The Foreordination of the Church.
SUMMARY.--The Salutation. Our Election and Adoption by Grace. This the Source of Salvation. The Mystery Made Known. The Inheritance. Prayer that Wisdom and Knowledge Be Given to the Saints.
1, 2. Paul, an apostle. It was always the custom anciently to place the name of the writer at the beginning rather than at the end as with us. By the will of God. Emphasis is placed in most of Paul's epistles upon the fact that he was not an apostle by the appointment of man, but by the will of God. To the saints at Ephesus. All Christians were called saints in the early church. See the salutations of other Epistles. And to the faithful. The same as the saints. There is no article in the Greek before "faithful." A literal translation is "To the saints dwelling in Ephesus and faithful in Christ Jesus." 2. Grace. For note on the salutation, see Rom. 1:7.
3-6. Blessed be the God. The word rendered "blessed" is one from which our word eulogize is derived. It means, therefore, primarily, to praise. "Praised be the God," etc., gives the idea. Who hath blessed us. The blessed is here from the same root. The word means, as above, "to praise," or to "speak" good things of one; then to "speak" good things to, or bestow blessings, as a secondary meaning. This is the meaning here. With all spiritual blessings. All came from God, and he has withheld none from those in Christ. In the heavenly. In the kingdom of heaven. 4. According as. "Even as," in Revision. Chosen us in him before the foundation of the world. This does not affirm that God chose some individuals and rejected others, but that before the world was, before there was Jew or Gentile, God chose to have a people for himself, the whole church of Christ, a covenant people confined to no one earthly race. Holy and without blame. God chose them that they might be holy. Holiness is the proof that a church is a chosen church. 5. Having predestinated us. Foreordained that we, the church of Jesus Christ, should be adopted as his children. The whole line of argument is general instead of particular. God foreordained a church which should be composed of those adopted as his children. According to the pleasure of his will. The act of predestination was due simply to God's sovereign will. His will was the cause. 6. To the praise of the glory of his grace. To the end that his grace in adopting us as children may redound to his praise and glory. In the beloved. In Christ. See Matt. 3:17; Col. 1:13.
7-12. In whom we have redemption through his blood. (1) We are in bondage to sin; (2) Christ redeems us; (3) the price paid is his blood. Compare Matt. 20:28; 26:28; Acts 20:28; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 9:22; 1 Pet. 1:19. Those redeemed are forgiven. 8. Which he made to abound. The grace of God (see verse 7). It abounded in all wisdom and prudence. These attributes, ascribed to God, are fully shown in his grace and mercy. 9. Having made known unto us. To all who receive the adoption of Christ. The mystery of his will. The word "mystery" is used in the sense of something beyond human comprehension until revealed. This "mystery of his will" is revealed and is declared in the next verse. According to his good pleasure. See verse 5. 10. He now states the mystery which God had revealed. In the dispensation of the fulness of times. In the last dispensation which came in the fulness of time; when the times were full, or ripe. Fulness of time is often applied to the period of Christ's coming. See Gal. 4:4; Heb. 1:2; Heb. 9:10; 1 Peter 1:20. That he might gather together in one all things in Christ. That the scattered families and tribes of men, both Jews and Gentiles, should all be gathered and united under one head, Christ. Nay, not only men, but angels, all things in heaven and earth, all should be united under Christ as head, so that he should be "all and in all" See Rev. 5:13. Compare Matt. 28:18, and many other passages which are parallel in thought. 11. In whom we were made a heritage. See the Revision. We are in Christ made the heritage of God, or God's part. Having been predestinated. According to his will he predestinated us, the church, to the adoption of sons, and to be his heritage. 12. We should be to the praise of his glory. This is the final result of our predestination and adoption. We who first trusted in Christ. Jewish believers like Paul who had the Christian hope before (see Revision) the Gentiles.
13, 14. In whom ye also trusted. The "we" of verse 12 refers to Jewish believers; the "ye," to Gentile believers, like most of the Ephesians, who also trusted, after that they heard, etc. They not only hoped, but believed. That is, they became believers, by trusting obedience; then they were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise. After they were converted, the Holy Spirit was bestowed upon them. It was a "promise" (Acts 1:4). The seal was attached to a letter or legal document to authenticate it to the world. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of adoption, was God's authentication to the world that the converts to Christ were accepted as his children. The presence of the new Spirit was shown by a new life exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). 14. Which is the earnest of our inheritance. The "earnest" money was a small part of the purchase money given in hand to bind the bargain. Paul says that the Holy Spirit given to God's children is such earnest of the inheritance that he will bestow, a small part given now as a proof to his adopted children. Until the redemption, etc. Rather, "Unto." This "earnest" given is looking unto the final and complete redemption from the grave of the purchased possession, the children of God bought with Christ's blood.
15, 16. After I heard of your faith. This verse has been thought to show that Paul was not personally acquainted with those to whom he wrote, and hence that this letter could not be addressed to the Ephesians; but he used similar language of Philemon, one of his own converts. See Philemon 5. The language is natural if Paul left Ephesus in the spring of A. D. 57, and wrote this letter about the close of A. D. 62 (Conybeare and Howson), more than five years after. During this period he could only know of the faith and love of the Ephesians by what he heard. 16. Cease not to give thanks. Because he heard so favorable a report.
17-19. That. This introduces the things for which he prayed God in their behalf. The Father of glory. The source of all spiritual glory. Give unto you the Spirit of wisdom. A gift of the Spirit. See notes on 1 Cor. 12:8. Divine wisdom works wisdom in believers. And revelation. The Spirit that reveals a knowledge of God and spiritual mysteries. This Spirit would enable them to better comprehend the "mystery" of God, the divine plans for human redemption in a better knowledge of him. 18. The eyes of your understanding being enlightened. "Heart," in the Revision. The moving of the Spirit gives light. See Gen. 1:2. This would follow if they were given "the Spirit of wisdom," etc. That ye may know. Have a fuller comprehension. The hope of his calling. The hope of eternal life to which God had called them. The riches, etc. See Col. 1:27. The heavenly inheritance given in the saints, rich beyond our conception. See Acts 20:32; 26:18. 19. The exceeding greatness of his power. He prays that they may have greater knowledge of three things: (1) Of eternal life (the hope); (2) of the glorious inheritance, and (3) of God's mighty power towards believers. This mighty power works to raise them from sin, as it worked to raise Christ from the dead. However the power works, it is the same power that raised Jesus.
20-23. Which he wrought in Christ. God's power wrought in Christ in the tomb so that he came forth living. At his own right hand. The Scriptures represent Christ at God's right hand. See Mark 16:19; Heb. 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; Col. 3:1. His seat there indicates his glory, and also that the work of redemption has been wrought. 21. Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion. Above all the angelic hierarchy. See Rom. 8:38; 1 Peter 3:22; also Eph. 3:10. The same terms are applied to evil spirits in 6:12. Christ is above all angels, good or evil. Above every name. Every person, office and dignity, whether in this present state, or in that to come. 22. And hath put all things under his feet. All power was given into his hands when he was raised from the dead (Matt. 28:18). He is the rightful ruler of all. And gave him to be the head, etc. He was, when raised from the dead (verse 20), exalted to be the ruler of all things and made the Head of the church; not merely its ruler, but the Head of the Body, which derives its life from the Head. Compare 1 Cor. 10:17; 12:27. Note that this exaltation is after the cross and the resurrection, definitely showing that Christ's church was not organized until after our Lord's suffering. 23. Which is his body. His spiritual body, living by union with the Head, pervaded by the life of Christ. The fulness of him. The church is a manifestation of the fulness of Christ, the body filled by his life, who filleth all in all. Filleth all things with his majesty and power. The object of the last four verses is to describe Christ's glories. These are: (1) His resurrection; (2) His Exaltation to God's Right Hand; (3) His Supreme Dominion; (4) His Headship to the Church, his Body, filled with His Fulness. These glories all follow his stooping unto the death of the cross. He abased himself that he might be exalted. "For the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."