THE CITY OF EPHESUS

                                                                 AND

                                           THE CHURCH AT EPHESUS

 

 

Ephesus was an important city, situated at the mouth of the river Cayster, near the

middle of the western coast of the peninsula of Asia Minor. The term “Asia,” however,

was in those times confined to the Roman province in the west of the peninsula, of

which Ephesus had become the capital nearly two hundred years before it was visited by

Paul. Its inhabitants were half Greek, half Asiatic, and their religion and superstitions were

a compound of the East and the West. Diana, or Artemis, a goddess of the West, was the

chief object of worship; but the style of her worship had in it much of Oriental mystery and

munificence. The temple of Diana was renowned as one of the seven wonders of the world.

It had been two hundred and twenty years building; its roof was supported by one hundred

and twenty-six columns, each sixty feet high, the gifts of as many kings. The image of Diana,

said to have fallen from heaven, was of wood, forming a striking contrast to the magnificence

around. Ephesus was notorious for its luxury and licentiousness. Sorcery or magic, an

importation from the West, was exceedingly common. The Efe>sia gra>mmata

(Ephesian words – a sort of magical formula associated with Diana) were a celebrated

charm, which continued to be used more or less till the sixth century, A.D. Ephesus was a

great and busy center of commerce; “it was the highway into Asia from Rome; its ships

traded with the ports of Greece, Egypt, and the Levant; and the Ionian cities poured

their inquisitive population into it at its great annual festival in honor of Diana.” It is known

from Josephus that Jews were established there in considerable numbers; it is the only

place where we read of disciples of John the Baptist being found, and retaining that

designation; while the case of Apollos coming to it from Alexandria, and that of Aquila

and Priscilla from Rome and Corinth, show that it held ready intercourse with the rest

of the world.  The apostle paid his first visit to Ephesus in his second mission tour

(Acts 18:19-21), but it was very short; in his third tour he returned and remained two

years and three months. The unusual length of time spent by him in the city shows the

importance he attached to the place and the measure of encouragement he received.

His labors were very assiduous, for he visited “from house to house,” and “ceased

not to warn every one of them day and night with tears” (Acts 20:20, 31). The

opposition he met with was correspondingly great. He writes to the Corinthians that

he had fought with beasts at Ephesus, and the tumult that occurred at the instigation

of the silversmiths connected with the temple of Diana, where he was assailed ever so

long with brute force and insensate yelling, justified the expression. At first, the

opposition was chiefly from the Jews; latterly from the pagans too. On his last

recorded journey to Jerusalem he sailed by Ephesus, and summoned the elders of

the Church to meet him at Miletus, where he delivered a solemn charge to them to

continue their work with fidelity and diligence (Acts 20:17-38). He labored under

a great dread of unfaithful teachers arising from among them, and heartless

plunderers falling on them from without, that for selfish ends would make havoc

of the Church. The anxiety which the apostle had about the Ephesian Church seems

to have led him to place Timothy in a peculiar relation to it. There is no mention of

Timothy having been ordained to any special office at Ephesus, but he is called to

do the work of an evangelist” (II Timothy 4:5). The apostle speaks of him more

as his assistant and personal friend than as sustaining an independent and permanent

office in the Church (I Timothy 1:3, 18; 3:14,15; 4:6; II Timothy 4:9,13,21). It has

always been the tradition of the Church that the Apostle John spent the last part of his

life at Ephesus. At Ephesus, Paul was helped by Aquila and Priscilla, and by Apollos,

and he likewise enjoyed a special manifestation of supernatural power, for many

miracles were wrought by him. The first scene of his preaching labors was the synagogue;

but his reception there was so unfavorable that he had to leave it, and then

he reasoned daily in the school of one Tyrannus. His success among the Gentiles was

much greater than among the Jews. The power of the Word of God was so great that it

even subdued those who had become rich by lucrative sin. The power given to Paul to

cast out evil spirits was so manifestly above any that they possessed, that many

exorcists and persons who practiced magical arts became converts to Christ, and gave

proof of their sincerity by burning their books and abandoning forever a business

which may have enriched them for this world, but would have ruined their souls.

The sovereignty of Divine grace was shown in the wide difference between the conduct

of the believers and that of the men who feared that the gospel was going to dry up the

sources of their wealth, and raised the tumult that led to the expulsion of the apostle.

Those who were led by a Divine hand surrendered everything for Christ; those who

followed the impulse of their own hearts would have crucified the Son of God afresh

rather than given up their gains. A Church that had surrendered so much for Christ

could not but be very dear to the apostle. It may be said that we do not find in the

Epistle any special allusion to this sacrifice. But neither does any such allusion occur

in the address to the elders at Miletus nor in the Epistles to Timothy. Possibly the

form of expression in <Ephesians 3:8, “the unsearchable riches of Christ,” may

have been suggested by the fact that, for his sake, many Ephesians had given up the

riches of this world. But both in the Epistle to the Ephesians and in those to Timothy

the mind of the apostle seems to have passed from the minuter features of the

individual character and life to those broad manifestations of corruption, on the one

hand, that marked their unregenerate life, and those precious fruits of Divine grace,

on the other, that thereafter began to adorn their character. The anxieties he had

about the Ephesian Church arose from a restlessness and selfishness of which doubtless

he saw many evidences. It seems to have been a strongly emotional Church —

distinguished for the warmth of its first love (Revelation 2:4). Where there is not a strong

backbone of conscientious fidelity to truth and submission to law, Churches of the

emotional type are very liable to degenerate; hence the anxiety of the apostle, and

hence those forebodings of coming declension that, in one point at least, were verified

before the close of the century (Revelation 2:1-7).

 

                                                           

 

 

 

 

                                                Ephesians 1

 

 

                     ADDRESS AND SALUTATION (vs. 1-2)

 

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ” - Paul’s one but all-sufficient claim on the

Ephesians is his relation to Christ: he is Christ’s apostle, not only as sent forth by Him,

but also as belonging to Him; elsewhere His servant or bondman. He makes no claim to

their attention on the ground of his great experience in the gospel, his profound study of it,

or even his gifts, but rests simply on his being Christ’s apostle; thus recognizing

Christ as the only Head of the Church, and source of authority therein – “by the will of

God” - The First Person of the Trinity, the Fountain of Godhead, has not only devised

the whole scheme of mercy, but has likewise planned the subordinate arrangements by

which it is carried out; thus it was by His will that Paul held the office of an apostle of

Christ – “to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:”

Such persons were the heart and nucleus of the Church, though others might belong to

it. In the fervor of his salutations here and elsewhere, Paul seems to see only the

genuine spiritual members of the Church; though afterwards he may indicate that all

are not such (see Philippians 3:15).  The expression “in Christ” occurs here for the

first time in this Epistle and is found thirty-three (33) times in the New Testament.

 

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

Jesus Christ.”   As in most of Paul’s Epistles, “grace” is virtually the first word and

the last (Ephesians 6:24), equivalent to free, undeserved mercy in all its manifold forms

and manifestations. This Epistle is so full of the subject, that it has been called “The

Epistle of Grace.” The apostle dwells more fully on it than even in the Epistle to the

Romans, and with a more jubilant sense of its richness and sufficiency. Peace is

conjoined with grace; they are like mother and daughter, or like twin sisters. Grace is

the only foundation of true peace — whether peace with God, peace of conscience,

rest and satisfaction of soul, or peace toward our fellow-men.  The source of grace

and peace is “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The two are always in

apposition as the Source of blessing, never in opposition. The notion is eminently

unscriptural that the Father personally burned with anger until the Son rushed in to

appease; both are in beautiful harmony in the scheme of grace. “God so loved the

world, that He gave His only begotten Son.”  (John 3:16)

 

This salutation is more than a pious wish or even prayer; the blessings are brought as

it were to the door of all. It rests with them either to receive them or not. (Remember

II Corinthians 2:15-16, that to some it is “a sweet savor of Christ” and they are

saved”; to others “the savor of death” and they are LOST!  – CY – 2010)  The

blessings brought near are very precious, for God in Christ with all His fullness is

there. The way to heaven does not lie over a “toll bridge”.  Let us beware of trifling

with the offer of God’s free grace in Jesus Christ!  Let us open the door and welcome

 the Lord of grace and peace.

 

           

            THANKSGIVING FOR THEIR DIVINE ORDINATION TO

                        THE BLESSINGS OF GRACE (vs. 3-14)

 

In this glorious anthem, in which the apostle, tracing all to the Divine Fountain, enumerates

the glorious privileges of the Church, and blesses God for them.  God

is the Fountain, Jesus Christ, His Son, is the Dispenser of these blessings.  The

Holy Ghost is He who communicates the grace and peace to us. “Let us therefore

come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace

to help in time of need.”  (Hebrews 4:16) -  Paul first (v. 3)  states summarily the

ground of thanksgiving, expanding it with glowing fullness in vs. 4-14.  These

blessings are stated in detail:

 

·         God’s election – v. 4

·         “holiness and blamelessness” – v. 4

·         acceptance” in Christ – v. 6

·         redemption” through Christ’s blood, especially “forgiveness of sins”

                        v. 7.

·        Abundance of grace, regulated by wisdom and knowledge – v. 8

·        Enlightenment in the mystery of God’s will in reference to the

      Gentiles – v. 9

·        Special knowledge of Christ as the Head of all things – v. 10

·        Fellowship with Christ – vs. 11-12

·        The Sealing of the Holy Spirit as assurance of eternal life – vs. 13-14

 

THESE BLESSINGS CONNECT US WITH HEAVEN. They are “spiritual blessings

in heavenly places.”  (v. 3)  The reason is that Jesus Christ, as our Forerunner, has gone

within the veil, with the anchor of our hope in His hands, to fasten it upon the “two

immutable things in which it was impossible for God to lie” — the promise and the

oath of God, so that we might have a strong consolation who have fled for refuge to the

hope set before us “which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and

steadfast” - (Hebrews 6:18-20). His forerunnership is identified with His

representative position as the Head of all true believers; and His presence in heaven is

not only a sublime guarantee of spiritual blessings accruing to us while on earth, but a

pledge that “where He is we shall be also.”  (John 14:3)

 

Observe the constant allusions to the glory of God’s grace, the riches of His grace,

 the abundance of His grace, the riches of His glory; the munificence of God.

It is the narrowness of our hearts that will not take in this boundless generosity.

 

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:”  Notice that the recipients

of these blessings of grace are “us” – There is no depth of iniquity to which God’s mercy and

grace cannot descend.  (I recommend – The Mercy of God by Arthur Pink – this web

site – CY – 2010)  Here we have:

 

 

  • The Author of our Blessings.  The Author is “the God and Father of our Lord

      Jesus Christ.” Jesus called God His God and His Father (John 20:17) in virtue

      of the state of subjection to Him in which, as the Son of man, He had voluntarily            

      placed Himself. In this aspect and relation to Christ, God is here thanked because

      He hath blessed us in Him.

 

  • Their Nature and Sphere.  En pash>| eujlogi<a| pneumatikh~|: - en pasae

       eulogia pneumatikae - (“in all spiritual blessings”) not merely spiritual as

      opposed to material, but as applied by the Holy Spirit, the office of the

      Third Person being to bring Divine things into actual contact with human souls –

      (John 16:13) to apply to us the blessings purchased by Christ; which blessings

      are ejn toi~v ejpourani>oiv - en tois epouranios - (“in heavenly places.”) 

      They belong to the heavenly kingdom; they are therefore the highest we can

      attain to. The expression occurs three times, and with the same meaning.

 

  • The Medium Through Whom We Have Them.  En Crista~| - en Christa  -

      (in Christ”) - The Medium or Mediator through whom they come is

            Christ; they are not fruits of the mere natural bounty of God, but of His

            redeeming bounty — fruits of the mediatorial work of Jesus Christ. Thus,

            in this summary, we recognize what is eminently characteristic of this

            Epistle — the doctrine of the Trinity, and the function of each Person in

            the work of redemption. No other writing of the New Testament is so

            pervaded with the doctrine of the Trinity. The three great topics of the

            Epistle will be found to be considered in relation to the three Persons of the

            Trinity. Thus:

 

ü      Origin and foundation of the Church, referred to the eternal counsel

      and good pleasure of the Father.

 

ü      The actual birth or existence of the Church with all its privileges, to the

                        atoning grace and merit of the Son.

 

ü      The transformation of the Church, the realization of its end or purpose,

                        in its final holiness and glory, to the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit.

 

                        This throws light on the expression, “every blessing;” it includes

 

Ø      ALL that the Father can bestow;

Ø      ALL that the Son can provide;

Ø      ALL that the Spirit can apply.

 

The resources of all the three Persons thus conspire to bless the Church. In the verses

that follow, the First Person is prominent in vs. 4-6; the second is introduced in vs. 6-12;

and the third in vs. 13, 14. But all through the First Person is the great directing Power.

 

4 According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world” –

literally, He chose us out, or selected us (ejxele>xato) for Himself (middle voice).

The Father chose the heirs of salvation, selected those who were to be quickened from

the dead (Ephesians 2:1) and saved, He chose them in Christ — in connection with

His work and office as Mediator, giving them to Him to be redeemed (John 17:11-12); not

after man was created, nor after man had fallen, but “before the foundation of the

world.” (Revelation 13:8) - We are here face to face with a profound mystery. Before

even the world was founded, mankind presented themselves to God as lost; the work

of redemption was planned and its details arranged from all eternity. Before such a

mystery it becomes us to put the shoes from off our feet, and bow reverently before

Him whose “judgments are unsearchable and his ways past finding out.”  (Romans

11:33) -  that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love:” – This

is obviously the design of God’s electing act; e=inai hJma~v - i’-nahee hay-mas’- (we)

cannot denote the ground, but the purpose, of the choice.   God did not choose some

because he foresaw their holiness, but in order that they might become “holy and

without blame.” These two terms denote the positive and negative sides of purity:

holy — possessed of all the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23); without blame,

or blemish — marked by no stain or imperfection (see Ephesians 5:27). The terms

do not denote justification, but a condition of sanctification which implies

justification already bestowed, but goes beyond it; our justification is a step

towards our complete final sanctification. This renewal being “before Him,”

must be such as to bear the scrutiny of His eye; therefore not external or superficial

merely, but reaching to the very heart and center of our nature (I Samuel 16:7). The

expression further denotes how it is of the very nature and glory of the new life to be

spent in God’s presence, our souls flourishing in the precious sunshine which ever

beams out therefrom. For, when thus renewed, we do not fly from His presence like

Adam (Genesis 3:8), but delight in it (Psalm 42:1; 63:1). Fear is changed to love

(I John 4:18); the loving relation between us and God is restored. It has been much

disputed whether the words ejn ajga>ph| - en agape – (“in love”) ought to be construed

with the fourth verse or with proori>sav –- proorisas – from proori>zw, - proorizo

(“predestinate”)  -  in the fifth. The weight of authority seems in favor of the latter; but we

prefer the construction which is given both in the Authorized and the Revised

Version, first, because if ejn ejga>ph| qualified proori>sav, it would come more naturally

after it; and second, because the scope of the passage, the train of the apostle’s thought,

seems to require us to keep ejn ajga>ph| in v. 4. We never could come to be holy and

without blemish before God unless the loving relations between us were restored

(comp. ch. 3:17, “Rooted and grounded in love”). The spirit of love, trust, admiration,

directed to God helps our complete sanctification — changes us into the same image

(2 Corinthians 3:18).  Holiness is the end of our calling.  The Church of God is to be

finally “without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing” – (ch. 5:27)  Holiness is the way

to happiness!

 

5 Having predestinated (or fore-ordained) us unto the adoption of children by

Jesus Christ to Himself” - The same idea is denoted by proori>sav in this verse

and ejxele>xato in v. 3, but while in xele>xato the idea of selection out from among

others is prominent, in proori>sav the special phase of thought is that of the time,

pro<, - pro – (before) - before the foundation of the world. Both denote the exercise

of Divine sovereignty. In v. 4 we have the ultimate purpose of God’s decree, the entire

sanctification of the elect; here, in v. 5, we find one of the intermediate steps of the process

adoption.”   The apostle’s reason for speaking of adoption in this place,

and of justification afterwards, is that he had just referred to the restoration of a

 relation of love between us and God as connected with our ultimate complete

sanctification; thus it was natural for him to bring in our adoption as the preordained

act in which this loving relation is formed. Our obedience is not the forced obedience

of servants, but the loving obedience of sons. Adoption implies more than sentiment -

a real legal relation to God as His sons (Romans 8:17). The adoption is by Jesus Christ:”

“As many as received him, to them gave He the right to become children of God”

(John 1:12). Jesus was born that He might die. The event of Golgotha not only explains

but completes the event of Bethlehem. Our Savior came to save the lost (Matthew 18:11);

He came to give His life a ransom (Ibid. ch.20:28); He came into the world to save sinners

(I Timothy 1:15); He took part of flesh and blood to destroy death (Hebrews 2:14);

He was manifested to destroy the works of the devil (I John 3:8);

it was on the cross He triumphed over principalities and powers (Colossians 2:15).

And it is eijv aujto<n, - eis auton (unto or into Himself ) - denoting a movement

towards God which terminates in union to Him -  “according to the good pleasure of

His will.”  The spring or motive to the selection is solely in God, not in man. It is an act

of sovereignty. It has been disputed whether “the good pleasure of His will” is

equivalent to benevolentia or to bene placitum. Parallel passages like Matthew 11:26

and Luke 10:21 lead us to prefer the latter. The idea of kindness is not excluded, but it

is not what is affirmed. Kindness is always involved in the Divine will; but the point here

is simply that it pleased God to choose and ordain the Ephesian believers to the privilege

of adoption through Jesus Christ. This is presented as a ground of praise, a reason for

their blessing God. The Divine sovereignty is not presented in Scripture to seekers, but

to finders. It is apt to embarrass those that seek; and accordingly the aspect of God’s

character presented to them is His good will to men, His free offer of mercy: “Look

unto me, and be ye saved;” (Isaiah 45:22 – this is the passage in which Charles

Haddon Spurgeon was converted – CY – 2010) - “Him that cometh unto me I will in

 no wise cast out.”   (John 6:37)  But it is a ground of thanksgiving to those who have

accepted the offer; they see that before the foundation of the world God chose them in

Christ. What an interest He must have had in them, and how thoroughly they may rely

on His finishing the work He has begun! Divine sovereignty, human responsibility, and

the free and universal offer of mercy are all found in Scripture, and, though we are

unable to harmonize them by our logic, ought all to have a place in our minds!

 

 

6 To the praise of the glory of His grace” - with a view to praise being given to the

glory of His grace. The purpose of grace to man, is to make him perfectly holy; from

God, is to give to the universe a right conception of His grace, and draw forth

corresponding tributes of praise. It is to show that Divine grace is not a limp, shallow

attribute, but one of glorious riches, deserving infinite praise. The idea of the richness,

fullness, abundance, of God’s grace is prominent throughout the Epistle. God desires

to draw attention, not only to this attribute, but to the boundlessness of it — thus to

draw the love and confidence of His creatures to Himself and inspire them with the

desire to imitate Him (comp. Matthew 18:21-35) - “wherein He hath made us

accepted in the beloved.”   The glory of the grace of which God desires to create a

true impression is not an abstraction, not a glory hidden away in some inaccessible

region, but a revealed glory, a communicated glory; it is revealed in the grace wherein

He abounded to us, or which He freely bestowed on us, in the Beloved. The grace

bestowed on believers exemplifies the glorious quality of the attribute — its glorious

riches. The connection of God with Christ in the bestowal of this grace, and of

believers in the reception of it, is again noted by the remarkable term, “in the Beloved.”

 That the Father’s relation to Christ was one of infinite love is a fact never to be lost

sight of. His having constituted the Beloved One the Kinsman and Mediator of sinners

shows the riches of the glory of His grace. “He that spared not His own Son, but

delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not, with Him also freely give us all

things?” (Romans 8:32) Our union to the Beloved, our participating in all the blessings

of His purchase, our becoming “heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ,” 

(Ibid. v. 17)  further illustrates the glorious riches of His grace. “Behold, what

manner of love the Father  hath bestowed on us, that we should be called

children of God!”  (I John 3:1)

 

7 In whom we have redemption through His blood” – “In whom” This union

to Christ is the turning-point of all blessing!  Some of the blessings referred to in v. 3

are now specified — beginning with redemption (th<n ajpolu>trwsin -– apolutrosin

salvation, deliverance, redemption). The article makes it emphatic — the

great redemption, the real redemption, compared to which all other redemptions are

but shadows. It is a redemption through blood, therefore a proper propitiation or

expiation, blood being always the emblem of explanation.  It is a “redemption”

which delivers from sin, from Satan, and finally from “death” - The blood of Christ

cleanseth us from all sin” – (I John 1:7) – We were “bought with a price”  - (I

Corinthians 6:20) We are redeemed by “the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb

without blemish and without spot” (I Peter 1:19) - In Christ, or in union to Christ,

we have or are having this blessing; it is not merely in existence, it is ours, we being in

Him by faith: not a privilege of the future merely, but of the present as well –

 the forgiveness of sins”- - Afesinaphesin - deliverance, forgiveness, liberty,

remission) -  denotes release, separation from all the consequences of our transgressions;

equivalent to Psalm 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He

removed our transgressions from us.” – “according to the riches of His grace;” -  

The completeness of the forgiveness, its ready bestowal now, the security of its

being continued in the future, and such like qualities show the richness of His grace

(comp. Matthew 18:27; Luke 7:42, 47).

 

Scriptures clearly teach that forgiveness is the direct result of the atoning death

of Jesus Christ, without any addition of our works of Law to secure exemption

from punishment.  Christ’s blood was shed for the remission of sins.  (Matthew

26:28).

 

8 Wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence” - The

wisdom and prudence refer to God; He has not made His grace abound to us in a

random manner, but in a carefully regulated manner. This is more fully explained

afterwards, (ch. 3:4-6) in reference to God’s concealment for a time of the universality

of His grace, but manifestation of it now. Some have found a difference between

sofi>a – Sophia – wisdom - and fronh>siv, - phronesisintellectural or moral

insight, prudence - the one being theoretical wisdom and the other practical, or the

one intellectual and the other moral; but possibly they may be meant merely to

intensify the idea — the height of wisdom is shown in God’s way of making His grace

abound toward us (comp.Romans 11:33, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the

wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments, and

His ways past finding out!”).

 

9 Having made known unto us the mystery of His will” – The wide extent of God’s

grace was a mystery, i.e. a hidden counsel, before Christ came and died, but it is now

made known. In this, and not in the modern sense of mystery, the word musth>rion -

musterionmystery - is used by Paul. The thing hidden and now revealed was not the

gospel, but God’s purpose with reference to its limits or sphere (see Ephesians 3:6) –

according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself:” - The whole

phraseology denotes that, in this transaction, God was not influenced by any external

considerations; the whole reason for it sprang from within. The threefold expression brings

this out:

 

  • according to His good pleasure (v. 5);
  • He purposed, or formed a purpose;
  • in Himself, without foreign aid, “For who hath known the mind

            of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor?” (Romans 11:34).

 

The whole pre-Christian period was one long preparation for the coming of Jesus

Christ.  It was the turning point between the old and new time, “the pivot on

which the entire plan of God moved” – the Incarnation of Jesus Christ was the

center of gravity to the world’s great movements.  “To whom God would make

known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which

is Christ in you, the hope of glory!” -  (Colossians 1:27) – The inclusion of the

Gentiles in the Church with Jesus Christ as the very Center of the whole Divine

dispensation (I recommend Clarence Larkin’s book Dispensational Truth – CY – 2010)

“To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places

might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God” – (ch. 3:10)

 

10 That in the dispensation of the fullness of times” - (or, seasons) (vs. 9 and 10 are

one sentence, which should not be broken up). This seems to denote the times of the gospel

generally; not, as in Galatians 4:4, the particular time of Christ’s advent; the oijkonomi>a,

oikonomiaor economy, dispensation - of the gospel being that during which, in its

successive periods, all God’s schemes are to ripen or come to maturity,

and be fulfilled - “He might gather together in one all things in Christ” -

jAnakefalaiw>sasqai - an-ak-ef-al-ah’ee-om-ahee; from (ajna>) and  (kefalaio>w)

(in its original sense); to sum up: — is a word of some difficulty. It is true it is derived

from kefa>laion - kef-al’-ah-yon – sum -  The word expresses the Divine purpose —

what God proe>qetoprotheto -  which was to restore in Christ a lost unity, to bring

together disunited elements, viz.- all things -  Christ is the “head” of all!  - God has

made of one blood all the nations of men “hath determined the times before

appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.”  (Acts 17:26) - “both which are

in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him:” Unity is a characteristic of God’s

works. Unity of the solar system, the stars, the heavens. In the moral and spiritual world

there are diverse orders of holy beings. To us only two are known — angels and men.

But there may be many more. All these it is God’s purpose to form into one economy.

Jesus Christ is the Center of this great plan. We have some glimpses of this

in the Apocalypse. Besides countless angels, “Every creature which is in heaven, and

on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in

them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him

that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” -  (Revelation 5:13).

This does not imply that there will be nothing outside this glorious host of holy beings; for the

Apocalypse affirms the contrary.  There is no hint here of a universal restoration.  Such a

notion would be in fiat contradiction to the doctrine of Divine election, which dominates

the whole passage. God’s purpose is to form a united kingdom, consisting of the unfallen

and the restored — the unfallen in heaven, and the restored on earth, and to gather this

whole body together under Christ as its Head (see ch. 3:15).  We cannot say that this

purpose has been fully effected as yet; but things are moving towards it, and one

day it will be wholly realized. “He that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make

all things new” (Revelation 21:5). 

 

  • This subject gives us an exalted conception of the place of honor to be

      occupied by Christ in eternity. As was His humiliation, so will His glory be.

 

  • It gives us also an exalted conception of the glory and dignity of all true

            believers. How glorious the fellowship of such an order of beings! How

            insignificant the honors of earth, for which men toil so hard!

 

even in Him”  - Men try in our day to bring about a union of humanity on a basis

of laws looking “deep within”, or of a policy of socialism, (we have a president that

is talking about “collective salvation” – CY – 2010) or of the creed of “liberty,

equality and fraternity” BUT THE CROSS IS THE ONLY RECONCILER OF

MAN TO GOD AND MAN TO MAN!

 

An ancient prophetic voice spoke of Christ  as the One to whom “shall the gathering of

the people be” (Genesis 49:10). He is the Center of everything in the universe. He is the

Center of nature, for not only were all things made by Him, but in Him they consist;

(Colossians 1:16-17), He is the Center of providence, for He upholds all things by the

word of His power; (Hebrews 1:3),  He is the Center of Christendom, just as He was

the Center of the old theocracy; He is the Center of the Church invisible, for He is its

Head and its Life; He is the Center of heaven, for it is the Lamb that is in the

midst of the throne; (Revelation 5:6), He is the Center of the Godhead itself, Father,

Son, and Holy Ghost. It is, therefore, in Him that “all things in earth and all things in

heaven are re-collected or summed up, for the showing forth, with a luster

before unknown, of the majesty and glory of God. I in them, and thou in

me, that they may be made perfect in one” (John 17:23).

 

11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance” - Even in Him — in whom we

were also made His inheritance. This is the literal rendering of ejklhrw>qhmen, -

ekleronomaen - and it is more expressive than the A.V., “In whom also we have

obtained an inheritance.”  God taking us for His own heritage involves more than

our getting an inheritance from God (see Deuteronomy 4:20, “The Lord hath taken

you... to be unto him a people of inheritance”). (I would like to highly recommend –

Deuteronomy ch. 32  v. 9 – God’s Inheritance by Arthur Pink – this web site – CY-

2010)   It is implied that God will protect, care for, improve, and enjoy His own inheritance;

He will be much with them and do all that is necessary for them. Formerly God’s inheritance

was Israel only; but now it is much wider. All that God was to Israel of old He will be to

His Church now – “being (having been) predestinated according to the purpose” –

The reason why the reference to predestination is repeated is to show that this new

privilege of the whole Church as God’s inheritance is not a fortuitous benefit, but the

result of God’s deliberate and eternal foreordination; it rests therefore on an

immovable foundation – “of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His will.”

Predestination is not an exception to God’s usual way of working; He works, or works out

(ejnergou~tov -–energoutos ) all things on the same principle, according to the decision

to which His will comes. When we think of the sovereign will of God as determining all

things, and in particular determining who are to be His heritage, we must remember how

differently constituted the will of an infinitely holy Being is from that of frail and fallen

 creatures. The fallen creature’s will is often whimsical, the result of some freak or fancy;

often, too, it is the outcome of pride, avarice, sensual affection, or some other evil feeling;

but God’s will is the expression of His infinite perfections, and must always be infinitely holy,

wise, and good. Willfulness in man is utterly different from willfulness in God; but the recoil

we often have from the doctrine of God’s doing all things from His mere bene placitum,

or according to “the counsel of His own will,” arises from a tendency to ascribe to His

will the caprice which is true only of our own.

 

We live in an imperfect world and the weary man may say “I have seen an end of

all perfection” – (Psalm 119:96) but the believer can say in happy assurance, “I

shall be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness” – (Psalm 17:15) – “Blessed are

the dead which die in the Lord, for they shall rest” – not from their works,

but only “from their labors.” – (Revelation 14:13)  - Their rest will be that of

joyful strength, of congenial employment, in a perfect world.  It will be a social blessedness;

for the elect shall be gathered from the four winds, that they may dwell together, seeing

the same glory, singing the same songs, and rejoicing, in the presence of the same Lord.

“To be with Christ” is not inaptly described as the hope of the believer, for He is the

chief and central Source of the heavenly joy.

 

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

The “we” which hitherto has been applied to the whole Church, Jewish and Gentile,

begins to have a more limited reference, and to contrast with “you” in v. 13. The first

we” in this verse embraces all, as in the preceding part of the chapter; the second

(omitted in the A.V.) is conditioned by the words following, and is applicable to the

Jewish Christians, who, through the promises given to the fathers, had seen Christ’s

day afar off, and had thus hoped in Him. This special reference to hJma~v - hay-mas’ –

we -  is followed immediately by a reference in the next verse to uJmei~v - hoo-mice’ – you.

“That we should be to the praise of his glory.” Believers are either in their lives

to be “living epistles of Christ, to be known and read of all men,”  (II Corinthians

3:2-3) as instances of the power of Divine grace, or they are to set forth His praises

by ascribing everything to His grace and nothing to their own merit.  We have been

predestinated to be conformed to His image.”  (Romans 8:29) - The climax of our

hope will be reached at His appearing, for that is the blessed hope of the Church. We

are to hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the

revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:13).

 

13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of

your salvation:” There are two statements here:  Christ is the Savior of sinners; he

has saved me. The first is true, whether I believe in him or not; “If we believe not,

yet He abideth faithful:  He cannot deny Himself! (II Timothy 2:13) -  the second

only becomes true on my believing. Faith is not believing that I am saved; it is

believing in order to be saved. This expression, “in Christ,” is one of the hinges of

the Epistle; it occurs times almost without number, denoting the intimate vital union

through faith between Christ and His people, as of the members to the head, in virtue

of which they not only get the benefit of His atonement, but share His vital influences,

live by faith on the Son of God. Having heard and received the truth as it is in Jesus, the

glad tidings of salvation through a crucified Jesus, they became one with Him, just as

freely as did the believing Jews, and to the same blessed effects. More than that —

in whom also having believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of the

promise;” -  thus receiving a new ground for thankfulness, a new proof of the riches

of the grace of God. Many explain this seal of baptism, which undoubtedly seals

Christ and all His blessings to believers. But though the seal of the Holy Spirit may

have been given in and with baptism, it is not identical with baptism. The impression

of it is partly within believers and partly without.  Within, it is the felt result of the working of

the Holy Spirit — the feeling of satisfaction and delight in the work and person of Christ,

of love, confidence, and joy flowing out toward God, and the desire and endeavor in all

things to be conformed to His will. Without, it is the fruit of the Spirit, the new man,

created in righteousness and holiness after the image of Christ. Within, the Spirit bears

witness with their spirits; without, the transformed life corroborates the inward witness,

and gives it to the world. The first is never complete without the second, nor the second

without the first. The spiritual history of believers is thus presented:

 

  • hearing the truth;
  • believing;
  • being sealed.

 

“The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that

 are His” (II Timothy 2:19); for the Lord sets His mark upon believers to keep them

safe for Himself; and it is also for security, for “we are sealed unto the day of redemption”

(ch.  4:30), that is, to be preserved unto that day, the sealed ones of

the Revelation being expressly sealed for safety (Revelation 7:3).  “And the Lord

said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem,

and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the

abominations that be done in the midst thereof.”  (Ezekiel 9:4)  See also

II Corinthians 1:21-22.  Our sealing is indeed in virtue of the sealing of Christ

Himself; for “Him hath God the Father sealed” – (John 6:27)   For us, God stamps

the image of His Spirit upon the Christian soul; and all that is involved in the Spirit’s

operation — love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness,

temperance (Galatians 5:22) — is worked into man’s spirit; for “we all, with open

 face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same

 image from glory to glory, as from the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18),

that is, as reflecting His image.  A hard, cold, lifeless heart cannot receive the seal. The

believing heart must be melted by the love shed abroad by the Holy Ghost, just as wax is

melted to receive the device carved on the seal, before it can be in a state receptive

enough for taking the impress, that is, the witness of Divine favor and security. 

“Whatever bears God’s image will be safely carried home to His bosom.”  The seal

that may be broken is no security. “Ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (ch. 4:30) 

There, the apostle does not suggest the fear of the Spirit’s withdrawal, but rather the ingratitude

of believers who could grieve One who had done so much for them.  The indwelling

of the Spirit is part of the blessings of redemption, and a security for our enjoying the rest.

Therefore it is called “the firstfruits of the Spirit.” (Romans 8:23) - Three times does

the word “earnest” occur in the New Testament in relation to the work of the Spirit. 

 

The Spirit is called the Spirit of the promise, because He is often promised in the

Old Testament (Isaiah 32:15; Ezekiel 39:29; Joel 2:28, etc.).

 

14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance” -  The gift of the Spirit is not only a seal,

but an earnest, first-fruit, or installment, a pledge that the rest shall follow. The seal of

the Spirit not only assures us of the full inheritance to come, but gives us a right conception

of His nature. It shows us the kind of provision God makes for those whom He takes as

His heritage, His peculiar people. It is an inward heaven the Spirit brings them.

“The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace

and joy in the Holy Ghost.”   (Romans 14:17) - The full inheritance will consist in a

heart in full sympathy with God, and in those occupations and joys, intellectual and

moral, which are most congenial to such a heart -  “until the redemption of the

purchased possession” The until of the A.V. is not textual, and does not give the

force of eijv, ice – to or unto - which implies that the earnest of the Spirit is a

contribution toward the result described; it tends to realize it.  “Redemption” here

is not quite equivalent to “redemption” in v. 7; for there it is a thing accomplished,

here it is a thing to come. It is obvious that here the meaning is the completed

redemption — the full and final deliverance of the Lord’s heritage from all sin

and sorrow, from all the evils and disorders of this life. The term peripoih>se>wv,

per-ee-poy’-ay-sis; - translated  purchased possession,” is an unusual one. But its

resemblance to periou>siov, the Septuagint rendering for “a special people;”

(Deuteronomy 7:6) - its use by Peter, lao<v peripoi>hsewv, “a peculiar people;”

(I Peter 2:9) -the use of the verb ejkklhsi>an tou~ Qeou~ h}n periepoih>sato dia<

tou~ ai[matov aujtou, - “the Church of God, which he hath purchased with His

own blood;” (Acts 20:28) - show that it must be regarded in this place as denoting the

special, own, purchased possession of God, whose final glory is so often presented to

our thoughts in this Epistle - “unto the praise of His glory.” For the third time

in this paragraph, these or similar words are introduced. In this place the precise

meaning is that THE CONSUMATION OF REDEMPTION WILL BE THE

HIGHEST TRIBUTE TO GOD’S GLORY — his infinite excellence will be

wonderfully manifested thereby. Neither men nor angels are qualified to apprehend

the glorious excellence of God in an abstract way; it needs to be revealed,

exhibited in acts and operations. The teaching of this verse is that it will be

manifested with triumphant brightness in the final redemption of the Church, when

the groans of nature shall come to an end, and the creation shall be delivered from

the bondage of corruption into “THE GLORIOUS LIBERTY OF THE SONS

OF GOD”! (Romans 8:21).

 

THE INDWELLING OF THE SPIRIT IS REPRESENTED IN AS THE PLEDGE

OF THE FUTURE LIFE OF THE BODY; (Romans 8:11) for there is a redemption

of the body (Ibid. v. 23), because the Spirit is equally the Source of the life we derive

from Christ, both for body and soul. This earnest redounds to the praise of God’s glory,

as God is glorified in the security of believers.

 

PRAYER FOR THEIR SPIRITUAL GROWTH (vs. 15-23)

 

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

all the saints,” – Faith and love are the two arms and the two eyes without which

Christ can be neither seen nor embraced.  Special mention is made of their faith and

love, as cardinal Christian graces, to which elsewhere the apostle adds hope

(I Corinthians 13:13; I Thessalonians 1:3; II Thessalonians 1:3).  Could this knowledge

of the condition of his correspondents have been derived from hearsay (“having

heard”) if the letter was addressed to the Ephesians, among whom Paul had lived so long,

and whose condition he must have known by personal intercourse (Acts 19:10; 20:31)?

We reply that, though he derived his first acquaintance from personal intercourse, it was

some years since he had been at Ephesus, and the ajkou>sav - akousaaheard – from

which we get the word – acoustics - refers to what he had heard in the interval.

 

16 Cease not to give thanks for you,” - We notice as a remarkable feature of Paul’s

personal religion, as well as his pastoral care, the frequency of his thanksgiving,

making mention of you in my prayers;” - This seems additional to his giving

thanks. “Prayers” (proseucw~n - proseuchon) refers more to supplication and

entreaty. The apostle’s prayers for his spiritual charge are always remarkable. They

are very short, but wonderfully deep and comprehensive; very rich and sublime in

aspiration; powerful in their pleas, whether expressed or implied; and exhaustive in

the range of blessings which they implore.

 

17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,” The invocations

of Paul — the terms by which he calls on God — are always significant, involving a plea

for the blessings sought. God, as “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,” gave to Him the

Holy Spirit without measure, (John 3:34) and might well, therefore, be asked and

expected to give the gifts of the same Spirit to those who were in him” — one with

Him as members of His body. Being also the Father of glory,” and having glorified

Jesus, even after His suffering, with the glory which He had with Him before the

world began, He might well be asked and expected to glorify His people

too -  “may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge

of Him:”  The Ephesian saints had already received the Spirit, for they had been

sealed by Him; but the apostle wishes the Spirit to become a spirit of wisdom and

revelation, for further enlargement in a spiritual sense can only be realized in the direction

of new knowledge.  We desire the individual application of His blessings

to our hearts, that “unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things”  (I John 2:20)   

Knowledge is an essential factor for promoting growth in grace. He does not pray for

holiness, but for knowledge, because he knows it is only through the fuller knowledge

of God, imparted by the Divine Spirit, that holiness can be promoted. Thus he prays

for the Colossians that they may be “filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all

wisdom and spiritual understanding” - (Colossians 1:9); that they may walk worthy

of the Lord unto all pleasing.” He prays for the Philippians that “their love may abound

in knowledge and all judgment” (Philippians 1:9); the knowledge and judgment being

indispensable both for the regulation and for the increase of love. Similarly, Peter prays

for the Christians of the dispersion, that grace and peace may be multiplied through

the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord” (II Peter 1:2). The knowledge of God is

thus the first and best of all the sciences.” “Spirit” here is neither exclusively the Holy

Spirit nor the spirit of man, but the complex idea of the spirit of man dwelt in and

moved by the Spirit of God (Alford). Wisdom seems to denote the general gift of

spiritual illumination; revelation, capacity of apprehending the revealed of

perceiving the drift and meaning of what God makes known, so that it may be a real

revelation to us (comp. Matthew 13:11). jEpignw>sei - ep-ig’-no-sei – full discernment,

knowledge - is something more than mere gnw>sei gno’-seiknowledge –

knowledge of Christ, implying that it is in becoming better acquainted with Christ that

we get the spirit of wisdom and revelation. In seeking to know Christ more, we are in the

true way to get more insight into all that is Divine (comp. John 14:9). The importance of

seeking more knowledge, even after we have believed and been settled

by the Holy Spirit, is here apparent; a growing knowledge is a most healthful feature of

Christian life. “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus

Christ (II Peter 3:18).

 

18 The eyes of your understanding (kardiav - kardiasheart) being enlightened;”  

“The eyes of your heart” is an unusual expression, but it denotes that to see things clearly

there is needed, not merely lumen siccum, (dry light but lumen madidum (a light wet – to

borrow terms of Lord Bacon), not merely intellectual clearness, but moral susceptibility and

warmth — a movement of the heart as well as the head (compare the opposite state,

“blindness of the heart,” Ephesians 4:18).

 

There is a Connection Between the Heart and the Intellect!  the eyes of your

heart being enlightened”.

 

  • THIS IS A SINGULAR EXPRESSION. Yet it is true in philosophy and

true in life, as well as consistent with Biblical language. Scripture speaks of

applying our hearts unto wisdom (Psalm 90:12), and of “the understanding

of the heart” (<420151>Luke 1:51).

 

  • THE HEART POWERFULLY INFLUENCES THE UNDERSTANDING.

      Larochefoucauld says, after his own cynical manner, “The head is the dupe of

      the heart.” There is often undoubtedly a divided interest in the soul of man,

where two powers are fighting for the mastery.  Coleridge said, at a certain

point in his speculative career, “My head was with Spinoza, while my heart

was with Paul and John.” Scripture is most emphatic in marking the connection

between knowledge and holiness. We “grow in grace and in knowledge”

together, the two growths not hindering but helping each other. “Blessed are

the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5;8)  Purity of heart gives

the insight. And purity of heart rather than accuracy of thought, is the order of

the kingdom. “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine,

whether it be of God” (John 7:17).  How often do we find in human life that

interest, vanity, fear, party spirit, determine the conclusions of the intellect!

Our opinions often depend upon our lives quite as much as our lives depend

upon our opinions. Fichte says that our system of thought is often no more than

the history of our hearts.  Our judgment is often swayed by our affections.

 

  • IT IS GOD WHO GIVES THE INSIGHT. “The eyes of your heart

being enlightened.” It is God who “hath given us an understanding to know

Him that is true” (I John 5:20); not a new faculty, but a new quickness

or insight; for “unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of

God” (John 3:3). It is God who giveth the light of the knowledge of

the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus” (II Corinthians 4:6). We

are “not able of ourselves to think a good thought” (II Corinthians 3:5),

and our highest knowledge is a Divine gift. “To you it is given to know the

mysteries of the kingdom of God (Luke 8:10). It ought, therefore, to

be the prayer of every Christian, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may see

wondrous things out of thy Law;” (ch. 119:18) and we are encouraged in our

supplication by the knowledge that “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,

neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath

prepared for them that love him” (I Corinthians 2:9)

 

 

that ye may know what is the hope of His calling,”- the hope which He calls you

to cherish. The glory which He invites you to look forward to, when Christ shall come

again, how sure it is and how excellent! How infinitely it surpasses all earthly glory!

How it at once ravishes and satisfies the heart!  -  “and what the riches of the glory

of His inheritance in the saints,”- (I recommend Deuteronomy ch. 32 v. 9 – God’s

Inheritance by Arthur Pink – this web site - CY – 2010).   If the saints form God’s heritage

(v. 11), it may be asked Where are the riches of God’s glory in them? But it

is not necessary to take the ejn toi~v aJgi>oiv so literally. It may be rendered, “in reference

 to the saints.” The riches of the glory of His inheritance in reference to

the saints is the riches of the glory of their privileges as the Lord’s heritage, or people;

that is, their privileges are glorious. But this glory is not limp, limited — it is

wonderfully rich, full, abundant. God gives liberally — gives as a King,

gives glory to all Christ’s people. “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear,

 then  shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:4); “The glory which

 thou gavest me I have given them.” (John 17:22) ; The difference between this

glory and other glory is, human glory is often unjustly accorded, it passes away with

wonderful quickness; but this glory is real and everlasting. “When the chief

Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” 

(I Peter 5:4).

 

19 And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe,” –

A new object of knowledge is here brought forward — knowledge of a power which

works in us — a great power, a Divine power, a power surpassingly great. The whole

energy of the Divine Being is turned on to our feeble, languid nature, vivifying, purifying,

and transforming it, making it wonderfully active where all was feebleness

before, as the turning on of steam suddenly wakens up a whole mass of inert machinery.

When we think of the glory of the inheritance, we feel unfit for it; our narrow hearts,

cold temperaments, feeble and dislocated faculties, how can they ever be right? Our

fear is removed when we think of the greatness of the Divine power that works in us —

God’s power to transform us so that, “though we have lieu among the pots, we shall be

 as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.”  

(Psalm 68:13)  - “according to the working of His mighty power.” We are now

furnished with a standard and sample of the mighty power which energizes in believers –

are referred to one of its grandest achievements, in order to elevate our conceptions of

what it is capable of effecting in us. In the prophets we find a similar encouragement for

God’s people, in sublime descriptions of the almighty power of Him who was working

in them and for them (Isaiah 40:21-26,  45:7)

 

20 Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead,”- The

same power that produced the marvelous miracle of Christ’s resurrection now works

in the hearts of believers. To appreciate this, we must bear in mind the apostle’s full doctrine

of the resurrection of Jesus, embracing not only the revivifying of His dead body, but

the transformation of that body into a spiritual body, and the constituting of Jesus a second

Adam, who should transmit or communicate to His spiritual seed both a renewed soul and

 a glorified body, as the first Adam transmitted a sinful nature and a corruptible body to

his natural seed. The power that accomplished all this now works in believers, and can

surely work in them all needed transformation - “and set Him at His own right hand

in the heavenly places,” - effecting on him a change alike sudden and marvelous: from

the cross and the tomb to the throne of glory, from being as a worm and no man, to be

higher than the kings of the earth — “King of kings, and Lord of lords.”   

(Revelation 19:16)  - It is frequently represented in Scripture that Jesus in heaven is at

the right hand of God. There must be a spot in the heavens where His

glorified body exists, in immediate contact with some manifestation of the glory of the

Father. There Stephen saw Him; thence He came to meet Saul on the way to Damascus;

and His promise to His people is “Where I am, there shall ye be also!” (John 14:3).

 

21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion,” - Separate

shades of meaning may doubtless be found for these expressions, but the main effect

of the accumulation is to expand and deepen the idea of Christ’s universal lordship.

Hardly anything is revealed to us on the various orders of the spiritual powers,

unfallen and fallen; (I recommend Clarence Larkin’s The Spirit World – CY – 2010)

and the speculations on them in which the Fathers used to indulge  are of no value;

but whatever may be true of them, Christ is exalted far above them all — far above

every creature in earth, heaven, or hell (comp. Psalm 2.; 72.; 110.; Daniel

7:13-14; Philippians 2:9-11) -“and every name that is named, not only in this

world, but also in that which is to come:”  The pre-eminence of His Name is to be

eternal. It shall never be eclipsed by any other name, nor shall there ever be a name

worthy to be coupled with his Name. In human history we find no name that can be

fitly coupled with Christ’s. In the world to come, it shall ever shine forth with an

 unapproached effulgence. All this is said to exalt our sense of the Divine power that

so raised up and exalted the God-Man, Christ Jesusthe same power that still

works in believers.

 

22 And hath put all things under His feet,” - a strong, figurative expression,

denoting high sovereignty. It does not refer merely to defeated and arrested enemies,

but to the whole of creation and the fullness thereof.  They are as thoroughly under

Christ and at His disposal as if they were literally under His feet. As a military commander,

proceeding even through his own country, has power to requisition everything needful for

his army, and deal with all property as may be required for military purposes, so Christ

has the whole creation at his disposal, animate and inanimate, hostile and friendly -  

and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church,” - The exaltation of

Christ is not merely an honor conferred on Himself, but has also a definite practical

purpose; it is for the benefit of the Church. God gave Him to the Church as Head

over all things. The gift of Christ to the Church is the gift of One who has sovereign

authority over all things. The official subordination of Christ to the Father is recognized

throughout this remarkable passage. So in Philippians, though He was “in the form

of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God, he made himself of

 no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the

likeness of men.”   (Philippians 2:5-8; see also I Corinthians 15:24-28)   It is this Jesus,

in the form of a servant and in the likeness of men, that is now Head over all things, and as

such given by the Father to the Church. With such a Head, what need the Church fear,

and what can she want?  It is no new thought that our Lord is at the head of the natural

order of things; for “without Him was not anything made that was made;” (John 1:3) –

“By Him all things consist;” (Colossians 1:17) - He upholds all things by the word

of His power,”  (Hebrews 1:3) for the government is upon His shoulders.” (Isaiah 9:6) –

But by virtue of His mediatorship the elements are made subject to Him — all kings and

nations, all angels in heaven, all fallen angels, all the advances and discoveries of science, are

made tributary to the welfare of the Church. Therefore no weapon formed against her shall

prosper.  Christian people ought to derive comfort and aspiration from the

thought that He who is the Foundation of their religious hopes holds in his hands all

the complicated threads of providence and directs the course of human history. It is

the one Divine hand which clasps together the two great books of nature and revelation.

This thought ought to give fresh breadth and strength and healthiness to all our

thoughts about Him. Above all, let us see in this fact the Divine guarantee for the

safety of the Church. If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) - Jesus

filleth all in all,” (v. 23) and therefore has the inexhaustible resources of the universe

at His disposal for the good of the Church.

 

23 Which is His body,” - The Church is Christ’s body in a real though spiritual

sense. He is the Head, His people the members; He the Vine, they the branches.

(John 15)  He dwells in the Church as life dwells in a living body. He fills it with

His life, replenishes  it with His strength, feeds it with His body and blood, beautifies

it with His comeliness, calms it with His peace, brightens it with His holiness, and

finally glorifies it with His glory.  All things are delivered unto Him of the Father;

and all that He has He has for the Church: “My beloved is mine, and I am his.”

(Song of Solomon 2:16)  - “the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.” The

grammatical structure of the words would lead us to construe “fullness” with “the

Church,” and to regard the Church as Christ’s plh>rwma -play’-ro-mah; -

fullness -  Some object to this, inasmuch as, in point of fact, the Church is often

very empty, and therefore not worthy of the term “fullness.” But it is not meant

that the Church has actually received all the fullness of Him who filleth all in all,

but only that she is in the course of receiving it. The Church on earth is an ever-

changing body, perpetually receiving new members, who are at first empty; so

that it must always in this state be in the course of filling, never filled. It is in the

course of being filled with all Divine things — with all the treasures of heaven. As

the empty cells of the honeycomb are being filled with the sweet essences of

flowers, so the empty vessels of the Church are being filled with the glorious treasures

of God; or, as the courts and compartments of a great international exhibition get

filled up with the choicest products of the lands, so the Church gets filled with the

 handiwork of the grace of God. When the Church is completed, it will be a

representation of the fullness of God; all of God that can be communicated to

men will be made manifest in the Church. For He whose fullness the Church is,

is He that filleth all in all, or filleth all with all. He possesses all things, and He

fills all space with the all things. He fills the ocean with water, the organic world

with life, the firmament with stars, the entire creation with forms innumerable, alike

beautiful and useful. So also he fills the Church. Thus appropriately concludes this

chapter, beginning (v. 3) with thanksgiving to Him who had blessed the Ephesians

with every blessing of the Spirit in Christ Jesus, and now ending with a sublime

picture of the Infinite One filling the Church with these Divine blessings out of

the infinite stores of the kingdom of heaven. Thus we see the quality of richness,

exuberance, overflowing abundance which is so conspicuously ascribed in this

Epistle to the grace of God (comp. Psalm 36:5-12; 103:3-5; Matthew 5:3, etc.).

 

 

 

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