "proclaimed"

{a} "which were afar off" Ac 2:39

EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 18

Verse 18. For through him. That is, he has secured this result that we have access to God. This he did by his death�"reconciling us to God; by the doctrines which he taught�"acquainting us with God; and by his intercession in heaven�"by which our "prayers gain acceptance" with him.

We both have access. Both Jews and Gentiles.

See Barnes "Ro 5:2".

We are permitted to approach God through him, or in his name. The Greek word here�"prosagwgh�"relates, properly, to the introduction to, or audience which we are permitted to have with a prince or other person of high rank. This must be effected through an officer of court to whom the duty is entrusted. Rosenmuller, Alt. und neu. Morgenland, in loc.

By one Spirit. By the aid of the same Spirit�"the Holy Ghost. See Barnes "1 Co 12:4".

Unto the Father. We are permitted to come and address God as our Father. See Barnes "Ro 8:15,16".

{b} "through him" Joh 14:6; 1 Pe 3:18

EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 19

Verse 19. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners. You are reckoned with the people of God. You are entitled to their privileges, and are not to be regarded as outcasts and aliens. The meaning is, that they belonged to the same community�"the same family, as the people of God. The word rendered strangers�"xenoi �"means, foreigners in a state, as opposed to citizens. The word rendered foreigners�"paroikoi�"means, guests in a private family, as opposed to the members of the family. Rosenmuller. Strangers, and such as proposed to reside for a short time in Athens, were permitted to reside in the city, and to pursue their business undisturbed, but they could perform no public duty; they had no voice in the public deliberations, and they had no part in the management of the state. They could only look on as spectators, without mingling in the scenes of state, or interfering in any way in the affairs of the government. They were bound humbly to submit to all the enactments of the citizens, and observe all the laws and usages of the republic. It was not even allowed them to transact any business in their own name, but they were bound to choose from among the citizens one to whose care they committed themselves as a patron, and whose duty it was to guard them against all injustice and wrong. Potter's Gr. Ant. 1, 55. Proselytes, who united themselves to the Jews, were also called, in the Jewish writings, strangers. All foreigners were regarded as "strangers," and Jews only were supposed to have near access to God. But now, says the apostle, this distinction is taken away, and the believing heathen, as well as the Jew, has the right of citizenship in the New Jerusalem, and one, as well as another, is a member of the family of God. Burder, Ros. Alt. u. neu. Morgenland, in loc. The meaning here is, that they had not come to sojourn merely as guests or foreigners, but were a part of the family itself, and entitled to all the privileges and hopes which others had.

But fellow-citizens with the saints. Belonging to the same community with the people of God.

And of the household of God. Of the same family. Entitled to the same privileges, and regarded by him as his children. Eph 3:15.

{c} "fellow citizens with the saints" Heb 12:22,23

{d} "household of God" Eph 3:15

EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 20

Verse 20. And are built upon the foundation. The comparison of the church with a building is common in the Scriptures. See Barnes "1 Co 3:9,10".

The comparison was probably taken from the temple, and as that was an edifice of great beauty, expense, and sacredness, it was natural to compare the church with it. Besides, the temple was the sacred place where God dwelt on file earth; and as the church was the place where he delighted now to abide, it became natural to speak of his church as the temple, or the residence of God. See Barnes "Isa 54:11,12".

That building, says Paul, was permanently founded, and was rising with great beauty of proportion, and with great majesty and splendour.

Of the apostles. The doctrines which they taught are the basis on which the church rests. It is possible that Paul referred here to a splendid edifice, particularly because the Ephesians were distinguished for their skill in architecture, and because the celebrated temple of Diana was among them. An allusion to a building, however, as an illustration of the church, occurs several times in his other epistles, and was an allusion which would be everywhere understood.

And prophets. The prophets of the Old Testament�"using the word, probably, to denote the Old Testament in general. That is, the doctrines of Divine revelation, whether communicated by prophets or apostles, were laid at the foundation of the Christian church. It was not founded on philosophy, or tradition, or on human laws, or on a venerable antiquity, but on the great truths which God had revealed. Paul does not say that it was founded on Peter, as the Papists do, but on the prophets and apostles in general. If Peter had been the "viceregent of Christ," and the head of the church, it is incredible that his brother Paul should not have given him some honourable notice in this place. Why did he not allude to so important a fact? Would one who believed it have omitted it? Would a Papist now omit it? Learn here,

(1.) that no reliance is to be placed on philosophy as a basis of religious doctrine.

(2.) That the traditions of men have no authority in the church, and constitute no part of the foundation.

(3.) That nothing is to be regarded as a fundamental part of the Christian system, or as binding on the conscience, which cannot be found in the "prophets and apostles;" that is, as it means here, in the Holy Scriptures. No decrees of councils; no ordinances of synods; no "standard" of doctrines; no creed or confession is to be urged as authority in forming the opinions of men. They may be valuable for some purposes, but not for this; they may be referred to as interesting parts of history, but not to form the faith of Christians; they may be used in the church to express its belief, but not to form it. What is based on the authority of apostles and prophets is true, and always true, and only true; what may be found elsewhere may be valuable and true or not, but, at any rate, is not to be used to control the faith of men.

Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. See Barnes "Isa 28:16" See Barnes "Ro 9:33".

The corner-stone is the most important in the building.

(1.) Because the edifice rests mainly on the corner-stones. If they are small, and unstable, and settle down, the whole building is insecure; and hence care is taken to place a large stone firmly at each corner of an edifice.

(2.) Because it occupies a conspicuous and honourable place. If documents or valuable articles are deposited at the foundation of a building it is within the corner-stone. The Lord Jesus is called the "corner-stone," because the whole edifice rests on him, or he occupies a place relatively as important as the corner-stone of an edifice. Were it not for him the edifice could not be sustained for a moment. Neither prophets nor apostles alone could sustain it. See Barnes "1 Co 3:11".

Comp. 1 Pe 2:6

{e} "upon" 1 Co 3:9,10

{f} "foundation" Mt 16:18; Re 21:14

{g} "corner stone" Isa 28:16

EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 21

Verse 21. In whom. That is, by whom, or upon whom. It was in connexion with him, or by being reared on him as a foundation.

All the building. The whole church of Christ.

Fitly framed together. The word here used means, to joint together, as a carpenter does the frame-work of a building. The materials are accurately and carefully united by mortices and tenons, so that the building shall be firm. Different materials may be used, and different kinds of timber may be employed; but one part shall be worked into another, so as to constitute a durable and beautiful edifice. So in the church. The different materials of the Jews and Gentiles; the people of various nations, though heretofore separated and discordant, become now united, and form an harmonious society. They believe the same doctrines; worship the same God; practise the same holiness, and look forward to the same heaven.

Groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord. See Barnes "1 Co 3:17" See Barnes "2 Co 6:16".

{h} "holy temple" 1 Co 3:17; 2 Co 6:16

EPHESIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 22

Verse 22. In whom. In Christ, or on Christ, as the solid and precious foundation.

Ye also are builded together. You are built into that, or constitute a part of it. You are not merely added to it, but you constitute a part of the building.

For an habitation of God. For the indwelling, or the dwelling-place, of God. Formerly he dwelt in the temple; now he dwells in the church, and in the hearts of his people. See Barnes "2 Co 6:16".

{i} "builded together" 1 Pe 2:4,5


(1.) We were by nature dead in sin, Eph 2:1. We had no spiritual life. We were insensible to the calls of God, to the beauty of religion, to the claims of the Creator. We were like corpses in the tomb, in reference to the gay and busy and happy world around them.�"There we should have remained had not the grace of God given us life, just as the dead will remain in their graves for ever, unless God shall raise them up. How humble should we be at the remembrance of this fact! how grateful that God has not left us to sleep that sleep of death for ever!

(2.) Parents should feel deep solicitude for their children, Eph 2:3. They, in common with all others, are "children of wrath." They have a nature prone to evil; and that nature will develope itself in evil for ever, unless it is changed�"just as the young thorn-bush will be a thorn-bush, and will put forth thorns, and not roses; and the Bohon Upas will be a Bohon Upas, and not an olive or an orange; and as the lion will be a lion, and the panther a panther, and not a lamb, a kid, or a gazelle. They will act out their nature, unless they are changed; and they will not be changed, but by the grace of God. I do not mean that their nature is in every sense like that of the lion or the asp; but I mean that they will be as certainly wicked, if unrenewed, as the lion will be ferocious, and the asp poisonous. And if so, what deep anxiety should parents feel for the salvation of their children! How solicitous should they be that, by the grace of God, the evil propensities of their nature may be eradicated, and that they become the adopted children of God?

(3.) The salvation of sinners involves all the exercise of power that is put forth in the resurrection of the dead, Eph 3:5. It is not a work to be performed by man; it is not a work of angelic might. None can impart spiritual life to the soul but he who gave it life at first. On that great Source of life we are dependant for our resurrection from spiritual death; and to God we must look for the grace by which we are to live.�"It is true that though we are by nature "dead in sins," we are not in all respects like the dead. Let not this doctrine be abused to make us secure in sin, or to prevent effort. The dead in the grave are dead in all respects. We, by nature, are dead only in sin. We are active in other things; and indeed the powers of man are not less active than they would be if he were holy. But it is a tremendous activity for evil, and for evil only. The dead in their graves hear nothing, see nothing, and feel nothing. Sinners hear, and see, and feel; but they hear not God, and they see not his glory, any more than if they were dead. To the dead in the grave, no command could with propriety be addressed; on them, no entreaty could be urged to rise to life. But the sinner may be commanded and entreated; for he has power, though it is misdirected; and what is needful is, that he should put forth his power in a proper manner. While, therefore, we admit, with deep humiliation, that we, our children, and friends, are by nature dead in sin, let us not abuse this doctrine as though we could be required to do nothing. It is with us wilful death. It is death because we do not choose to live. It is a voluntary closing our eyes, and stopping our ears, as if we were dead; and it is a voluntary remaining in this state, when we have all the requisite power to put forth the energies of life. Let a sinner be as active in the service of God as he is in the service of the devil and the world, and he would be an eminent Christian. Indeed, all that is required is, that the misdirected and abused energy of this world should be employed in the service of the Creator. Then all would be well.

(4.) Let us remember our former course of life, Eph 4:11,12. Nothing is more profitable for a Christian than to sit down and reflect on his former life�"on his childhood, with its numerous follies and vanities; on his youth, with its errors, and passions, and sins; and on the ingratitude and faults of riper years. Had God left us in that state, what would be now our condition? Had he cut us off, where had been our abode? Should he now treat us as we deserve, what would be our doom? When the Christian is in danger of becoming proud and self-confident, let him REMEMBER what he was. Let him take some period of his life�"some year, some month, or even some one day�"and think it all over, and he will find enough to humble him. These are the uses which should be made of the past.

1st. It should make us humble. If a man had before his mind a vivid sense of all the past in his own life, he would never be lifted up with pride.

2nd. It should make us grateful. God cut off the companions of my childhood�"why did he spare me? He cut down many of the associates of my youth in their sins�"why did he preserve me? He has suffered many to live on in their sins, and they are in "the broad road"�"why am I not with them, treading the path to death and hell?

3rd. The recollection of the past should lead us to devote ourselves to God. Professing Christian, "remember" how much of thy life is gone to waste! Remember thy days of folly and vanity! Remember the injury thou hast done by an evil example! Remember how many have been corrupted by thy conversation; perverted by thy opinions; led into sin by thy example; perhaps ruined in body and soul for ever by the errors and follies of thy past life! And then REMEMBER how much thou dost owe to God, and how solemnly thou art bound to endeavour to repair the evils of thy life, and to save at least as many as thou hast ruined !

(5.) Sinners are by nature without any well-founded hope of salvation, Eph 2:12. They are living without Christ, having no belief in him, and no hope of salvation through him. They are "aliens" from all the privileges of the friends of God. They have no "hope." They have no well-founded expectation of happiness beyond the grave. They have a dim and shadowy expectation that possibly they may be happy; but it is founded on no evidence of the Divine favour, and no promise of God. They could not tell on what it is founded, if they were asked; and what is such a hope worth? These false and delusive hopes do not sustain the soul in trial; they flee away in death. And what a description is this! In a world like this, to be without hope! Subject to trial, exposed to death, and yet destitute of any well-founded prospect of happiness beyond the tomb! They are "without God" also. They worship no God; they confide in none. They have no altar in their families; no place of secret prayer. They form their plans with no reference to the will of God; they desire not to please him. There are multitudes who are living just as if there were no God. Their plans, their lives, their conversation, would not be different if they had the assurance that there was no God. All that they have ever asked of God, or that they would now ask of him, is, that he would let them alone. There are multitudes whose plans would be in no respect different, if it were announced to them that there was no God in heaven. The only effect might be to produce a more hearty merriment, and a deeper plunge into sin. What a world! How strange that in God's own world it should thus be! How sad the view of a world of atheists�"a race that is endeavouring to feel that the universe is without a Father and a God! How wicked the plans which can be accomplished only by labouring to forget that there is a God; and how melancholy that state of the soul in which happiness can be found only in proportion as it believes that the universe is without a Creator, and moves on without the superintending care of a God!

(6.) The gospel produces peace, Eph 2:14-17.

1st. It produces peace in the heart of the individual, reconciling him to God.

2nd. It produces peace and harmony between different ranks and classes and complexions of men, causing them to love each other, and removing their alienations and antipathies. The best way of producing friendship between nations and tribes of men, between those of different complexions, pursuits, and laws, is to preach to them the gospel. The best way to produce harmony between the oppressor and the oppressed, is to preach to both of them the gospel of peace, and make them feel that they have a common Saviour.

3rd. It is fitted to produce peace among the nations. Let it spread, and wars will cease; right and justice will universally prevail, and harmony and concord will spread over the world. See Barnes "Isa 2:4".

(7.) Let us rejoice in the privileges which we now have as Christians. We have access to the Father, Eph 2:18. None are so poor, so ignorant, so down-trodden that they may not come to God. In all times of affliction, poverty, and oppression, we may approach the Father of mercies. Chains may bind the body, but no chain can fetter the soul in its intercourse with God. We may be thrown into a dungeon, but communion with God may be maintained there. We may be cast out and despised by men, but we may come at once unto God, and he will not cast us away. Further.�"We are not now strangers and foreigners. We belong to the family of God. We are fellow-citizens with the saints, Eph 2:19. We are participants of the hope of the redeemed, and we share their honours and their joys. It is right that true Christians should rejoice; and their joy is of such a character that no man can take it from them.

(8). Let us make our appeal, on all doctrines and duties, to the Bible�"to the prophets and the apostles, Eph 2:20. On them and their doctrine we can build. On them the church is reared. It is not on the opinion of philosophers and lawgivers; not on creeds, symbols, traditions, and the decisions of councils; it is on the authority of the inspired book of God. The church is in its most healthy state when it appeals for its doctrines most directly to the Bible. Individual Christians grow most in grace when they appeal most to this "Book of books." The church is in great danger of error when it goes off from this pure "standard," and makes its appeal to other standards�"to creeds and symbols of doctrine. "The Bible is the religion of Protestants;" and the church will be kept pure from error, and will advance in holiness, just as this is made the great principle which shah always govern and control it. If a doctrine is not found in the "apostles and prophets"�"in some part of the Bible it is not to be imposed on the conscience. It may or may not be true; it may or may not be fitted to edify a people; but it is not to be an article of faith, or imposed on the consciences of men.

(9.) Let us evince always special regard for the Lord Jesus, Eph 2:20. He is the precious Corner-Stone on which the whole spiritual temple is reared. On him the church rests. How important then, that the church should have correct views of the Redeemer! How important that the true doctrine respecting his Divine nature, his atonement, his incarnation, his resurrection, should be maintained. It is not a matter of indifference whether he be God or man; whether he died as an atoning sacrifice, or as a martyr; whether he be the equal of God, or whether he be an archangel. Everything depends on the view which is held of that Redeemer�"and as men entertain different opinions about him, they go off into different systems as wide from each other as the poles. Everything in the welfare of the church, and in the individual peace of its members, depends on proper views of the Lord Jesus.

(10.) The church is designed as the place of the special residence of the Holy Spirit on earth, Eph 2:21,22. It is the beautiful temple where he dwells; the edifice which is reared for his abode. How holy should that church be; how pure should be each Christian to be an appropriate habitation for such a guest! Holy should be the heart where the Spirit dwells. With what anxious care should we cherish the presence of such a guest; with what solicitude should we guard our conduct that we may not grieve away our friends from our dwellings! Should an illustrious guest become an inmate in our abode, how anxious should we be to do all that we can to please hin, and to retain him with us! How much more anxious should we be secure the indwelling of the eternal Spirit! How desirous that he should make our hearts and the church his constant abode!

EPHESIANS - Chapter 3

EPHESIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 1

Ephesians Chapter 3


THIS chapter consists, properly, of three parts :�"

I. A statement that the Gentiles were to be made partakers of the gospel, and that the work of proclaiming this was especially entrusted to Paul, Eph 3:1-12. In illustrating this, Paul observes:�"

(1.) That he was the prisoner of Jesus Christ in behalf of the Gentiles, Eph 3:1. He was in bonds for maintaining that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles, and for endeavouring to convey it to them.

(2.) He reminds them all of the fact that he was called, by special revelation, to make known this truth, and to convey to the Gentiles this gospel�"supposing that they had heard of the manner of his conversion, Eph 3:2,3.

(3.) He refers them to what he had said before in few words on this point as proof of his acquaintance with this great plan of the gospel, Eph 3:3,4.

(4.) He speaks of this great truth as a "mystery"�"the "mystery of Christ;" the great and important truth which was concealed until Christ came, and which was fully made known by him, Eph 3:4-6. This had been hidden for ages. But now it had been fully revealed by the Spirit of God to the apostles and prophets in the Christian church, that the great wall of partition was to be broken down, and the gospel proclaimed alike to all.

(5.) The apostle says, that to him especially was this office committed, to proclaim among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, Eph 3:8,9.

(6.) The design of this was to illustrate, in view of all worlds, the great wisdom of God in the plan of salvation, Eph 3:10-12. It was intended to show to other intelligent beings the glory of the Divine perfections, and to make manifestations of the Divine character which could be perceived nowhere else.

II. Paul expresses an earnest wish that they should comprehend the glory of this plan of salvation, Eph 3:13-19. Particularly he desires them not to faint on account of his afflictions in their behalf; declares that he bows his knees in prayer before the great Father of the redeemed family, that God would be pleased to strengthen them, and enlighten them, and give them clear views of the glorious plan.

III. The chapter concludes with an ascription of praise to God, in view of the great goodness which he had manifested, and of the glory of the plan of salvation, Eph 3:20,21.

Verse 1. For this cause. On account of preaching this doctrine; that is, the doctrine that the gospel was to be proclaimed to the Gentiles.

I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ. A prisoner in the service of the Lord Jesus; or made a prisoner in his cause. Not a prisoner for crime, or debt, or as a captive in war, but a captive in the service of the Redeemer. This proves that, at the time of writing this, Paul was in bonds, and there can be no question that he was in Rome. This would be more correctly rendered, "For this cause I, Paul, am the prisoner," etc. So Tindal renders it, "For this cause I, Paul, the servant of Jesus, am in bonds." So also Locke, Rosenmuller, Doddridge, Whitby, Koppe, and others understand it. By this construction the abruptness now manifest in our common version is avoided.

For you Gentiles. Made a prisoner at Rome on your behalf, because I maintained that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles. See Ac 22:21-23. He was taken first to Cesarea, and then to Rome. The cause of his imprisonment and of all his difficulties was, that he maintained that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles; that when the Jews rejected it, God rejected them; and that he was specially called to carry the message of salvation to the heathen world.

EPHESIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 2

Verse 2. , spoken of what is taken for granted." Robinson. Comp. 2 Co 5:3; Ga 3:4; Eph 4:21; Col 1:23, for the use of the particle. The particle here is not designed to express a doubt whether they had heard of it or not, for he takes it for granted that they had. Doddridge renders it, "Since I well know you have heard," etc. He had informed them of his being called to be the minister to the Gentiles, Eph 3:3, but still there was a possibility that they had not received the letter containing the information, and he goes, therefore, into another statement on the subject, that they might fully comprehend it. Hence this long parenthetical sentence�"one of the longest that occurs in the writings of Paul, and expressed under the impulse of a mind full of the subject; so full, as we would say, that he did not know what to say first. Hence it is exceedingly difficult to understand the exact state of mind in which he was. It seems to me that the whole of this long statement grew out of the incidental mention Eph 3:1 of the fact that he was a prisoner for the Gentiles. Instantly he seems to have reflected that they would be grieved at the intelligence that he was suffering on their account. He goes, therefore, into this long account, to show them how it happened; that it was by the appointment of God; that it was in the evolving of a great and glorious mystery; that it was in a cause adapted to promote, in an eminent degree, the glory of God; that it was according to an eternal purpose; and he, therefore, Eph 3:13, says, that he desires that they would not "faint" or be unduly distressed on account of his sufferings for them, since his sufferings were designed to promote their "glory." He was comforted in the belief that he was making known the glorious and eternal plan of God, and in the belief that was for the welfare of mankind; and he, therefore, entreated then also not to be troubled inordinately at his sufferings.

The dispensation, Gr. economy; rendered stewardship Lu 16:2-4; and dispensation, Eph 1:10; 3:2; Col 1:25.

See Barnes "Eph 1:10".

It means here, that this arrangement was made that he should be the apostle to the Gentiles. In the assignment of the different parts of the work of preaching the gospel, the office had been committed to him of making it known to the heathen.

Of the grace of God. In the arrangements of his grace.

Which is given me to you-ward. Toward you who are Gentiles. Not to the Ephesians particularly, but to the nations at large. See Barnes "Gal 2:7".

{*} "ye have heard" "since"

{a} "dispensation of the grace" Col 1:25

{b} "of God" Ro 12:3.

EPHESIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 3

Verse 3. How that by revelation. See Barnes "Gal 1:12.

He refers to the revelation which was made to him when he was called to the apostolic office, that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles, and that he was converted for the special purpose of carrying it to them. See Ac 9:15; 22:21.

Unto me the mystery. The hitherto concealed truth that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles. See Barnes "Eph 1:9, on the meaning of the word mystery.

As I wrote afore in few words. Marg., a little before. To what this refers commentators are not agreed. Bloomfield, Doddridge, Rosenmuller, Erasmus, Grotius, Locke, and others, suppose that he refers to what he had written in the two previous chapters respecting the plan of God to call the Gentiles to his kingdom. Calvin supposes that he refers to some former epistle which he had written to them, but which is now lost. He remarks in regard to this, "If the solicitude of Paul be rightly considered; if his vigilance and assiduity; if his zeal and studious habits; if his kindness and promptitude in assisting his brethren, it is easy to suppose that he wrote many epistles, publicly and privately, to this place and to that place. But those only which the Lord saw necessary to the welfare of his church has he taken care to have preserved." In this opinion there is nothing in itself improbable, - comp. Introduction to Isaiah, § 6,

(1.)�"but it may be doubted whether Paul here refers to any such epistle. The addition which he makes, "whereby, when ye read," etc., seems rather to imply that he refers to what he had just written.

{c} "he made known" Gal 1:12

{+} "mystery" "Secret"

{1} "afore" "a little before"

EPHESIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 4

Verse 4. Whereby when ye read. By the bare reading of which you may understand the view which I entertain of the plan of salvation, and the knowledge which I have of God's method of saving men, particularly of his intention in regard to the salvation of the Gentiles.

In the mystery of Christ. This does not refer to anything mysterious in the person of Christ; or the union of the Divine and human nature in him; or to anything difficult of apprehension in the work of the atonement. It means the hitherto concealed doctrine, that through the Messiah the Gentiles were to be received to the same privileges as the Jews, and that the plan of salvation was to be made equally free for all. This great truth had been hitherto concealed, or but partially understood, and Paul says that he was appointed to make it known to the world. His knowledge on the subject, he says, could be understood by what he had said, and from that they could judge whether he was qualified to state and defend the doctrines of the Gospel. Paul evidently supposed that the knowledge which he had on that subject was of eminent value; that it was possessed by few; that it was important to understand it. Hence he dwells upon it. He speaks of the glory of that truth. He traces it back to the counsels of God. He shows that it entered into his eternal plans; and he evidently felt that the truth which he had communicated in the former part of this epistle was among the most important that could come before the mind.

{a} "mystery" Eph 1:9

{*} "mystery" "secret"

EPHESIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 5

Verse 5. Which in other ages. The great purposes of God in regard to the salvation of mankind were not revealed. See Barnes "Ro 16:25".

And prophets. Those who exercised the office of a prophet or inspired teacher in the Christian church. See Barnes "1 Co 12:1".

By the Spirit. This proves that those who exercised the office of prophet in the Christian church were inspired. They were persons endowed in this manner for the purpose of imparting to the newly-formed churches the doctrines of the Christian system. There is no evidence that this was designed to be a permanent order of men in the church. They were necessary for settling the church on a permanent basis, in the absence of a full written revelation, and when the apostles were away. When the volume of revelation was finished, and the doctrines of the gospel were fully understood, the functions of the office ceased.

{b} "made known" Mt 13:17; Ro 16:25; 1 Pe 1:10-12

EPHESIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 6

Verse 6. That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs. Fellow-heirs with the ancient people of god�"the Jews�"and entitled to the same privileges. See Barnes "Ro 8:17; Eph 2:13-18"

EPHESIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 7

Verse 7. Whereof I was made a minister. See Barnes "Eph 3:2.

According to the gift of the grace of God. It was not by my own seeking or merit; it was a free gift.

Of the grace of God. The sentiment is, that throughout it was a mere matter of grace that he was called into the ministry, and that so important an office was entrusted to him as that of bearing the gospel to the Gentiles.

By the effectual working of his power. Not by any native inclination which I had to the gospel, and not by any, power which I have put forth. It is by "the energy of his power. Comp. See Barnes "Gal 2:8".

Locke understands this of the energy or power which God put forth in converting the Gentiles under his ministry. But it seems to me that it refers rather to the power which God put forth in the conversion of Paul himself, and putting him into the ministry. This is clear from the following verse. The meaning is, that such was his opposition to the gospel by nature, that nothing but the "energy of God" could overcome it, and that his conversion was to be traced to that alone.

{c} "effectual working" Isa 43:13

EPHESIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 8

Verse 8. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints. This is one of the class of expressions peculiar to Paul. The ordinary terms of language do not express the idea which he wishes to convey, and a word is therefore coined to convey an idea more emphatically. Comp. See Barnes "2 Co 4:17".

The word here used�"elacistoterov�"does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. It is a comparative made from the superlative. Similar expressions are found, however, in later Greek writers. See Bloomfield and Rosenmuller for examples. The word means here, "who am incomparably the least of all the saints; or who am not worthy to be reckoned among the saints." It is expressive of the deep sense which he had of the sinfulness of his past life; of his guilt in persecuting the church and the Saviour; and perhaps of his sense of his low attainments in piety. See Barnes "1 Co 15:9".

Paul never could forget the guilt of his former life; never forget the time when he was engaged in persecuting the church of God.

The unsearchable riches of Christ. On the word riches, as used by Paul, see See Barnes "Eph 1:7".

The word rendered unsearchable�" anexicniaston occurs but once elsewhere in the New Testament, Ro 11:33, where it is rendered, past finding out. See Barnes "Ro 11:33".

It means that which cannot be traced out, or explored; Which is inscrutable, or incomprehensible. The meaning here is, that there was a sufficiency in Christ which could not be traced out or explored. It was wholly incomprehensible. The fulness of the riches in him could not be appreciated. There is no more emphatic expression in the New Testament than this. It shows that the heart of the apostle was full of admiration of the sufficiency and glory that was in the Saviour; that he wanted words to express it; and that he considered it the highest honour to be permitted to tell the world that there were such riches in the Redeemer.

{d} "less than the least" 1 Co 15:9

{e} "riches of Christ" Col 1:27

EPHESIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 9

Verse 9. And to make all men see. In order that the whole human family might see the gloW of God in the plan of salvation. Hitherto the revelation of his character and plans had been confined to the Jews. Now it was his design that all the race should be made acquainted with it.

What is the fellowship of the mystery. Instead of fellowship here�"koinwnia�"most Mss. and versions read oikonomia dispensation. See Mill. This reading is adopted by Griesbach, Tittman, Rosenmuller, Koppe, and is regarded by most critics as being the genuine reading. The mistake might easily have been made by a transcriber. The meaning then would be, "to enlighten all in respect to the dispensation of this mystery;" that is, to cause all to understand the manner in which this great truth of the plan of salvation is communicated to men. If the word fellowship is to be retained, it means that this doctrine, or secret counsel of God, was now common to all believers. It was not to be confined to any class or rank of men. Locke renders it, "and to make all men perceive how this mystery comes now to be communicated to the world." Archbishop Whately (Errors of Romanism, ii. § 1) renders it, "the common participation of the mystery;" that is, of truths formerly unknown, and which could not be known by man's unaided powers, but which were now laid open by the gracious dispensation of Divine Providence; no longer concealed, or confined to a few, but to be partaken of by all. The allusion, according to him, is to the mysteries of the ancient pagan religions; and he supposes that the apostle designs to contrast those "mysteries" with Christianity. In those "mysteries" there was a distinction between the initiated and uninitiated. There was a revelation, to some of the worshippers, of certain holy secrets from which others were excluded. There were in some of the mysteries, as the Eleusinian, great and lesser doctrines, in which different persons were initiated. In strong contrast with these, the "great mystery" in Christianity was made known to all. It was concealed from none, and there was no distinction made among those who were initiated. No truths which God had revealed were held back from any part, but there was a common participation by all. Christianity has no hidden truths for a part only of its friends; it has no "reserved" doctrines; it has no truths to be entrusted only to a sacred priesthood. Its doctrines are to be published to the wide world, and every follower of Christ is to be a partaker of all the benefits of the truths which Christ has revealed. It is difficult to determine which is the true reading, and it is not very important. The general sense is, that Paul felt himself called into the ministry in order that all men might understand now that salvation was free for all a truth that had been concealed for ages. Bearing this great truth, he felt that he had a message of incalculable value to mankind, and he was desirous to go and proclaim it to the wide world. On the word mystery, See Barnes "Eph 1:9".

Hath been hid in God. With God. It has been concealed in his bosom. The plan was formed, but it had not before been made known.

Who created all things. This is plain enough; but it is not quite so plain why the declaration is introduced in this place. Locke and Rosenmuller suppose that it refers to the new creation, and that the sense is, that God frames and manages this new creation wholly by Jesus Christ. But the expression contains a truth of larger import, and naturally conveys the idea that all things were made by God, and that this was only a part of his great and universal agency. The meaning is, that God formed all things, and that this purpose of extending salvation to the world was a part of his great plan, and was under his control.

By Jesus Christ. As this stands in our common Greek text, as well as in our English version, there is a striking resemblance between the passage and that in Col 1:15,16. But the phrase is wanting in the Vulgate, the Syriac, the Coptic, and in several of the ancient MSS. Mill remarks, that it was probably inserted here by some transcriber from the parallel passage in Col 1:16; and it is rejected as an interpolation by Griesbach. It is not very material whether it be retained in this place or not, as the same sentiment is elsewhere abundantly taught. See Joh 1:3; Col 1:16 Heb 1:2. If it is to be retained, the sentiment is, that the Son of God�"the Second Person of the Trinity�"was the great and immediate Agent in the creation of the universe.

{f} "mystery" Eph 3:4,5

{*} "mystery" "secret"

{a} "Jesus Christ" Ps 33:6

EPHESIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 10

Verse 10. To the intent. Greek, "that"�"ina. The sense is, that it was with this design, or that this was the purpose for which all things were made. One grand purpose in the creation of the universe was, that the wisdom of God might be clearly shown by the church. It was not enough to evince it by the formation of the sun, the stars, the earth, the seas, the mountains, the floods. It was not enough to show it by the creation of intelligent beings, the formation of immortal minds on earth, and the various ranks of the angelic world. There were views of the Divine character which could be obtained only in connexion with the redemption of the world. Hence the universe was created, and man was made upon the earth, not merely to illustrate the Divine perfections in the work of creation, but in a still more illustrious manner in the work of redemption. And hence the deep interest which the angelic hosts have ever evinced in the salvation of man.

That now. The word now�"nun�"is wanting in the Vulgate, Syriac, and Arabic; and is omitted by many of the Fathers. See Koppe. If it is to be retained, it means that this display is to be made under the gospel. "Now, since the Messiah is come; now, under the Christian dispensation, this revelation is to be made to distant worlds."

Unto the principalities and powers. To the angelic hosts�"the intelligent beings that surround the throne of God. See Barnes "Eph 1:21".

By the Church. By the incarnation of the Redeemer to save it; by the mercy shown to it; by the wise arrangement made to recover his people from the fall; and by all the graces and beauties which that redeemed church will evince on earth and in heaven.

The manifold wisdom of God. Literally, much-variegated. It means the greatly-diversified wisdom. It does not mean merely that there was great wisdom, but that the wisdom shown was diversified and varied; like changing, variegated colours. There was a "beautiful and well-ordered variety of dispensations" towards that church, all of which tended to evince the wisdom of God. It is like a landscape, or a panoramic view passing before the mind, with a great variety of phases and aspects, all tending to excite admiration. In the redemption of the church, there is not merely one form or one phase of wisdom. It is wisdom, ever-varying, ever-beautiful. There was wisdom manifested when the plan was formed; wisdom in the selection of the Redeemer; wisdom in the incarnation; wisdom in the atonement; wisdom in the means of renewing the heart, and sanctifying the soul; wisdom in the various dispensations by which the Church is sanctified, guided, and brought to glory. The wisdom thus shown is like the ever-varying beauty of changing clouds, when the sun is reflected on them at evening. Each aspect is full of beauty. One bright cloud differs in appearance from others; yet all tend to fill the mind with elevated views of God.

EPHESIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 11

Verse 11. According to the eternal purpose. See Barnes "Eph 1:4.

Literally, "the purpose of ages," or of eternity. Locke, Chandler, and Whitby render this, "according to that disposition or arrangement of the ages which he made in Jesus Christ, or through him." The object of such an interpretation seems to be to avoid the doctrine that God had a purpose or plan in the salvation of men, and hence such expositors suppose it refers to the arrangement of the ages of the world by which the plan of redemption was introduced. On the word here rendered purpose�"proyesiv�" See Barnes "Ro 8:28".

Comp. Eph 1:11. It is rendered shewbread�" "the bread of setting before," Mt 12:4; Mr 2:26; Lu 6:4; Heb 9:2; purpose, Ac 11:23; Ac 27:13; Ro 8:28; 9:11; Eph 1:11; 3:11; 2 Ti 1:9; 2 Ti 3:10. It does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. In most of these cases it refers to the purpose or intention of God; in not a single case does it mean arrangement or disposition in any sense like that of making an arrangement of ages or periods of the world; and the interpretation proposed by Whitby, Locke, Clarke, and others, is wholly at variance with the settled use of the word. The word rendered eternal�"aiwnwn�"may mean ages; but it also most usually means eternity. See Eph 3:9. Here it may mean "the purpose of ages;" i.e., the purpose formed in past ages; but the word is most commonly used in the New Testament in the sense of ever, and for ever. Comp. the following places, where it is so rendered in our common version, and beyond a doubt correctly: Mt 6:13; 21:19; Mr 3:29; 11:14; Lu 1:33,55; Joh 4:14; 6:51,58; 8:35; 14:16; Rom 1:25; 9:5; 11:36; 16:27; 2 Co 9:9; 2 Co 11:31; Ga 1:5. The fair meaning of the passage here is, that God had formed a plan which was eternal in reference to the salvation of men; that that plan had reference to the Lord Jesus; and that it was now executed by the gospel. It is impossible to get away from the idea that God has a plan. It is too often affirmed in the Scriptures, and is too consonant with our reason to be disputed. It is as undesirable as it is impossible to escape from that idea. Who could respect or honour an intelligent Being that had no plan, no purpose, no intention, and that did all things by caprice and hap-hazard? If God has any plan, it must be eternal. He has no new schemes; he has no intentions which he did not always have.

Which he purposed. Literally, "which he made."

In Christ Jesus. With reference to him; or which were to be executed through him. The eternal plan had respect to him, and was to be executed by his coming and work.

{c} "eternal purpose" Eph 1:9

EPHESIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 12

Verse 12. We have boldness. The word here used�"parrhsian�"means, properly, boldness of speaking, 2 Co 7:4; Joh 7:26; Ac 4:13,29,31.

Here it seems to mean, "freedom of utterance;" and the idea is, that we may come to God now in prayer with confidence through the Lord Jesus. See Heb 4:16.

And access. See Barnes "Eph 2:18".

By the faith of him. By faith in him. The sense is, that we may now come confidently and boldly to the throne of grace for mercy in the name of the Redeemer. Boldness is not rashness, and faith is not presumption; but we may come without hesitating, and with an assurance that our prayers will be heard.

{d} "boldness" Heb 4:16

{*} "boldness" "freedom of speech"

EPHESIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 13

Verse 13. Wherefore I desire that ye faint not. The connexion here is this. Paul was then a prisoner at Rome. He had been made such in consequence of his efforts to diffuse the Christian religion among the Gentiles. See Barnes "Eph 3:1".

His zeal in this cause, and the opinions which he held on this subject, had roused the wrath of the Jews, and led to all the calamities which he was now suffering. Of that the Ephesians, he supposes, were aware. It was natural that they should be distressed at his sufferings, for all his privations were endured on their account. But here he tells them not to be troubled and disheartened. He was indeed suffering; but he was reconciled to it, and they should be also, since it was promoting their welfare. The word rendered "faint"- ekkakew�"means, literally, to turn out a coward, or to lose one's courage; then to be faint-hearted, etc. See Barnes "2 Co 4:1".

It is rendered faint in Lu 18:1; 2 Co 4:1,16; Eph 3:13

and weary in Ga 6:9; 2 Th 3:13. It does not elsewhere occur. It is rendered here by Locke, dismayed. Koppe supposes it means that they should not suppose that the Christian religion was vain and false because he was suffering so much from his countrymen on account of it. But it rather means that they might be in danger of being discouraged by the fact that he was enduring so much. They might become disheartened in their attachment to a system of religion which exposed its friends to such calamities. Paul tells them that this ought not to follow. They were to be profited by all his sufferings, and they should, therefore, hold fast to a religion which was attended with so many benefits to them�"though he should suffer.

Which is your glory. Which tends to your honour and welfare. You have occasion to rejoice that you have a friend who is willing thus to suffer for you; you have occasion to rejoice in all the benefits which will result to you from his trials in your behalf.

{e} "where is your glory" 2 Co 1:6

EPHESIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 14

Verse 14. For this cause. Some suppose that this is a resumption of what he had commenced saying in Eph 3:1, but which had been interrupted by a long parenthesis. So Bloomfield explains it. But it seems to me more probable that he refers to what immediately precedes. "Wherefore, that the great work may be carried on and that the purposes of these my sufferings may be answered in your benefit and glory, I bow my knees to God, and pray to him:"

I bow my knees. I pray. The usual and the proper posture of prayer is to kneel. Comp. 2 Ch 6:13; Da 6:10; Lu 22:41; Ac 7:60; 9:40; Ac 20:36; 21:5. It is a posture which indicates reverence, and should, therefore, be assumed when we come before God. It has been an unhappy thing that the custom of kneeling in public worship has ever been departed from in the Christian churches.

Unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. To whom, undoubtedly, prayer should ordinarily be addressed. But this does not make it improper to address the Lord Jesus in prayer. See Barnes "Ac 1:24; 7:59,60.

EPHESIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 15

Verse 15. Of whom the whole family. This expression, "of whom," may refer either to "the Father" or to the Lord Jesus. Commentators have been divided in opinion in regard to it. Bloomfield, Chandler, Erasmus, Koppe, and some others, refer it to the Father. Locke, Doddridge, Calvin, and some others, refer it to the Lord Jesus. This is the more natural interpretation. The whole "family of God" means all his children; and the idea is, that they all bear the same name, derived from the Redeemer; all are Christians. No matter where they are, in heaven or in earth; no matter from what nation they are converted, whether Jews or Gentiles, they an have one name, and one Redeemer, and all belong to one family. See Eph 4:4-6.

In heaven. Spirits of just men made perfect. It does not properly refer to angels, for he is not speaking of them, but of the family of the redeemed. If the phrase, "in heaven," could ever be taken to denote the Jews as contradistinguished from the Gentiles, I should think that this was one of the places. Many expositors have supposed that it is frequently so used in this epistle, but I see no clear evidence of it, and no instance where it seems very probable, unless this should be one. And it is not necessary here, for it may mean all the redeemed, whether in heaven or earth, though the connexion would seem rather to have suggested a reference to the Jews and the Gentiles. An expression similar to this occurs in Col 1:20:�""To reconcile all things to himself, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven." The passage before us is one that is commonly explained by a reference to Jewish opinions. The Jews were accustomed to call the angels in heaven God's upper family, and his people on earth his lower family. See the passages cited from the Rabbinical writers in Wetstein.

Is named. This means substantially the same as is. They are all of one family. They all have one Father, and are all of one community. The expression is taken from the custom in a family, where all bear the name of the head of the family; and the meaning is, that all in heaven and on earth are united under one head, and constitute one community. It does not mean that all are called by the same name, or that the name Christian is given to the angels, but that they all pertain to the same community, and constitute the same great and glorious brotherhood. Part are in heaven, near his throne; part in distant worlds; part are angels of light; part redeemed and happy spirits; part are in the church on earth; but they are all united as one family, and have one Head and Father. This glorious family will yet be gathered together in heaven, and will encompass the throne of their common Father rejoicing.

EPHESIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 16

Verse 16. According to the riches of his glory. According to the glorious abundance of his mercy. See Php 4:19. Out of those stores of rich grace which can never be exhausted. The word riches, so often used by Paul, denotes abundance; and the idea here is, that his grace was inexhaustible and ample for all their wants.

To be strengthened with might. To be powerfully strengthened. That is, to give you abundant strength to bear trials; to perform your duties; to glorify his name.

In the inner man. In the heart, the mind, the soul. See Barnes "Ro 7:22".

The body needs to be strengthened every day. In like manner the soul needs constant supplies of grace. Piety needs to be constantly invigorated, or it withers and decays. Every Christian needs grace given each day to enable him to bear trials, to resist temptation, to discharge his duty, to live a life of faith.

{a} "of his glory" Php 4:19

{b} "strengthened" Eph 6:10; Col 1:11

{c} "inner man" Ro 7:22

EPHESIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 17

Verse 17. That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith. See Barnes "Eph 2:22".

Expressions like this often occur in the Scriptures, where God is said to dwell in us, and we are said to be the temples of the Holy Ghost. See Barnes "Joh 14:23" See Barnes "1 Co 6:19".

That ye being rooted. Firmly established�"as a tree is whose roots strike deep, and extend afar. The meaning is, that his love should be as firm in our hearts as a tree is in the soil, whose roots strike deep into the earth.

And grounded. Teyemeliwmenoi�"founded�"as a building is on a foundation. The word is taken from architecture where a firm foundation is laid; and the meaning is, that he wished them to be as firm in the love of Christ, as a building is that rests on a solid basis.

In love. In love to the Redeemer�"perhaps also in love to each other�" and to all. Love was the great principle of the true religion, and the apostle wished that they might be fully settled in that.

{d} "dwell in your hearts" Joh 14:23; Eph 2:2

{e} "rooted" Col 2:7

EPHESIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 18

Verse 18. May be able to comprehend with all saints. That all others with you may be able to understand this. It was his desire that others, as well as they, might appreciate the wonders of redemption.

What is the breadth, and length, etc. It has been doubted to what this refers. Locke says it refers to the mystery of calling the Gentiles as well as the Jews. Chandler supposes there is an allusion in all this to the temple at Ephesus. It was one of the wonders of the world�"exciting admiration by its length, and height, and dimensions in every way, as well as by its extraordinary riches and splendour. In allusion to this, the object of so much admiration and pride to the Ephesians, he supposes that Paul desires that they should become fully acquainted with the extent and beauty of the spiritual temple. But I do not see that there is clear evidence that there is allusion here to the temple at Ephesus. It seems rather to be the language of a heart that was full of the subject, and impressed with its greatness; and the words are employed to denote the dimensions of that love, and are similar to what would be meant if he had said, "that you may know how large, or how great is that love." The apostle evidently meant to express the strongest sense of the greatness of the love of the Redeemer, and to show, in the most emphatic manner, how-much he wished that they should fully understand it. On the phrase "depth and height," See Barnes "Ro 8:39".

EPHESIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 19

Verse 19. And to know the love of Christ. The love of Christ towards us; the immensity of redeeming love. It is not merely the love which he showed for the Gentiles in calling them into his kingdom, which is here referred to; it is the love which is shown for the lost world in giving himself to die. This love is often referred to in the New Testament, and is declared to surpass all other which has ever been evinced. See Barnes "Ro 5:7, See Barnes "Ro 5:8" See Barnes "Joh 15:13".

To know this; to feel this; to have a lively sense of it, is one of the highest privileges of the Christian. Nothing will so much excite gratitude in our hearts; nothing will prompt us so much to a life of self-denial; nothing will make us so benevolent and so dead to the world. See Barnes "2 Co 5:14".

Which passeth knowledge. There seems to be a slight contradiction here in expressing a wish to know what cannot be known, or in a desire that they should understand that which cannot be understood. But it is the language of a man whose heart was full to overflowing. He had a deep sense of the love of Christ, and he expressed a wish that they should understand it. Suddenly he has such an apprehension of it, that he says it is indeed infinite. No one can attain to a full view of it. It had no limit. It was unlike anything which had ever been evinced before. It was love which led the Son of God to become incarnate; to leave the heavens; to be a man of sorrows; to be reviled and persecuted; to be put to death in the most shameful manner�"ON A CROSS. Who could understand that Where else had there been anything like that? What was there with which to compare it? What was there by which it could be illustrated? And how could it be fully understood? Yet something of it might be seen, known, felt; and the apostle desired that, as far as possible, they should understand that great love which the Lord Jesus had manifested for a dying world.

That ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. What an expression! How rich and glorious! Who can comprehend all that it implies? Let us inquire into its meaning. There may be here in these verses an allusion to the temple. The apostle had spoken of their being founded in love, and of surveying the length, and breadth, and depth, and height of that love, as of a vast and splendid edifice; and he now desires that those whom he addressed might be pervaded or filled with the indwelling of God. The language here is cumulative, and is full of meaning and richness.

(1.) They were to be full of God. That is, he would dwell in them.

(2.) They were to be filled with the fulness of God�"to plhrwma tou yeou. On the word rendered fulness, See Barnes "Eph 1:10, See Barnes "Eph 1:23".

It is a favourite word with Paul. Thus he speaks of the fulness of the Gentiles, Ro 11:25; the fulness of time, Ga 4:4; the fulness of him that filleth all in all, Eph 1:23; the fulness of Christ, Eph 4:13; the fulness of the Godhead in Christ, Col 1:19; 2:9. It means here, "that you may have the richest measures of Divine consolation and of the Divine Presence; that you may partake of the entire enjoyment of God in the most ample measure in which he bestows his favours on his people."

(3.) It was to be with all the fulness of God; not with partial and stinted measures of his gracious presence, but with all which he ever bestows. Religion is not a name. It is not a matter of form. It is not a trifle. It is the richest, best gift of God to man. It ennobles our nature. It more clearly teaches us our true dignity than all the profound discoveries which men can make in science; for none of them will ever fill us with the ruiness of God. Religion is spiritual, elevating, pure, Godlike. We dwell with God; walk with God; live with God; commune with God; are like God. We become partakers of the Divine nature, (2 Pe 1:4;) in rank we are associated with angels; in happiness and purity we are associated with God.

{a} "fulness of God" Joh 1:16

EPHESIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 20

Verse 20. Now unto him. It is not uncommon for Paul to utter an ascription of praise in the midst of an argument. See Ro 9:5; Ro 11:36; Ga 1:5. Here his mind is full of the subject; and in view of the fact that God communicates to his people such blessings, that they may become filled with all his fairness, he desires that praise should be given to him.

That is able to do. See Barnes "Ro 16:25".

Exceeding abundantly. The compound word here used occurs only in this place, and in 1 Th 3:10; 5:13. It means, to an extent which we cannot express.

Above all that we ask or think. More than all that we can desire in our prayers; more than all that we can conceive. See Barnes "1 Co 2:9".

According to the power that worketh in us. The exertion of that same power can accomplish for us more than we can now conceive.

{b} "unto him" Ro 16:25; Heb 13:20,21; Jude 1:24

EPHESIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 21

Verse 21. Unto him be glory. See Barnes "Ro 16:27".

In the church or, by the church, Eph 3:10. The church was to be the instrument by which the glory of God would be shown; and it was by the church that his praise would be celebrated.

Throughout all ages, world without end. There is a richness and amplification of language here which shows that his heart was full of the subject, and that it was difficult to find words to express his conceptions. It means, in the strongest sense, FOR EVER. It is one of "the apostle's self-invented phrases," (Bloomfield;) and Blackwall says that no version can fully express the meaning. It is, literally, "unto all generations of the age of ages," or "unto all the generations of the eternity of eternities, or the eternity of ages." It is the language of a heart FULL of the love of God, and desiring that he might be praised without ceasing for ever and ever.


1. It is a great and glorious truth that the offers of the gospel are made to us, who are by nature Gentiles; and that those offers are confined to no class or condition of men�"to no nation or tribe, Eph 3:1-6. This truth had been concealed for ages. The Jews regarded themselves as a peculiar people, and as exclusively the favourites of heaven. The great effort has been made everywhere to show that there was a favoured class of men�"a class whom God regarded with peculiar affection, on account of their birth, or rank, or nation, or wealth, or complexion. In one nation, there has been a distinction of caste carefully kept up from age to age, and sustained by all the power of the priesthood and the laws; and it has been held that that one class was the favourite of heaven, and that every other was overlooked or despised. In another nation, it has been held that the services of an illustrious ancestry made a difference among men, and that this fact was to be regarded even in religion. In another, complexion has made a difference; and the feeling has insensibly grown up that one class were the favourites of heaven, because they had a skin not coloured like others, and that those not thus favoured might be doomed to hopeless toil and servitude. In another, the attempt is made to create such a distinction by wealth; and it is felt that the rich are the favourites of heaven. In all these cases there is the secret feeling, that in virtue of rank, or blood, or property, one class are the objects of Divine interest more than others; and that the same plan of salvation is not needed for them which is required for the poor, for the ignorant, and for the slave. The gospel regards all men as on a level; offers the same salvation to all; and offers it on the same terms. This is one of its glories; and for this we should love it. It meets man as he is everywhere a fallen and a ruined being�" and provides a plan adapted to raise all to the glories of the same heaven.

(2.) Humility becomes us. Eph 3:8. Paul felt that he was the least of all saints. He remembered his former life. He recalled the time when he persecuted the church, he felt that he was not worthy to be enrolled in that society which be had so greatly injured. If Paul was humble, who should not be? Who, since his time, has equalled his ardour, his zeal, his attainments in the divine life? Yet the remembrance of his former life served always to keep him humble, and operated as a check on all the tendencies to pride in his bosom. So it should be with us�"with all Christians. There has been enough in our past lives to make us humble, if we would recall it, and to make us feel that we are not worthy to be enrolled among the saints. One has been an infidel; one licentious; one intemperate; one rash, revengeful, passionate; one has been proud and ambitious; one has been false, dishonest, faithless; all have had hearts opposed to God, alienated from good, and prone to evil; and there is not a Christian in the world who will not find enough in his past life to make him humble, if he will examine himself�"enough to make him feel that he deserves not even the lowest place among the saints. So we shall feel if we look over our lives since we made a profession of religion. The painful conviction will come over our souls, that we have lived so far from God, and done so little in his cause, that we are not worthy of the lowest place among the blessed.

(3.) It is a privilege to preach the gospel, Eph 3:8. So Paul felt. It was an honour of which he felt that he was by no means worthy. It was proof of the favour of God towards him that he was permitted to do it. It is a privilege�"an honour�"to preach the gospel anywhere, and to any class of men. It is an honour to be permitted to preach in Christian lands; it is an honour to preach among the heathen. It is an honour far above that of conquerors; and he who does it will win a brighter and more glorious crown than he who goes forth to obtain glory by dethroning kings, and laying nations waste. The warrior goes with the sword in one hand and the torch in the other. His path is marked with blood, and with smouldering ruins. He treads among the slain; and the music of his march is made up of dying groans, and the shrieks of widows and orphans. Yet he is honoured, and his name is blazoned abroad; he is crowned with the laurel, and triumphal arches are reared, and monuments are erected to perpetuate his fame. The man who carries the gospel goes for a different purpose. He is the minister of peace. He goes to tell of salvation. He fires no city; lays waste no field; robs no one of a home, no wife of a husband, no child of a father, no sister of a brother; he goes to elevate the intellect, to mould the heart to virtue, to establish schools and colleges; to promote temperance, industry, and chastity; to wipe away tears, and to tell of heaven. His course is marked by intelligence and order; by peace and purity; by the joy of the domestic circle, and the happiness of a virtuous fireside; by consolation on the bed of pain, and by the hope of heaven that cheers the dying. Who would not rather be a preacher of the gospel than a blood-stained warrior? Who would not rather have the wreath that shall encircle the brows of Paul, and Swartz, and Martin, and Brainerd, than the laurels of Alexander and Caesar?

(4.) There is ample fulness in the plan of salvation by the Redeemer, Eph 3:8. In Christ there is unsearchable riches, None can understand the fulness that there is in him; none can exhaust it. Millions and hundreds of millions have been saved by the fulness of his merits; and still those merits are as ample as ever. The sun in the heavens has shone for six thousand years, and has shed light and comfort on countless millions; but his beams are not exhausted or diminished in splendour. To-day, while I write�"-this beautiful, calm, sweet day (June 24, 1840 )�"his beams are as bright, as rich, as full, as they were when they were shed on Eden. So of the Sun of righteousness. Millions have been enlightened by his beams; but to-day they are as full, and rich, and glorious, as they were when the first ray from that Sun reached the benighted mind of a penitent sinner. And that fulness is not to be exhausted. No matter how many partake of his abundance; no matter how many darkened minds are enlightened; no matter though nation after nation comes and partakes of his fulness, yet there is no approach to exhaustion. The sun in the heavens may waste his fires and burn out, and become a dark orb, diffusing horror over a cold and cheerless world; but not so with the Sun of righteousness. That will shine on in glory for ever and ever; and the last penitent sinner on earth who comes to partake of the riches of the grace of Christ shall find it as full and free as did the first who sought pardon through his blood. Oh, the UNSEARCHABLE RICHES of Christ! Who can understand this? Who can grow weary in its contemplation?

(5.) There is no good reason why any sinner should be lost, Eph 3:8. If the merits of the Saviour were limited; if his arm were a feeble human arm; if he died only for a part; and if his merit were already well-nigh exhausted, we might begin to despair. But it is not so. The riches of his grace are unbounded and inexhaustible. And why then does the sinner die? I can answer. He dies like the man who expires of thirst while fountains bubble and streams flow all around him; like him who is starving amidst trees loaded with fruit; like him who is dying of fever in the midst of medicines that would at once restore him; like him who holds his breath, and dies while the balmy air of heaven�" pure, full, and free �"floats all around him. If a man thus dies, who is to blame? If a man goes down to hell from lands where the gospel is preached, whose is the fault? It is not because the merits of Christ are limited; it is not because they are exhausted.

(6.) The church is designed to accomplish a most important purpose in the manifestation of the Divine glory and perfections, Eph 3:10. It is by that that his great wisdom is shown. It is by that entirely that his mercy is displayed, Eph 2:7. His power is shown in the creation and support of the worlds; his goodness in the works of creation and Providence; his truth in his promises and threatenings; his greatness and majesty are everywhere displayed in the universe which he has brought into being. His mercy is shown in the church; and there alone. Angels in heaven, not having sinned, have had no occasion for its exercise; and angels that are fallen have had no offer of pardon. Throughout the wide universe there has been, so far as we know, no exercise of mercy but in the church. Hence the interest which the angelic beings feel in the work of redemption. Hence they desire to look into these things, and to see more of the height and depth and length and breadth of the love of God evinced in the work of redemption. Hence the church is to be honoured for ever as the means of making known to distant worlds the way in which God shows mercy to rebellious creatures. It is honour enough for one world thus to be the sole means of making known to the universe one of the attributes of God; and while other worlds may contain more proofs of his power and greatness, it is enough for ours that it shows to distant worlds how he can exercise compassion.

(7.) All tribulation and affliction may be intended to do some good, and may benefit others, Eph 3:13. Paul felt that his sufferings were for the "glory"�"the welfare and honour of the Gentiles in whose cause he was suffering. He was then a prisoner at Rome. He was permitted no longer to go abroad from land to land to preach the gospel. How natural would it have been for him to be desponding, and to feel that he was leading a useless life. But he did not feel thus. He felt that in some way he might be doing good. He was suffering in a good cause, and his trials had been brought on him by the appointment of God. He gave himself to writing letters; he talked with all who would come to him, Ac 28:30,31,) and he expected to accomplish something by his example in his sufferings. The sick, the afflicted, and the imprisoned, often feel that they are useless. They are laid aside from public and active life, and they feel that they are living in vain. But it is not so. The long imprisonment of John Bunyan �"so mysterious to him and to his friends�"was the means of producing the Pilgrim's Progress, new translated into more than twenty languages, and already blessed to the salvation of thousands. The meekness, and patience, and kindness of a Christian on a bed of pain, may do more for the honour of religion than he could do in a life of health. It shows the sustaining power of the gospel; and this is much. It is worth much suffering to show to a world what the gospel can do in supporting the soul in times of trial; and he who is imprisoned or persecuted, who lies month after month, or year after year, on a bed of languishing, may do more for the honour of religion than by many years of active life.

(8.) There is but one family among the friends of God, Eph 3:15. They all have one Father, and all are brethren. In heaven and on earth they belong to the same family, and worship the same God. Let Christians, therefore, first love one another. Let them lay aside all contention and strife. Let them feel that they are brethren; that though they belong to different denominations, and are called by different names, yet they belong to the same family, and are united under the same glorious Head. Let them, secondly, realize how highly they are honoured. They belong to the same family as the angels of light and the spirits of just men made perfect. It is an honour to belong to such a family; an honour to be a Christian. Oh, if we saw this in its true light, how much more honourable would it be to belong to this "family" than to belong to the families of the great on earth, and to have our names enrolled with nobles and with kings!

(9.) Let us seek to know more of the love of Christ in our redemption into understand more of the extent of that love which he evinced for us, Eph 3:16-19. It is worth our study. It will reward our efforts. There are few Christians�"if there are any�"who understand the richness and fulness of the gospel of Christ; few who have such elevated views as they might have, and should have, of the glory of that gospel. It is wonderful that they who profess to love the Lord Jesus do not study that system more, and desire more to know the height, and depth, and length, and breadth of the love of Christ. True, it passes knowledge. We cannot hope fully to fathom it in this world. But we may know more of it than we do. We may aspire to being filled with all the fulness of God. We may long for it; pant for it; strive for it; pray for it�"and we shall not strive in vain. Though we shall not attain all we wish; though there will be an infinity beyond what we can understand in this world, yet there will be enough attained to reward all our efforts, and to fill us with love and joy and peace. The love of God our Saviour is indeed an illimitable ocean; but we may see enough of it in this world to lead us to adore and praise God with overflowing hearts.

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