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He that desires to inform himself in what is left upon record, in sacred Scripture, concerning the church of the Ephesians, which was the metropolis of Asia, strictly so called, may read the 19th and 20th of the Acts.
CHAPTER I. 1, 2.
THESE two verses contain St. Paul's inscription or introduction of this epistle; what there is in it remarkable for its difference from what is to be found in his other epistles, we shall take notice of in the notes.
1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the declared will and special appointment of God, to the professors of the Gospel who are in Ephesus; converts who stand firm in the faith of 2 Christ Jesus: Favour and peace be to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 a Tois as, though rightly translated " saints," yet it does not mean any other than a national sanctification, such as the Jews had, by being separated from the Gentiles, and appropriated to God, as his peculiar people; not that every one that was of the holy nation of the Jews heretofore, or of the holy church of Christ, under the Gospel, were saints, that sense that the word is usually taken now among Christians, viz. such persons as were every one of them actually in a state of salvation. bПss," faithful." We have observed above, that this epistle, and that to the Colossians, have all through a very great resemblance; their lineaments do so correspond, that I think they may be twin-epistles, conceived and brought forth together, so that the very expressions of the one occurred fresh
in St. Paul's memory, and were made use of in the other. Their being sent by the same messenger, Tychicus, is a farther probability, that they were writ at the same time. Tis therefore being found in the introduction of both epistles, and no one other of St. Paul's, there is just reason to think, that it was a term suited to the present notion he had of those he was writing to, with reference to the business he was writing about. I take it, therefore, that, by "faithful in Christ Jesus," he means here such as stood firm to Jesus Christ, which he did not count them to do who made circumcision necessary to salvation, and an observance of Jewish rites a requisite part of the Christian religion. This is plain from his express words, Gal. v. 1, 2, "Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty, where with Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that, if ye are circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing," &c. And those that contended for submission to the law, he calls "perverters of the Gospel of Christ," Gal. i. 7; and more to the same purpose may be seen in that epistle. We shall have an occasion to confirm this interpretation of the word
150s, "faithful," here, when we come to consider the import of the word wisis, "faith," ver. 15. They that would have xa" and " not exegetical here, but used only to join, under the title of "faithful in Christ Jesus," the converts in Asia, I shall desire, besides Col. i. 2, to read also 1 Cor. i. 2, and thereby judge in what sense they are to understand "and to the faithful in Christ Je
CHAPTER I. 3-14.
In this Section St. Paul thanks God for his grace and bounty to the Gentiles, wherein he so sets forth both God's gracious purpose of bringing the Gentiles into his kingdom under the Messiah, and his actual bestowing on them blessings of all kinds, in Jesus Christ, for a complete reinstating them in that his heavenly kingdom, that there could be nothing stronger suggested to make the Ephesians, and other Gentile converts, not to think any more of the law, and that much inferior kingdom of his, established upon the Mosaical institution, and adapted to a little canton of the earth, and a small tribe of men; as now necessary to be retained under this more spiritual institution, and celestial kingdom, erected under Jesus Christ, intended to comprehend men of all nations, and extend itself to the utmost bounds of the earth, for the greater honour of God, or, as St. Paul speaks, "to the praise of the glory of God."
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings, in heavenly places, in Christ:
3 Blessed and magnified be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has, in and by Jesus Christ, furnished usb Gentiles with all sorts of blessings, that may fit us to be
3 a 'Ev Xpise," In Christ," I take to be put here emphatically, and to signify the same with "filleth all in all," ver. 23, which is more fully explained, Col. iii. 11, "where there is neither Greek, nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all, and in all."
"Us." The right understanding of this section, and indeed of this whole epistle, depends very much on understanding aright, who are more especially comprehended under the terms "us" and "we," from ver. 3 to 12. For "us" must signify either, 1. St. Paul himself personally; but that the visible tenour of the discourse at first sight plainly destroys: besides it suits not St. Paul's modesty to attribute so much in particular to himself, as is spoken of " and "we," in this section; or if we could think he would give himself that liberty, yet ver. 12 overturns it all; for as rous @ponazmeras, "we who first trusted in Christ," can by no means be admitted to be spoken by St. Paul personally of himself. Add to this, that in this very chapter, no farther off than ver. 15, St. Paul, speaking of himself, says, "I," in the singular number; and so he does, chap. iii. ver. 7, 8. Or,
2. It must signify believers in general; but that panas, joined to it, will not admit, for we, the first believers, cannot signify we all that are believers, but restrains the persons to some sort of men, that then began to believe, i. e. the Gentiles: and then the next words, ver. 13, have an easy and natural connexion; we other Gentiles, who first believed in Christ, in whom also ye, the Gentiles also of Ephesus, after ye heard, believed. Or,
3. It must signify the convert Jews. But would it not be somewhat preposterous for St. Paul so much to magnify God's goodness and bounty to the Jews in particular, in an epistle writ to a church of converted Gentiles? wherein he addresses himself to the Gentiles, in contradistinction to the Jews, and tells them they were to be made co-partners with them in the kingdom of the Messiah, which was opened to them by abolishing of the law of Moses, intimated plainly in this very section, ver. 7-10: wherein be magnifies the riches of the favour of God, to the persons he is speaking of, under the denomination "us," in gathering again all things, i. e. men of all sorts under Christ the head; which could not mean the Jews alone: but of this he speaks more openly afterwards. Farther, " the same, and denote the same persons; but the "we," ch. ii. 3, can neither here, and "we," ch. ii. 3, must be be St. Paul alone, nor believers in general, nor Jewish converts in particular, as the obvious sense of the place demonstrates for neither St. Paul can be called " we all;" nor is it true that all the convert Jews had their conversation among the Gentiles, as our Bible renders the Greek; which, if otherwise to be understood, is more directly against signifying the Jews. These, therefore, being excluded from being meant by "we" and "us," here, who can remain to be signified thereby, but the convert Gentiles in general? That St. Paul, who was the apostle of the Gentiles, did often, in an obliging manner, join himself with the Gentile converts under the terms us and we, as if he had been one of them, there are so many instances, that it cannot seem strange
4 According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
partakers of his heavenly kingdom, without need of any 4 assistance from the law, According as he chose us Gentiles, upon Christ's account alone, before the law was, even before the foundation of the world, to be his people under Jesus the Messiah, and to live unblameable lives before him, in all
that he should do so in this section; as Rom. v. 1-11, where it is plain all along, under the term "us," he speaks of the Gentile converts. And many other passages might be brought out of this epistle to evince it; chap. i. 11, he saith, "we have obtained an inheritance." Those we, it is plain, chap. iii. 6, were Gentiles. So chap. ii. 5, "when we,” i. e. converts of the Gentiles, " were dead in sins" for I do not remember that the Jews are any where said, by St. Paul, to be dead in sins; that is one of the distinguishing characters of the Gentiles: and there we see, in the same verse, changed into "ye:" and so ver. 6 and 7, having spoken of the Gentiles in the first person, "us," in the beginning of the next verse it is changed into "ye," i. e. " ye Ephesians," a part of those Gentiles. To this I shall add one place more, out of the parallel epistle to the Colossians, chap. i. 12, 13, where he uses nuas, "us," for the convert Gentiles, changing the " ye," in the 10th verse, to "us," in the 12th the matter of giving thanks being the same, all along from ver. 3, where it begins, and is repeated here again, ver. 12, i e. The removing of the Gentiles, out of the kingdom of the devil and darkness, into the kingdom of his beloved Son: or, as he expresses it, Eph. i. 6, "Wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." And in the same sense he uses μ, "us," Col. ii. 14. For those, that the hand-writing of ordinances was against, and contrary to, were the Gentiles, as he declares, Eph. ii. 14, 15, who were kept off from coming to be the people of God by those ordinances, which were that wherein the enmity between the Jews and Gentiles consisted, and was kept up; which, therefore, Christ abolished, to make way for their union into one body, under Christ their head. Other passages, tending to the clearing of this, we shall have occasion to take notice of, as they occur in the sequel of this epistle.
4 ° Εν αυτῷ, "in him," i. e. Christ: in the former verse it is suncnons pas e con ευλογεία εν Χρισῳ. Καθώς εξελέξατο ήμας εν αυτῷ. All which together make up this sense; as it was in consideration of Christ alone, that God heretofore, before the foundation of the world, designed us Gentiles to be his people; so now the Messiah is come, all the blessings and benefits, we are to receive in his heavenly kingdom, are laid up in him, and to be had only by our faith and dependence on him, without any respect to the law, or any other consideration."
d Ay, "saints," in St. Paul's epistles is known to signify Christians, i. e. such as made profession of the Gospel, for those were now the people of God.
See in Col. i. 22, this verse explained, where, comparing it with the immediately preceding words, ver. 21, one may find a further reason to take "us," here, to signify the Gentile converts, the same thing being applied there solely to the Gentile converts of Colosse.
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ, to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
love and affection to all the saints, or believers, of what 5 nation soever; Having predetermined to take us Gentiles by Jesus Christ, to be his sons h and people, according to the 6 good pleasure of his will. To the end that the Gentiles too
"Affection to all the saints." That this is the meaning, may be seen, ver. 15, where to their true faith in Christ, which he was rejoiced with, he joined την αγάπην την εις πανίας τους άγιους, “love_unto all the saints.” The very same thing which he takes notice of, in the Colossians, in the very same words, Col. i. 4. Why love is so often mentioned in this epistle, as chap. iii. 18, and iv. 2, 15, 16, and v. 2, and vi. 23, we may find a reason, chap. ii. 11-22, wherein there is an account given of the enmity between the Jews and Gentiles, which Christ had taken away the cause of; and, therefore, the ceasing of it was one great mark of men's being right in the faith, and of their having true and worthy notions of Christ, who had broke down the wall of partition, and opened the kingdom of heaven to all equally, who believed in him, without any the least distinction of nation, blood, profession, or religion, that they were of before, all that being now done away and superseded by the Prince of peace, Jesus Christ the righteous, to make way for a more enlarged and glorious kingdom, sole'y by faith in him, which now made the only distinction among men; so that all, who agreed in that, were thereby brought to the same level, to be all brethren and fellow-members in Christ, and the people or sons of God, as he says in the next verse.
5 It was not by the observances of the law, but by faith alone in Jesus Christ, that God predetermined to take the Gentiles into the state of sonship, or adoption. This was another particular for which St. Paul blesses God, in the name of the Gentiles: the consideration whereof was fit to raise the Ephesians' thoughts above the law, and keep them firm in adherence to the liberty of the Gospel.
bro, adoption," or "sonship," belonged only to the Jews, before the coming of the Messiah, Rom. ix. 4. For after the nations of the earth had revolted from God, their Lord and Maker, and become servants and worshippers of the devil, God abandoned them to the vassalage they had chosen, and owned none of them for his but the Israelites, whom he had adopted to be his children and people. See Exod. iv. 22. Jer. xxxi. 9. Luke i. 54. Which adoption is expressed to Abraham in these words, Gen. xvii. 7, "I will be a God to thee, and to thy seed after thee;" and to the Israelites, Exod. vi. 7, “I will take you to me for a people, and I will be your God;" and so Lev. xxvi. 12, "I will walk amongst you, and be your God, and ye shall be my people :" And so we see that those whom, Exod. iv. he calls his sons, he calls, in several other places, his people, as standing both, when spoken nationally, for one and the same thing.
1" According to the good pleasure of his will;" spoken here in the same sense with what is said Rom. ix. 18, 23, 24. God, under the law, took the nation of Israel to be his people, without any merit in them; and so it is of