THE CHURCH AT
the western coast of the
was in those times confined to the Roman province in the west of the peninsula, of
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
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
contrast to the magnificence around.
licentiousness. Sorcery or magic, an importation from the West, was exceedingly
common. The Ἐφέσία γράμματα – Ephesia grammata - 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
the ports of
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
while the case of Apollos coming to it from
world. The apostle paid his first visit
(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
silversmiths connected with the
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
to meet him at
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
Church. The anxiety which the
apostle had about the
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
“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
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
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
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).
ADDRESS AND SALUTATION (vs. 1-2)
1 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at
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 (see Galatians 1:1; Acts 26:7;
Galatians 1:11-12). His authority and his dignity as an apostle are thus the highest that
can be: "He that heareth you, heareth me." (Luke 10:16) - “to the saints which are
verses that immediately follow. "Saints" means set apart for God, and, as the result
thereof, persons pure and holy; "faithful" is equivalent to "Believers;" while "in
Christ Jesus" denotes the Source of their life, the element in which they lived,
the Vine into which they were grafted. 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 3:18). With
to the clause, "that are at
“in Christ” occurs here for the first time in this Epistle and is found thirty-three (33)
times in the New Testament.
Address and Salutation (vs. 1-2)
The writer speaks with authority. He is an “apostle,” sent and commissioned directly
by Christ, and acting in His name — a real ambassador of the Lord of glory.
He holds this office “by the will of God;” pursues neither an irregular nor a merely
volunteer course unsanctioned by the supreme Ruler, but acts by the will of God.
Divine blessings are invoked and brought near to the Church, viz.
both of these having their only source for sinners in God and Christ.
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. The blessings brought near are very precious, for God in Christ with all
his fullness IS THERE! Let us beware of trifling with the offer. Let us open the
door and welcome the Lord of grace and peace. “Behold, I stand at the door, and
knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and
will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 2:20)
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 (ch. 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.
The Salutation (vs. 1-2)
The apostle introduces his Epistle by a duplicate order of ideas:
Christ Jesus;” and
4. a double source of authority — “an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.”
· THE AUTHOR. “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.”
As one standing outside the circle of the twelve, who overshadowed all
others by his immense authority, it was necessary he should preface his
Epistle by the mention of his independent apostleship. Yet in no spirit of
vanity or self-assertion does he use the high language of apostolic authority
and inspired conviction. He disclaims all personal merit in his call. His
apostleship was linked with grace in its original bestowal; therefore he
speaks of “grace and apostleship” in the same breath (Romans 1:5); it
was “by the will of God,” not by the suggestion or call of man, that he
found his place in the service of all the Churches. For us the interest of our
author’s name has a profound significance; for, though in language of the
deepest humility he speaks of himself as “the least of the apostles”
(I Corinthians 15:9) and “less than the least of all saints” (ch. 3:8),
he stands before all coming ages as the great apostle of the Gentiles, whose
personal history and writings fill one-third of the New Testament Scriptures,
and who, more than any other apostle, has shaped the theology of Christendom
in its best periods, supplying at once the bone and marrow of the evangelical
system of thought.
ADDRESSED. “The saints which are at
the faithful in Christ Jesus.”
Ø This double title seems to suggest the objective and subjective sides of
Christian life; for if it is God’s work to make saints, “it is man’s to
believe;” we are chosen to salvation “through sanctification of the Spirit
and belief of the truth” (II Thessalonians 2:13). God has joined these
two principles together: let not man put them asunder.
Ø It is in Christ we obtain our standing both as saints and as believers. He
is made unto us “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and
redemption” (I Corinthians 1:30). The expression, “in Christ,” which
occurs here for the first time in this Epistle, is found thirty-three times in
the New Testament. Christian life, like revelation, is Christo-centric.
The Christians at
into a large and influential community, worshipping the Lord under
the very shadow of the great
personal interest in the fortunes of a Church established in the very
acropolis of paganism — the first of the seven
forming the third capital of Christianity, as
labor he had spent in the city, as well as the interest of the Ephesian
Christians in himself and his work which he seeks shortly to intensify by the
projected visit of “a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord”
(ch. 6:21-22). The Apostle Paul was unique among the apostles
of Christ for his quickness in finding out a common ground of interest
among the believers of every place, for his deep yearning after
appreciation, and the heartfelt joy of finding his services recognized by the
Churches he served, as well as by the facility with which he held a hundred
interests in his hand, and engaged the sympathy of all sorts of men in the
cause of Christ.
· THE TERMS OF THE SALUTATION. “Grace be to you, and peace,
from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” This is the apostle’s
usual salutation to Churches — it is only in the pastoral Epistles that he
adds the word “mercy” — but its form suggests a beautiful and significant
blending of the Greek and Hebrew methods of salutation, as if to anticipate
the share of Jew and Gentile alike in the future blessings of the gospel!
(v. 10) How sweetly Christianity sanctifies the common courtesies of life!
Ø The double blessing. “Grace and peace.” The word “grace” has a unique
history among English words. It means ever so many things, all suggestive
of the happiest associations, and has never suffered that contraction of
meaning which has spoiled the moral beauty of so many other words. In
the gospel sense, whether it applies to the origin of man’s salvation or to
the Christian disposition which is the result of it, grace marks a beautiful
movement of life in the direction of blessing given or received. Grace is
the key-note of the Ephesian Epistle. Grace is the well-spring of all
blessings. “The way to heaven lies not over a toll-bridge, but over a
free bridge, even the unmerited grace of God in Christ Jesus.”
Peace is the fruit of grace, which can never be severed from its fruits.
It is the very testament of Christ: “My peace I give unto you: not
as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled,
neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27), the very equanimity, firmness,
serenity, of His own life carried into the lives of His saints. This peace
so “keeps the heart and mind” that nothing can break down a spirit so
established. The two graces are here in their due order; for there is no
peace WITHOUT GRACE (neither is there any peace to the wicked –
Isaiah 48:22; “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it
cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace,
saith my God, to the wicked” - ibid. ch. 57:20 – CY – 2019)
They cover the whole space of a believer’s life; for if it begins in grace,
its latter end is peace. The Lord always has “thoughts of grace and
peace toward us” (Jeremiah 29:11). They are together the bright sum
of the gospel.
Ø The double Source of blessing. “From God our Father, and from the
Lord Jesus Christ.” There is a certain intensity of bright suggestion in the
asserted origin of these blessings. God the Father is the “God of grace”
(I Peter 5:10) and “the God of peace” (Hebrews 13:20-21); and
equally so “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17), and
He is also our Peace (ch. 2:14). But the Father is the original Fountain
of all blessings, and the Son the Dispenser of blessing to us. The
juxtaposition of Christ with the Father is the significant proof of THE
DIVINITY OF THE SON OF GOD! No man’s name can be placed
beside God’s in the dispensation of Divine blessings. The Holy Ghost
is not named, because it is He who communicates the grace and the
peace. Similarly, the believer has “fellowship with the Father and
the Son” (I John 1:3), but the Holy Ghost is the power of this
Ø It is neither improper nor unnecessary to pray for grace and peace,
though we already possess them. We need a continuous supply and a
continuous experience of both blessings. Believers are, therefore, fully
justified in “coming boldly to a throne of grace, that they may obtain
mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
The Salutation of the Saints (vs. 1-2)
In the present case Paul, without associating any brethren with himself,
proceeds to state his apostleship, and to transmit his salutation to the saints
paganism, and this will account for the introduction, as well as many of the
contents, of this magnificent Epistle. We note the following lessons as here
· THE APOSTLESHIP OF PAUL HAD BEEN RECEIVED DIRECTLY
FROM JESUS CHRIST. (v. 1; Galatians 1:15-18) The name “Paul” was
the Roman counterpart of the Hebrew “Saul,” and its use in these
superscriptions to the Epistles was doubtless to conciliate those Christians
who had once been heathen. This Paul, then, the man who had made the
interests of the Gentile world a chief concern, declares that he had
received his apostleship from Christ directly. He thus repudiated any
man-given or man-made apostleship. It is Jesus who alone could make
an apostle, just as it is he alone who can make a minister. All that any
Church can do is to recognize a God-given qualification. Paul was the
apostle of Jesus, the man sent forth by the risen and reigning Lord to
evangelize the heathen. (Review Christ’s calling of Saul – see
Acts 26:15-18) Such a consciousness of Christ’s consecration
gave him great power.
· HE HERE SALUTES LIVING SAINTS. (v. 1.) Monod has
pertinently remarked that, while others seek their saints among the dead,
Paul seeks saints, and so should we, among the living. Saintliness should
characterize all Christians. In fact, a Christian is a “person set apart,
separated from the world, and reserved for the service of Jesus Christ and
for the glory of God, according as it is written, ‘This people have I formed
for myself, they shall show forth my praise.’” (Isaiah 43:21) Accordingly,
not hesitate to call the Christians at
expected from them saintly lives. The very name raised the standard of
profession throughout the Church at
be well for us to use it, and to strive always to deserve its use? It is to be
our saints, like those of
gone; whereas what the age needs is saintliness embodied in flesh and
blood before it. It is only then that it shall come to acknowledge the power
of the Christian faith. Of course, Paul did not imply that every professor at
will. But the very use of the term raised the whole standard of holy living
there and did immense good.
· THESE SAINTS ARE FULL OF FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS. (v. 1)
We take πιστοῖς – pistois – to believers - in this passage in the sense of
men of faith. Paul thus states the principle of their saintliness. They had
learned to trust Christ and to regard Him as their King, and so they came
to be consciously consecrated unto all good works. Fidelity flows from
this living faith in Christ. They prove reliable men because they have
first learned to rely upon the Savior (compare John 20:28; Galatians 3:9).
Let us apply this principle ourselves. If we trust Jesus as we ought, we
shall find the trust working itself out into lovable and lovely lives, and
we too shall be saintly.
· PAUL DESIRES FOR THESE SAINTS THE GRACE AND PEACE
OF GOD. (v. 2.) There is something beautiful in the old forms of
benediction. We lose their fragrance in our cold “Good-byes.” The Greeks
and Romans were accustomed to wish their correspondents “Safety;” the
Jews took the simpler form of” Peace.” But the gospel came to give to
both a deeper meaning and breathe GRACE and PEACE of the deepest
character into HUMAN SOULS! Hence these salutations of the saints.
God’s undeserved favor coming forth as grace finds its effects in the
responsive human heart in a heavenly peace, so that the once troubled
spirit comes into wondrous calm. What Paul is about to state in his Epistle
will not interfere with but rather deepen this holy peace. It is well for us to
see the FOUNTAIN-HEAD of blessing in THE FATHER’S HEART,
to see the channel of communication in his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and
to experience its effect in THE PEACE THAT PASSETH ALL
UNDERSTANDING, which He has ordained should keep our hearts and
minds by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7). The saints are meant to be peaceful
spirits as they consecrate their energies to the service of the Lord.
Address and Salutation (vs. 1-2)
The great verity of which the Epistle to the Ephesians treats is the Church
of Christ. It has its place along with other everlasting verities in the twelfth
chapter of the Hebrews. It exists in no visible community as it exists in the
mind of God. This letter is addressed to the
nothing peculiarly Ephesian about it. There are no Ephesian errors which
are combated. There are no salutations sent to particular members of the
it was addressed as a circular letter to a number of Churches of which
The writer. “Paul.” He was the founder of the
many Churches besides. Of all Christian workers he clearly bears the
palm. It seems as if it would take many of our lives to make up what he
succeeded in putting into the latter half of his. And yet what was Paul?
He at once brings himself into relation to two personalities, two and
yet one. For the first mentioned, Jesus (Accomplisher of salvation)
is the Christ (the Anointed) of the second mentioned.
o His relation to Christ. “An apostle of Christ Jesus.” He was
subordinated to Christ. He is the great efficient Cause who saves
(in the fullest sense):
§ by His Word,
§ by His blood,
§ by His Spirit.
To Him, therefore, must be all the praise of salvation. “Unto Him
that loved us” (Revelation 1:5) But yet He stood in an important
relation to him as an apostle. He was not the only apostle, but he
was as much an apostle as any. He was sent from Christ
(with special authority), as Christ was sent from God. With
special powers his mission was to bring the salvation that was
in Christ to man, and to build up the Church. (Acts 26:15-18)
o His relation to God. “Through the will of God.” This was at once his
abasement and his support. He had no personal merit entitling him to
the position of apostle. At the same time, that position was not a
self-chosen one. It was the will of God that Christ (such is the idea)
should station him, now here and now there, among the Churches.
And whether he was anxiously engaged in the composition of an
Epistle, or whether he was pleading tremblingly with his voice for
Christ, he was supported by the feeling that he was acting at the
Divine instance and under the Divine authority.
Ø The persons addressed.
Generic designation. “To
the saints which are at
members of the
to think of the Old Testament meaning.
people, were all holy, or devoted to God. We are to take this name
to ourselves, not vauntingly as what we are, but humbly as what
we aspire to be.
o Specific designation. “And the faithful in Christ Jesus.” This is a
designation associated with Christ. They were distinctively a Christian
community. We are marked off not merely from those who have no
faith (infidels) or an unholy faith (such as those who think it right to
offer human sacrifices), but also from the
(the one Sacrifice having now been offered), and also from angels,
who admire and adore Christ but have not the same close interest in
Him as sinners of mankind. In the cross we see the Divine purpose
of salvation FULLY DISCLOSED, and, under a sense of our great
demerit, we rest upon Christ (in his boundless merit) as He is
offered to us in the gospel.
· THE SALUTATION.
Ø The two words of salutation.
o Grace. “Grace to you.” The idea to which grace (on God’s part) is
opposed is merit (on our part).
“For merit lives from man to man,
And not from man, O Lord, to thee.”
We feel that, if it were only to fare with our friends according to their
deserving before God, it would not be well with them. There would be
innumerable things for which they could not answer. We therefore
recognize the great condition of their welfare to be that there should
be the outgoing of undeserved favor and of loving care toward them.
And so that is the first thing we put into our greeting.
o Peace. “And peace.” This is not peace of any description, which may
only be a curse in disguise. But it is a peace which is conjoined with
grace. It is a freedom from anxiety, which results from the
consciousness of being loved and mercifully dealt with. It is the
child’s feeling at rest under the shelter of his father’s roof, and,
when he acts amiss, in the enjoyment of his forgiveness.
Ø The twofold source to which we look in salutation.
o First source. “From God our Father.” The fatherly in God is higher
up than His omnipotence. The Father’s heart we have found to be the
source of blessing to ourselves, and we feel that it is only from that
source that others can be truly blessed. He who is gracious to us be
gracious also to them.
o Second source. “And the Lord Jesus Christ.” He is the glorious
Manifestation of the Father’s grace. It is by Him that blessings
have been obtained, and through Him that they come to us.
(“For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things:
to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” - Romans 11:36) “No man
cometh to the Father but by me.” (John 6:44) We must, therefore,
in seeking blessings for our friends, recognize Him as the
Lordly Dispenser in His Father’s house.
The Highest Things in the World (vs. 1-2)
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are
from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” The words set
before us three of the greatest things in human life.
· THE HIGHEST OFFICE IN THE WORLD. “An apostle of Jesus
Ø He was a messenger of the greatest Person. How great was his Master!
Messengers of inferior personages are often but little esteemed, whilst
those of illustrious ones are held in high honor. He who represents a king
receives something of kingly homage. An “apostle” is a representative of
“Jesus Christ,” who is the Son of God, the Creator of the universe, and the
Head of all “principalities and powers.” But what was his message?
Ø He was the bearer of the grandest message. He who bears an important
message — a message on which the interest of a neighborhood or the
destiny of a nation depends, will stamp the hearts of men with awe. An
apostle of Christ delivers the highest message:
o pardon to the guilty,
o light to the benighted,
o freedom to the slave,
o immortality to the dying, and
o salvation to the lost.
Ø He was a messenger of Christ by the “will of God.” Many go out in the
name of Christ, but not according to the Divine will. The Eternal has never
called them to missions so holy and momentous, and hence they
misrepresent the doctrines and the genius of His blessed Son. This was not
Paul’s case. He was called to be an “apostle,” “separated unto the gospel
of God” (Romans 1:1). He felt this. “When it pleased God, who
separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by grace,” etc. What
office in the world approaches this in sublimity? A messenger of Christ by
the “will of God”! He who by the “will of God” bears Christ’s message to
the hearts of men sustains a position, compared with which the most
elevated offices amongst men sink into contempt.
· THE HIGHEST CHARACTERS IN THE WORLD. “To the saints,”
etc. “Saints” and “faithful.” Who are they? They are those who are
consecrated in soul to truth, and love and God, and this because they are
faithful. They are made holy through their faith in Christ. All moral
excellence in man is derived in this way and in no other. Philosophy,
and the Bible show this. Notice, these saints resided at “
chief city in
it had the
world. Its influence upon millions was immense, and its appeal was to
men’s superstition, sensualism, and selfishness. Albeit there were Christians
there, holy and believing men. This shows:
Ø Man is not necessarily the creature of circumstances.
Ø That, with the possession of the gospel, a religious life is practicable
What characters in society are equal to those of genuine “saints”? None.
They are “lights;” without them the social heavens would
be midnight. They are “living stones”; without them the social temple
would fall to ruins. They are “salt;” without them the social body would
become putrescent and pestilential. (Matthew 5:13)
· THE HIGHEST BLESSINGS IN THE WORLD. “Grace and peace.”
Here are two blessings.
Ø Divine favor. “Grace.” The love, the benediction, the approbation of
God. What a boon this!
Ø Spiritual peace. “Peace,” not insensibility, not stagnation, but a repose
of the soul in God. Men through sin have lost peace. “The wicked are like
the troubled sea.” (Isaiah 57:20) Sinners are at war with themselves,
society, the universe, God. But through God’s love, through. Christ souls
are at one with all. “Peace” — sweet word, blessed thing! To the mariner
after a storm, to a nation after a war, how blessed! But far more blessed
to the soul after a life-war with self and its Maker. “He will keep him
in perfect peace whose mind is stayed upon God.” (ibid. ch. 26:3)
Who will say that there are any higher things on earth than are found in
this text? And these highest things, thank God, we may all possess.
We may all, in a sense, be apostles of Christ. We may be
all “saints and faithful.” We may all partake of the “grace” of God and
possess the blessed εἰρήνη – eiraenae – peace.
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:
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.
eulogia pneumatikae - in all spiritual blessing - 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 ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις - 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.
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
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.
The Blessings of Redemption (v. 3)
Full minds overflow in long sentences. The sentence which begins with the
third verse runs on continuously to the fourteenth, marked all the way by
many rich and happy turns of expression. The apostle pours forth his
thoughts with a splendid exuberance, which dazzles common readers, but
is kindling to congenial minds. The whole passage is “a magnificent
anthem,” in which the ideas “suggest each other by a law of powerful
association.” It takes up the spirit of the psalmist, “Bless the Lord, O my
soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy Name” (Psalm 103.).
SOURCE. It is He who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ
Jesus. It is a mistake to represent the Father as a harsh creditor, who has
no point of contact with His debtor except at the moment when the bond is
being discharged; or to represent the Son as the tender and compassionate
Redeemer, who prevails with His Father to grant a salvation He is unwilling
to bestow. The true source of salvation is in the Father’s heart, and the
mission of the Son was to execute the loving will of the Father who is in
heaven. The atonement was the effect, not the cause, of Divine love. Jesus
did not die on the cross that God might be induced to love us, but because
HE DID LOVE US! The cross could not originate Divine love, which is an
eternal perfection of the Divine nature, seeking an object on which to
exhaust its riches. But the cross was the mode in which, for reasons known
to Himself and partially discernible to us, it was expedient and necessary
that His love should be expressed. But then the same God who exacted the
atonement has also provided it; and therefore we may glorify the love of
the Father; for “herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us,
and gave his Son to be the Propitiation for our sins.” (I John 4:10)
FATHER’S HEART, THEY FLOW DOWNWARD TO US IN THE
CHANNEL OF CHRIST’S MEDIATION. The God and Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ is our covenant God. God, being His Father, becomes
our Father; for “we are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus”
(Galatians 3:26). The blessings flow first from the Father to Christ, and
then from Christ to us. Jesus said to Mary, “I ascend unto my Father, and
your Father; to my God, and your God” (John 20:17); not, says
Augustine, “I ascend to our Father and our God,” but first mine, then
yours, as if to indicate the distinction between His own essential Sonship
and their derivative sonship by adoption. But it is a distinguished part of
the Christian’s privilege that not only “he is Christ’s,” but “Christ is God’s”
(I Corinthians 3:23), according to the prayer of Jesus Himself, “All
mine are thine, and thine are mine” (John 17:10); for it was an idea near
to the apostle’s heart that Christ and the Church are one — one Head
and one body — and that Christ in the Church and the Church in
Christ are God’s possession. Therefore we can understand the grandeur
of the conception that ALL GOD'S BLESSINGS DESCEND UNTO US
IN JESUS CHRIST!
earthly blessings — riches, honors, beauty, pleasures — as if New
Testament believers had ascended to a higher platform than that held by
Old Testament saints. God “has provided some better thing for us.”
(Hebrews 11:40) The spiritual blessings include all that is involved in:
Ø the Father’s electing love,
Ø the Son’s satisfaction for sin, and
Ø the Holy Spirit’s application of redemption.
We thus see the relation of believers to the three Persons of the blessed
Trinity. It is “all spiritual blessings,” but they are so linked
together in the Divine order that if you have one you have all: “Whom He
did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also
justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.” (Romans 8:30)
Christ’s ministry began with words of blessing, in the eight beatitudes of his
first sermon (Matthew 5); His gospel brings with it fullness of blessing
(Romans 15:29); and the final glorification of the saints is accentuated in
the glorious words of the Judge, “Come, ye blessed of my Father.”
spiritual blessings in heavenly places. 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 (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) Thus we can understand:
Ø why our hope should be laid up “in heaven” with its “many mansions”
Ø why our hearts ought to be there in supreme aspiration (ibid. ch 3:2);
Ø why our citizenship should be on high (Philippians 3:20); and
Ø why we should identify the scene of our future blessedness
with all that is spiritually aspiring on earth.
Jewish and Gentile believers, with special reference to those who loved
Christ, and maintained their integrity in the great focus or center of Grecian
vice and Eastern fanaticism, to which the Epistle was addressed. There is
no depth of iniquity to which GOD'S MERCY and GRACE cannot descend.
Ascription of Praise by the Church (v. 3)
· THE BLESSED OF THE CHURCH.
Ø God. “Blessed be the God.” It seems better to read, “Blessed be God.”
Thinking of God as infinitely glorious, how can we add to Him by our
praises? How can we by any words or deeds make Him more glorious than
He is? And yet He is pleased to say, “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me.”
(Psalm 50:23) Our praises are pleasing to God, according as they are sincere
and intelligent. When we come upon new and more impressive views of the
Divine character, we cannot help saying with lowly adoring hearts,
“Blessed be God.” There is this outburst of adoration here at the
beginning, and there will be flesh outbursts as we proceed.
Ø God in relation to the Church’s Lord. “And Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ.” The Lord of the Church is He who was anointed Savior of
mankind. He is in the Church, not like a servant, as Moses was, but as a
Son over His own house. He has absolute authority to act in the Father’s
Name in the making of all arrangements, in the dispensing of all blessings.
And in all that Christ has done, or is doing, for the Church, God has the
glory, and is to be adored as Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
· FOR WHAT THE CHURCH BLESSES GOD? “Who hath blessed us
with every spiritual blessing.” We are not to think merely of blessing that
has been actually enjoyed. It is rather blessing without respect to time. It is
all that God has in store for the Church, and that is really inexhaustible
blessing. “In our Father’s house there is enough and to spare.” (Luke 15:17)
He is not exhausted in blessing one, but has more than enough for all; and He
has not one kind of blessing merely, but every kind — all that we can possibly
need to complete our happiness. And he has an infinite willingness and longing
to bestow. He is glorified in our coming to Him with large petitions, in His
bestowing on us large blessings. The blessing being characterized as
spiritual seems to point to the connection of the blessing with the Spirit.
For, as there has been repeated reference already to the Father and the
Son, so now there is reference, though not very explicit, to the Third
Person of the Godhead. It is by the Spirit’s instrumentality, and with the
Spirit’s blessed influences, that the Church is enriched.
· CENTER FROM WHICH THE CHURCH IS BLESSED. “In the
heavenly places.” This indicates the center or height from which the
“Come, thou holy Paraelete,
And, from thy celestial seat,
Send thy light and brilliancy.”
It also indicates the Church’s destination in being blessed. For, though the
Church can bless God for what it has under earthly conditions, there is not
yet the full realization of the idea. It is when drawn to the center, taken up
to the Father’s house, that it will be known HOW GOD CAN BLESS!
· HISTORICAL CONNECTION OF THE BLESSING. “In Christ.” It
is in the historical Christ that the treasury is opened out of which the
Church is blessed.
The Christian Blessings (v. 3)
· CHRISTIANS HAVE BEEN BLESSED WITH MANY BLESSINGS.
Ø Christianity involves blessedness. The declaration of its truths is a
gospel. It is the religion of the cross; yet it is far happier to bear Christ’s
cross than to wear the yoke of sin, and there is no other alternative. The
way of the cross is itself the way of peace and highest happiness.
Ø Christian blessedness is now enjoyed. “Hath blessed us” — literally,
“did bless us.” The gifts of the gospel are not all reserved for the future
world. Indeed, if we enjoy none now, we are not likely to be able to
appreciate any after death (I Timothy 4:8). For:
o Christ has already done all that is necessary to secure us the highest
o many of the best blessings are already within our reach, and do not
depend upon any change of state to be produced by death.
o The Christian blessings are numerous and various. “All spiritual
blessings.” If we have received some blessings there are more to
follow. Already what we have had is beyond reckoning. All do not
receive just the same kind of blessings. Each may look for fresh
· THE CHRISTIAN BLESSINGS ARE SPIRITUAL AND HEAVENLY.
Ø They are spiritual. This word describes them subjectively; it shows what
they are in us. They are inward graces, not material possessions. We may
receive temporal prosperity, and, if so, should ascribe it to the Source and
Author of every good gift. (James 1:17) But we may be denied it, and yet
be none the less blessed of God. It is a mistake for any of us to look for
specially Christian blessings in this category, or to be perplexed at not
receiving them. The true Christian blessings are such things as peace and
joy, light and love, purity and power.
Ø They are heavenly. This word describes them objectively; it points to
what they are in themselves and in relation to their Divine origin. Coming
from God, they belong to “heavenly places.” They are such things as the
forgiveness of sins, and the sympathy and fellowship of Christ, the beatific
vision vouchsafed to the pure in heart, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
Because they are heavenly things they are not beyond our reach; for heaven
is let down to earth now that the kingdom of heaven is in our midst, and
we are lifted up to heaven when we have our treasure there, for there our
heart is. (Matthew 6:21) But it is only the upward gaze that will discern
true Christian blessings. Kirke White writes of “this low-thoughted world
of darkling woe.” The woe is so “darkling” just because the world is so
“low-thoughted.” We cannot find the stars by searching in the dust.
· THESE BLESSINGS DESCEND UPON US FROM GOD
Ø The source of them is in God. Christianity has its origin in God. He
conceived the first thought of it. He sent His Son to bring it to us.
Ø The blessings come especially from God in His character of Father.
God is revealed as Creator, King, Judge; from none of these Divine
characteristics could we expect the blessings of mercy which as
Christians we receive. They are given by a Father.
Ø These blessings flow directly from God’s relations with Christ. He is the
“Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The blessings are given to us through
Christ’s great work of mediation.
Ø It is through our relations with Christ that we enjoy the Christian
blessings. They are “in Christ.” He first receives them, and we have them
by union with Him. We must be “in Christ” ourselves in order that the
blessings may be ours.
· THE ENJOYMENT OF THE CHRISTIAN BLESSINGS SHOULD
INSPIRE OUR MOST HEARTFELT PRAISES. The whole verse is an
utterance of thanksgiving. Surely it is fitting that we should bless God for
such wonderful blessings to us. We cannot repay, but we can at least
thank. “Where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17) must often be the sad question
that should shame our gross ingratitude. The essence of religious worship.
Yet our age has forgotten to worship. We pray, begging favors for ourselves;
we discuss truth, seeking light for ourselves; we work — let us hope
sometimes unselfishly; but where is our worship, adoration, praising of
God? See the grounds for thus blessing God:
Ø in the richness of the blessings;
Ø in our total ill desert;
Ø in the greatness of God, and the consequent depth of His
condescension in stooping to our low estate;
Ø in the cost of the blessings — the precious blood of Christ (v. 7); and
Ø in the wonderful Divine love which inspired the whole work of
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:” According as He hath
chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world”– literally, He chose us out,
or selected us (ἐξελέξατο – exelexato – He chooses) for Himself (middle voice).
The Father chose the heirs of salvation, selected those who were to be quickened from
the dead (ch. 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; εἶναι ἡμᾶς – einai haemas – we should
be - 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 ἐν ἀγάπῃ - en agape – in love - ought to be construed
in this verse or with προορίσας –- proorisas – having predestinated; designating
before- hand; from προορίζω, - proorizo –predestinate in the v.5. 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 ἐν ἀγάπῃ qualified
προορίσας, 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 ἐν ἀγάπῃ
in here. We never could come to be holy and without blemish before God unless the
loving relations between us were restored (compare 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 (II Corinthians 3:18). Holiness
is the end of our calling. The
wrinkle, or any such thing” – (ch. 5:27) Holiness is the way to happiness!
The Origin of Our Blessings: the Election of Grace
The difficulties that attach to this doctrine do not arise from any ambiguity
in the Scripture proofs which support it, but from the nature of the doctrine
itself, and its apparent inconsistency with other doctrines of Scripture.
Many of the difficulties, indeed, that we associate with the doctrine are
involved in the doctrine of Divine providence; so much so that William III.
could say to Bishop Burnett, “Did I not believe absolute predestination, I
could not believe a providence; for it would be most absurd to suppose a
Being of infinite wisdom to act without a plan, for which plan
predestination is only another name.” Predestination is but God’s plan of
action; providence is the evolution of that plan. “If this providence has
ordered and ordained everything which relates to the temporal lot and life,
it is absolutely inconceivable that man’s eternal lot should be determined
without God’s eternal counsel being fulfilled therein” (Oosterzee).
ALL OUR SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS, HAS CHRIST FOR ITS CENTER;
for “God hath chosen us in Him.” We are regarded as existing in Him, even
in the Divine plan. The Son of God is the Firstborn, as well as the eldest
Brother of the vast family of God. He who is the Center of creation,
history, is also THE
HIS WILL, WHICH IS ABSOLUTELY ONE WITH HIS MORAL
PERFECTIONS, AND CANNOT, THEREFORE, PARTAKE OF AN
ARBITRARY CHARACTER. The great question is — Is God or man the
author of salvation? Are not faith and repentance, though man’s acts,
God’s gifts? Is not the Christian God’s workmanship — “created in Christ
Jesus unto good works”? (ch. 2:10) Is it possible to maintain the doctrine of
grace without referring man’s salvation to God? The system which rejects an
election of grace does not make provision for the salvation of a single soul.
of the world.” It is as eternal as God Himself, and not, therefore, founded in
man’s excellence, or even originated by sin, like an after-thought to rectify
disorder or mistake; for believers are chosen, not on the ground of foreseen
holiness, but that they may become holy, their faith itself being the effect,
not the cause, of their election.
“God hath chosen us in Him... that we should be holy and without blame”
— the positive and the negative sides of Christian life — or He hath
“predestinated us to the adoption of children.” A holy God cannot choose
us to be anything but holy. Holiness is the end of our calling, as it is of our
any such thing.” (ch. 5:27) Holiness is the way to happiness. “A holy heart
is a happy heart,” even in this world of care.
election, or an election to covenant privileges; but there is an individual
election inside it: “
the election hath obtained it” (Romans 11:7). This fact is further
manifest from the manner in which the Apostle Paul comforts believers,
and urges them to sanctification by reminding them of their personal
election. Believers are comforted besides with the assurance that their
names are written in heaven, or in the book of life (Philippians 4:3;
Luke 10:20; Hebrews 12:23).
5 “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to
Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” Having predestinated
(or fore-ordained) us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself” –
The same idea is denoted by προορίσας in this verse
and ἐξελέξατο in v. 3, but while in ἐξελέξατο the idea of selection out from among
others is prominent, in προορίσας the special phase of thought is that of the time,
πρὸ - 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
explains but completes the event of
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 εἰς αὐτὸν - 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!
Adoption (v. 5)
· In a certain sense, all men are children of God (Malachi 2:10); i.e.
God has a fatherly interest in them and yearning towards them. But sinners
have forfeited the rights and position of sons; they are like the prodigal
son, “not worthy to be called thy son.” (Luke 15:19) Thus they have no
claim on God. Nay, they are “children of wrath” (ch. 2:3).
· Sonship in God’s family is for sinners only the fruit of adoption.
Adoption is solely by grace, through Jesus Christ. It is the result of Divine
predestination. It belongs only to “as many as receive him” (John 1:12).
It is the fruit of spiritual oneness with Christ. When we are by faith united
to the eternal Son of God, we become, in a lower sense, sons of God
· Sonship has many privileges; parallel between nature and grace. Sons
have a right to a due provision, to protection and shelter, to education and
training; they share their father’s house; they get the benefit of his
experience, wisdom, counsel; they enjoy his fellowship, and are molded by
his example and influence.
· Sonship has many duties:
with the father in His designs and aims.
· In Christ, sonship is INDISSOLUBLE and EVERLASTING!
The Adoption (v. 5)
“Having predestinated us to the adoption of sons by Jesus Christ to
Himself.” “Adoption” in Scripture expresses more than a change of relation
— it includes the change of nature as well as the change of relation. It thus
combines the blessings of justification and sanctification, or represents the
complex condition of the believer as at once the subject of both. In a word,
it presents the new creature in his new relations. This passage teaches:
for we are predestinated thereunto. By nature we have no claim to it. “It is
not a natural but a constituted relationship.” The idea is not of sonship
merely, but of sonship by adoption. None can adopt into the family of God
but GOD HIMSELF, and therefore it may be regarded as an act of pure grace
and love. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us,
that we should be called the sons of God!” (I John 3:1). He may ask
the question, “How shall I put thee among the children?” (Jeremiah 3:19)
but He has answered it graciously in the line of covenant promise: “I will
be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the
Lord” (II Corinthians 6:18).
AND MEDIATION OF CHRIST. He is not merely the Pattern of sonship
to which we are to be conformed, but the adoption is “by Jesus Christ.”
The apostle declares elsewhere that “we are all the children of God by faith
in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26), and that “God sent forth His Son,
made of a woman, made under the Law, to redeem them that were under
the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (ibid. ch. 4:4-5).
It is evident from these passages that we do not receive the adoption
merely in virtue of Christ’s incarnation. Some modern divines hold that the
adoption springs, not from the death, but from the birth of Christ; that its
benefits are conferred upon every member of the human race by virtue of
the Incarnation; that Christ being one with every man, the Root and
Archetype of humanity, all men are in Him adopted and saved, and that
nothing remains for faith but to discern this oneness and His salvation as
already belonging to us.
Ø This theory makes Christ, and not Adam, the Head of humanity. Yet
o Adam the true head of humanity, and
o Christ the Head of the redeemed.
Christ is no doubt called “the Head of every man” (I Corinthians 11:9),
in so far as He is “the Firstborn of every creature,” and as “all things were
created” by Him and for Him (Colossians 1:15-16); but the allusion is not to
the Incarnation at all, but to the pre-existent state of the Son, and to the
fact that, according to the original state of things, the world was
constituted in Him. But the whole race of man is represented as in Adam
(Romans 5:12). How else can we understand the parallel between the
natural.” “The first man was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a
quickening spirit.” (I Corinthians 15:45-46) Is it proper to regard Christ as
the Archetype of fallen humanity alienated from God, and needing to be
created anew in the Divine image (Colossians 3:10; here, ch. 4:24)?
Ø This theory is inconsistent with Scripture, which makes the Incarnation
and the cross inseparable. They are both means to an end: the expiation of
sin, the vindication of Divine justice — the meritorious obedience to be
rendered to the Law. Jesus was born that He might die. The event of
Golgotha not only explains but completes the event of Bethlehem. Our
o to save the lost (Matthew 18:11);
o to give His life a ransom (ibid. ch. 20:28);
o into the world to save sinners (I Timothy 1:15);
o to take part in flesh and blood to destroy death (Hebrews 2:14);
o to be manifested to destroy the works of the devil (I John 3:8);
o to die on the cross and triumph over principalities and powers
There are a hundred passages in Scripture which ascribe our salvation to
His death to one passage ascribing it to His birth. It is a suggestive
circumstance that He should have appointed a festival to commemorate
His death — the Lord’s Supper — and should have appointed no similar
festival to commemorate his birth. The effect, if not the design, of this
theory is to destroy the necessity for the atonement, and thus to avoid
the offence of the cross. The Incarnation is presented to us as a remedial
arrangement by virtue of its connection with the cross, and
the connection of man with Christ is represented as corrective of His
connection with Adam. Our primary connection is with the first Adam, and
we only attain to connection with Christ by regeneration.
CHRIST BY FAITH. Scripture is exceedingly plain in its testimony upon
this point. “Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus”
(Galatians 3:26); “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to
become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name” (John
1:12); “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God”
(Romans 8:14). Yet it is said that faith does not make the sonship, but
discerns it as already ours. The proper office of faith, however, is not to
recognize the blessing of adoption as ours, but “to receive and rest upon
Christ alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.” The
blessings of salvation are not conferred on all men prior to their faith or
without their faith. The union between Christ and believers, of which the
Scripture is so full, is not accomplished by our Lord’s assumption of our
common nature, but is only realized through an appropriating faith
wrought in each of us BY THE GRACE OF GOD!
BELIEVERS AT LAST INTO COMMUNION WITH GOD HIMSELF.
“Ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” (I Corinthians 3:23) We are brought
into the Divine family — “the family in heaven and in earth” (ch. 3:15) —
of which God is the Father; for “adoption finds its ultimate enjoyment and
blessing in God.” If we are thus brought to God and belong to God in
virtue of our adoption, ought we not with a profound earnestness to aim at
a high and spiritual tone of living?
6 “To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in
the beloved.” 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)
The Electing and Adopting Love of God (vs. 3-6)
As soon as the salutation of the saints is over, Paul proceeds to speak
about the blessings he and they have received from God. One curious
expression meets us and constitutes the key of the whole passage; it is “the
heavenly places” (ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις – en tois epouraniois – among the
celestial ones) wherein the spiritual blessing is experienced. This cannot mean
merely that out of the heavenly places the gracious Father pours His spiritual
blessings upon selected souls; but, as a comparison of ch. 2:6 will show, it means
that the adopted ones are elevated in spirit even to the heavenly places, where they
as spiritually ascended ones can survey the Divine purposes and appreciate the
Divine blessings in a way impossible otherwise. Let us, then, betake ourselves to
these “heavenly places” by the blessing of the Spirit, and see how the
Divine plan looks from such a vantage-ground. It is in this way we shall
escape much of the obscure thinking which prevails upon the electing love
of God. And we are here taught:
· THE FOUNTAIN-HEAD OF BLESSING IS GOD THE FATHER.
(v. 3.) Paul puts “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” at the head of all
things. Out of that paternal heart ALL SPIRITUAL BLESSING COMES!
The dispensation of grace is OVERSHADOWED BY A FATHER! All the
love which wells up out of parents’ hearts for their children, all the love they
lavish with varying success upon their prodigals, but faintly images the
wondrous love that wells out of the heart of God. Yet the image, though but
faint, is real, and we may climb by the firm footing of analogy up from human
experience to some comprehension of the DIVINE LOVE and PLAN.
Just as earthly fathers plan blessings of all kinds for their children, and give
them these on certain understandings, so is it with the infinite Father above.
It is a Father with whom we have to deal, the “Father of our Lord Jesus
· THE RULE OF BLESSING WAS THE GOOD PLEASURE OF HIS
WILl. (v. 5.) Now, when we get up in spirit to the heavenly places, we
have no difficulty in seeing the truth and propriety of this arrangement. For
the world above is one whose inhabitants have all learned to acquiesce in
the good pleasure of the Father’s will. (v. 11’ Philippians 2:13) They know
that the pleasure of His will can be nothing else than good; they are
content to abide by it. They assure themselves of everlasting blessedness
in accepting of it as their rule and law. And we have only to get to their
standpoint and to perceive how good God is, to acquiesce at once in the
good pleasure of His will God is so good that be could not will anything
but what is good. If he has to will vengeance against any of His creatures,
it is because vengeance is better than impunity (exemption from punishment
or freedom from the injurious consequences of an action); it is better that
He should strike home than that He should be still. Of course, it is hard for
our natural hearts which are so opposed to God to acquiesce off-hand in such
an arrangement. We think it hard to have to depend absolutely upon the good
pleasure of God’s will; but we have only to climb up a little by the Spirit’s
help and see how good He is, and then shall we gladly and gratefully adore
His pleasure as always good.
· THE FATHER PLANNED THE BLESSING OF HIS ADOPTED
CHILDREN BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD. (v. 4)
Starting from the sovereignty of the good God, as the rule of all blessing,
we have next to notice that the blessing of His adopted children was
deliberately planned from all eternity — “before the foundation of the
world.” The foresight of a father when carried into every detail of the
children’s needs glorifies him in our estimation. We would not honor an
earthly father who left anything to haphazard, which he could have
foreseen. Hence we conceive of the infinite Father as leaving nothing to
chance, but arranging all down to the minutest details. (“If ye then, being
evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more
shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask
Him.” - Matthew 11:7) He did not leave a loose thread in the whole
arrangement. Why should He, if He is the Omniscient and Almighty God?
What is contended for in predestination, therefore, is that the Almighty
Father left nothing to chance, but provided for everything in His plan.
How this is compatible with human freedom is beyond our feeble
comprehension; but that it is compatible we do most firmly believe.
There are many problems of advanced mathematics which as rusty
mathematicians we cannot now see how to solve, and there are many
problems of science which are to the most splendid scientists still unsolved;
but we should be foolish in the extreme to pronounce either insoluble. So is
it with the Divine predestination and the freedom of the creature. There is a
solution somewhere, but it is beyond our terrestrial calculus. We believe in
both as Facts, and we leave the future to bring the reconciliation. And in
the heavenly places to which the Spirit helps us to soar, we rejoice in the
thought of that Divine plan which left nothing out, but embraced
· THE ELECTION OF INDIVIDUALS WAS TO HOLINESS AND
BLAMELESSNESS OF CHARACTER BEFORE HIM IN LOVE. (v. 4.)
Holiness and perfection are the ends aimed at in God’s electing love. It
is because this is lost sight of that we have so much confusion on this
subject. God could not elect any soul to a salvation without holiness; the
idea has no meaning in the Divine mind. Men may desire to separate
salvation from holiness, to carry their sins with them into the heavenly
world; but such desires are vain, and under God’s government they can
have no realization. The election is unto holiness. So long as a soul loves
sin and hates holiness, he has no warrant to affirm any election. He may
subsequently turn from sin to God, and thus receive the evidence within
him; but a soul that loves sin and hates holiness has no business in dabbling
with this doctrine of election. God saves no man except in the process He
makes him holy. Hence we must remember “they were not chosen because
they were viewed as holy, and therefore deserving to be distinguished as
God’s favorites, on account of their obedience or personal purity, but that
they should be holy.” (Leviticus 17:44-45; I Peter 1:16)
· AND THESE INDIVIDUALS FIND THEMSELVES ADOPTED
INTO THE DIVINE FAMILY AND ACCEPTED IN CHRIST THE
BELOVED. (vs. 5-6.) We have seen that the infinite Father is the
Source of all blessing. But that Father has one only Son, the only begotten,
in His Divine family. The eternal Father had an eternal Son, and they held
fellowship from all eternity through the eternal Spirit. This Son was and is
the well-beloved. He always did the things which pleased the Father
(John 8:29). But, blessed be His Name, He was content to have “joint-heirs”
with Himself in His inheritance (Romans 8:17). Jesus showed no
jealousy about enlarging the family circle and about an abundance of
brethren. Hence the Father set about adopting children, bringing into the
charmed circle those who had no claim to the position or to its rewards.
But every adopted child is made to feel that he is accepted of the Father for
the elder Brother’s sake. Jesus as the Firstborn in the mighty family has so
endeared Himself to the Father that for His sake the Father accepts the
persons of the prodigals who are adopted into His family. There is no
reason in us for our adoption — there can never be; IT IS OWING
SIMPLY AND ENTIRELY TO JESUS CHRIST that we are accepted
and adopted. Hence there is in the plan, as so far brought before us, no
ground for boasting. Election and adoption alike rest on the good pleasure
of God’s will. They are sovereign acts. They have their root in sovereignty;
and as we rise into the heavenlyplaces, we see that this is exactly as it
The Redemptive Predestination of God
A Reason for Man’s Exultant Gratitude
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed
us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 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: having predestinated us unto
the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good
pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath
made us accepted in the Beloved.” The leading subject of these words is
the redemptive predestination of God a reason for man’s exultant
gratitude. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” etc.
We say redemptive predestination, for there is predestination in every
department of Divine operation; from the most microscopic objects to the
massive systems of immensity. Before we go on to notice the reasons
suggested in the passage why man should adore the Eternal for His
redemptive predestination, it may be well, in order to remove much of
erroneous sentiment and terrible feeling that exist in the minds of some
men in relation to this great subject, to state the following things.
1. The predestination of God contemplates good, and good only.
eternally antagonistic to love to plan for misery.
plan in every part of nature, from the minutest to the largest objects. Yet it
has never discovered, as Archbishop Paley has well said, any contrivance
for suffering. Not a single “vessel” has been discovered that has been
“made for dishonor.”
will concerning man, and it tells us that His will is that we shall all be saved.
happiness. If they did not, moral sense would be an impossibility.
2. The predestination of God never interferes with the free agency of
moral beings. It is true that no philosophy has yet harmonized, to the
satisfaction of the human understanding, the doctrine of free agency with
the doctrine of eternal predestination. This is the great intellectual puzzle
of the ages. But that the one interferes not with the other in the slightest
degree is attested:
one — the crucifixion of Christ. That stupendous evil was predetermined.
Yet were not his crucifiers free? “Him being delivered by the determinate
counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands
have crucified and slain.” (Acts 2:23)
beings — appeals to their choice, and warns them of a judgment, when
every one “must give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12)
logic. It is the ultimate argument. Beyond its decisions there is no appeal.
3. The predestination of God is not exclusively confined to human
redemptions. This we have already intimated. It does not follow, because
Paul refers God’s predestinating agency in man’s salvation to an eternal
plan, that he would not have referred it in any other department to an
eternal plan. It is a characteristic of a pious man that he traces all that is
good to God; and of a truly intelligent man, he would trace everything to
THE DIVINE PLAN! Had Paul been writing on botany, he would have traced
every blade and flower and plant that grew to the predestination of God.
Had he been writing on anatomy, he would have traced every organ, limb,
joint, vein, nerve, and sinew to the predestination of God. But he was
writing of man’s salvation, and it was only to his purpose to refer to
predestination in connection with that. Predestination is not a dream of the
schoolman, or a dogma of Calvin, but an eternal law of the universe.
4. The predestination of God is revealed in Scripture according to forms
of human thought. As no finite being can comprehend the Infinite, no finite
mind can give a representation of His acts that is absolutely correct. What,
for example, in the predestination of God, is there answering to our ideas
of that act? The ideas of commencement, observation, resolve, enter into
our conceptions of it. But these are foreign to the subject. What is there,
too, in God’s choice, answering to our ideas of choice? The ideas of
beginning, comparison, rejection, acceptance, enter into our conception of
choice; but in God’s choice there was no beginning, no comparison, etc.
What conception can we have of the processes and the workings of a mind
that knows no succession, to whom all the future is as the past, who has
but ONE ETERNAL THOUGHT? Alas! that men should be so impious as to
dogmatize upon a subject like this! “Who by searching can find out God?”
(Job 11:7) We now pass on to the question — Why should we exultingly adore
the Eternal on account of His redemptive predestination? Paul suggests three
reasons in the text.
· HAPPINESS IS ITS EXCLUSIVE AIM. What are the “spiritual
blessings in heavenly places,” which the apostle in the text traces to it?
Ø Moral excellence. “That we should be holy and without blame.” The
two words represent spiritual excellence.
o Negatively. “Without blame.” Perfectly free from all that is
wrong in thought, feeling, and practice. Appearing before God
“without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.” (ch. 5:27)
o Positively. “Holy.” Consecrated to the will and service of God!
Ø Spiritual elevation. “Heavenly places.” A truly Christian man is now in
heavenly regions. Though on the earth, he is not of the earth, he is of
heaven. His fellowships, ideas, services, aspirations, are heavenly. He is
come to an “innumerable company of angels.” (Hebrews 12:22) “Our
citizenship is in heaven,” (Philippians 3:20).
Ø Divine sonship. “The adoption of children.” All men are the offspring of
God, but none are His true children but those who have the true filial
spirit. To possess this involves man’s highest blessedness. THIS IS
THE WORK OF CHRIST! “As many as received Him to them gave
He power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12) — the true sons —
“heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:17) These are
some of the “spiritual blessings”which flow to man through God’s
redemptive predestination. Paul does not refer to a single
evil or woe as coming to man from that source. Good, and good only,
he saw flowing from that fountain. The inhuman, the blasphemous
dogma of reprobation never entered his mind in connection with this
grand subject. What reason for exultant thankfulness is here! Well
may we exclaim, “Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
· JESUS CHRIST IS ITS MEDIUM. Predestination, which in nature
makes the sun the medium of lighting, quickening, and beautifying the
earth, in redemption makes Christ the Medium of conveying all those
spiritual blessings which constitute the happiness and dignity of man. The
“heavenly places” to which we are raised are “in Christ Jesus.” The
adoption of children is “through Jesus Christ.” All the Divine grace —
favor — bestowed on man is through “Christ Jesus, the Beloved.” What a
Medium is this! This is the great gift of predestination. GOD’S ONLY
BEGOTTEN, WELL-LOVED SON! “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) What reason for exultant thankfulness is here!
Well may Paul exclaim, “Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!”
· ETERNAL LOVE IS ITS SPRING. “In love, having predestinated us
unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ.”
Ø This love existed before the objects of it came into actual being.
Millions of ages before mankind came into existence, before the
“foundation of the world,” HE LOVED THEM! His love created them,
organized them for happiness as creatures, and provided for their
spiritual recovery as sinners. The uncreated, those that are to be, are
as real to God as the created that are.
Ø This love is the happiness of His own nature. Its manifestations are the
“good pleasure” of His own will. The good pleasure of malevolence is
misery; the good pleasure of love is happiness. Are not the reasons
suggested by Paul for gratefully exulting in God’s redemptive
The more ignorant men are, the more they profess to have fathomed
the meaning of these terms, as representing the mental acts of the
Eternal; and the more flippant they are in their use. But what do they
stand for when applied to God? Volition — will, nothing more.
“God is love” (I John 4:8) and His will must be happiness. He is
“of one mind” (Job 23:13), and His will must be unalterable.
“Love is the root of creation, God’s essence; worlds without number
lie in his bosom like children;* He made them for this purpose only,
Only to love and to be loved again; He breathed forth His Spirit
into the slumbering dust, and upright standing, it laid its
Hand on its heart, and felt it was warmed with a flame out of heaven.”
*(See Fantasitic Trip on the Internet – CY – 2019)
God’s Idea of Humanity (vs. 4-6)
We commonly regard our lives from a human standpoint, which we cannot
well leave even in thought. But, if it were possible, it would be most
interesting to see how God looks upon them. Now, it is one of the objects
of REVELATION to help us to do this — to lead us to see ourselves as God
sees us. Next to the vision of God Himself, such a picture of humanity as it
appears in the eyes of God is of the greatest importance. The manifestation
of our present condition in the searching light of God turns out to be a
shameful exhibition of sin and failure. But the declaration of God’s idea of
our lives, of what He wishes and purposes for us, and of His design in
fashioning us, is truly sublime, and should fill us with genuine “self-reverence.”
In the verses before us, by a magnificent feat of inspired revelation, Paul describes
this idea and the method by which God is working it out.
· THE ORIGIN OF THE IDEA. It was conceived “before the foundation
of the world.” The architect’s design precedes the builder’s structure. God
had His plan of mankind before a man was created.
Ø Seeing that GOD IS INFINITE that plan must extend to every detail
of the vocation of every individual soul.
Ø Seeing that God is independent of time, He must know from the first all
future issues, and. what course will be taken by the free-will of each man.
Ø Seeing that all things are united by successive waves of influence, what
God does from the foundation of the world onwards must all have its
bearings on the latest development of mankind, and must therefore be
determined in some measure with respect to God’s idea of humanity.
· THE OBJECTS OF THE IDEA.
Ø In our character. God’s will regarding us is our sanctification. He
foreordains us to be pure and free from all defilement and imperfection.
Thus we learn that the moral and spiritual state of a soul is far more
important in the eyes of God than any intellectual gifts, or any amount
of comfort and happiness.
Ø In our condition. God wishes us to be His sons. The high privilege of
Christ He desires to bestow upon Christ’s brethren. To be thus nearly
related to God is to have the highest possible destiny.
Ø In relation to God Himself. The praise of His glory is thus attained. If
God seeks His own glory, it is because this is the glory of goodness
seen in the welfare of His creatures.
· THE MOTIVES OF THE IDEA.
Ø In God’s sovereign freedom. He purposes “according to the good
pleasure of His will.” Like the potter with his clay, God has a right to
choose His own idea of humanity.
Ø In God’s great love. God’s will is always holy and always gracious. If,
therefore, anything depends solely on His will, it is sure to be done in the
best possible way, and in the way that brings most good to His creatures.
Instead of fearing God’s free choice, we ought to rejoice in it, seeing
that it is always determined by love. It is love that leads God to design
for mankind so glorious a destiny as was conceived before the
foundation of the world.
· THE METHOD OF REALIZING THE IDEA.
Ø Through grace “freely bestowed on us.” God does not call us to a high
vocation without giving us the means whereby to fulfill it. As He first
ordained the future destiny, He alone can now give us power to
Ø Through Christ. CHRIST IS THE GREATEST GIFT OF GOD’S
GRACE! By our faith in Christ we receive God’s grace. Christ, as
the Beloved of God, brings us into the blessings of God’s love.
7 “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins,
according to the riches of His grace;” 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 (τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν - taen 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.”
Αφεσιν – aphesin - 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
Redemption (v. 7)
“In whom we have the redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness
of our sins.”
· What men need is more than instruction, education, or an elevating
influence. They are in sin — condemned, enslaved, and disordered; in the
fetters of a strong man armed, and a stronger is needed to disarm him and
spoil his house. In a word, they need redemption from sin.
· What the gospel specially announces is such a redemption. CHRIST CAME,
not merely to enlighten, or elevate, or improve, but TO REDEEM! He came
to grapple with sin in all its bearings and results.
· This redemption was consummated by THE SHEDDING OF CHRIST’S
BLOOD! Jesus died as a sacrifice or propitiation for sin. He came by water
and by blood, not by water only. His blood “cleanseth us from all sin;”
His Spirit renews the soul. Calvin says the blood figured atonement, the
water ablution. The side of Christ, he says, was the fountain of our sacraments.
· Forgiveness of sins is a fundamental element of THIS REDEMPTION! The
gospel of Christ is a gospel of forgiveness. Sin is blotted out freely through
Christ’s merit. We need nothing short of forgiveness, and should not rest
till we have it.
All this is
to be enjoyed in
REDEMPTION! Thus union to Christ is the turning-point of all blessing.
Redemption through Blood (v. 7)
“Redemption” is a large and exclusive term, implying deliverance from sin,
Satan, and death. It includes, not the mere remission of sins, which is,
however, the primary element in it; nor the mere adoption, though that is
the consequence of it — for “we are redeemed that we may receive the
adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4), but the completed sanctification of
our souls and the consummated redemption of our bodies. The price of
redemption is the blood of Him who is here described as “the Beloved.”
EFFECTED BY THE INCARNATION, BUT BY THE DEATH OF
CHRIST. More was needed for redemption than the mere birth of the
Redeemer, else He need not have died. Therefore we preach, not the person
of Christ, nor the child born, but Christ crucified, “the wisdom of God, and
the power of God.” (I Corinthians 1:24) Some lay stress upon His life rather
than upon His death. But the one righteousness on the ground of which we
are justified, consists at once of the obedience of His life and of the
sufferings of His death. Our Savior was our Substitute both in life and in death.
Yet Scripture assigns the greater prominence to the death. We are “bought with
a price;” (ibid. ch. 6:20)“We are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ.”
(I Peter 1:19) Not only is redemption set forth objectively in Christ’s person,
because He is of God made unto us “redemption” (I Corinthians 1:30), but
the ransom price is definitively described as “His blood” ("….by Himself"
- Hebrews 1:3 - CY - 2019), considered as the reality of the ancient sacrifices
and as procuring the full salvation which they only figured forth.
Some divines say the work of redemption is wholly subjective, its sole aim
being the moral transformation of the sinner, or the rooting of sin out of
the soul. They say, indeed, that no such thing as remission of sin is
possible, except through the previous extirpation of sin itself. But,
according to Scripture, REDEMPTION includes everything necessary to
SALVATION, both the change of condition and the change of character —
both justification and sanctification. And both these come to us IN VIRTUE
OF CHRIST’S BLOOD! If nothing was required for salvation but the exercise
of spiritual power upon us, no person need have come from the bosom of the
Godhead, and there need have been no crucifixion. The double aspect of
Christ’s death is presented in such passages as these: “He bare our sins in
His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto
righteousness” (I Peter 2:24); “He gave Himself for us, that He might
redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people,
zealous of good works”