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Riches of grace displayed.
A. D. 63.
gether, and made us sit together in heavenly
Their past sinful state.
AND you hath God made alive, who were 2 dead in trespasses and sins; In which ye formerly walked, according to the course of this world, according to the powerful prince of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in 3 the sons of disobedience: Among whom even we all in time past lived, in the desires of our flesh, fulfilling the will of the flesh and of our minds; and were by nature the children 4 of wrath, even as others: But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great. love wherewith 5 he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath made us alive together with Christ, (by 6 grace ye are saved ;) And raised us up to
in his mind, made in some degree holy, and seeking the full perfection he had wrought in them, and to mingle his petitions with theirs for an of holiness, that can be sure of his election of God.
increase of every spiritual blessing. How desirable it is, to receive the spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of Christ, that the eyes of our minds may be enlightened, to see the surpassing excellence of the object of our hope, the glorious riches of our everlasting inheritance. And what a pledge have we of our interest in that inheritance, in the faith wrought in us by the same power which raised Christ from the dead, and exalted him to the throne of the universe; this same power shall keep every believer, and raise and exalt him to glory and happiness as a member of Christ; for every member shall share in the glory and happiness of him as the head.
3. Blessed as these Ephesian believers were in Christ, we learn that they had not yet attained the end of their christian calling, nor were afready perfect. They were indeed united to Christ, through faith and trust in him, in whom things in heaven and earth are gathered together; but still their knowledge, faith, hope, joy, and holiness, were imperfect. Their faith in Christ, was a real active principle; and their love to the saints abounded in some good degree; so that they were celebrated for these christian graces among the churches; and the hearing of this excited the apostle both to give thanks to God for what
CHAP. II. 1. God made alive. Hallet, Dr. Chandler, and others would connect this verse with the close of the first chapter. "Filleth all with all. Even you who were dead, &c." The words which begin this verse are so evidently resumed in the fifth, that I agree with most critics in thinking both governed by the same verb.--Dead in trespasses, &c. Wholly given up to them, and strangers to the principle and operation of spiritual life.
2. Course of this world. The common practices and vices of meu.————— Powerful prince, &c. Mede has observed, that it was an opinion of the Jews that the air was inhabited by evil spirits; and the apostle alluding to this opinion observes, that their conduct was such as the prince of these evil spirits might be supposed to approve, as the Spirit that now worketh, &c. powerfully operating on their depravity, and tempting them to all kinds of vice.—Sons of disobedience. A Hebraism for disobedient.
Wherefore remember, that in time past 11 ye were Gentiles in the flesh, (called the Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands ;) That at that time ye were without Christ, 12 being aliens from the community of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise,
3. Among whom even, &c. We Christians, whether sprung from Jews or Gentiles; even we lived in the manner they now do, gratifying the desires of the flesh, &c, The Jews, though they enjoyed divine revelation, were as carnal and sensual as the Gentiles.—Were by nature. By our fallen state, and evil dispositions and habits, we "were children of wrath," deserving of wrath, and exposed to it, even as all such sinners now are.
4-7. Rich in mercy, &c. Naturally and eternally so; and expressing it towards us by his amazing love, in making us spiritually alive with Christ, and raising us and causing us to sit with him on high, that in all ages he may manifest his rich and free grace. In these verses our Lord is considered as the head of his body, the church; and every believer as a member, may reVOL. III. PART XXIII. X x
gard his resurrection, ascension, and glory, as a pledge and security, that he himself shall, in like manner, be raised, exalted, and glorified.
8. This not of yourselves. The salvation which you now in a sense enjoy, and which will be finally completed is, in its origin, means and end, all of grace; and your personal interest in it is by faith; and this faith itself is not the effect of your own reason and attention, but the gift of God, through his influence on the heart, in connexion with the gospel. That Toro may refer to moris, faith, see Ch. vi. 18. Phil. i. 28. Gal. iii. 17; iv. 12. Some would refer it to salvation, cwrngia, which contains the same anomaly. Griesbach points, (This not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not from work.) I see no reason to change the punctuation.
9, 10. Not by works, &c. Were it so, a man might glory; but as it is by grace, all occasion of glorying is removed. The change wrought in us is not from ourselves. For we are his workmanship, &c.-For which God hath, &c. Fitted and disposed us, as well as appointed us, by effecting so remarkable a change in our views, tempers, and hearts, through the mediation of Christ, and the preaching of the gospel.
11, 12. Remember, c. Remember the condition you were in as heathens and sinners, not only uncircumcised, but without any knowledge of Christ, and even destitute of all the privileges belonging to the Israelites"the covenants of promise," the patriarchal and Mosaic, which promised the Messiah—“baving no hope," either of a resurrection, or of a future life-and without the knowledge of the only living and true God.
13-18. Were afar off, &c. From God and his service.
Are made nigh, 345
Believers united in Christ.
having no hope, and without God in the But now in Christ Jesus ye, who formerly were afar off, are made nigh by the 14 blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 (Having abolished in his flesh the cause of enmity, the law of commandments consisting in ordinances, to form in himself the two into 16 one new man, thus making peace; And to
reconcile both to God in one body by the 17 cross, having slain the enmity thereby :) And hath come and proclaimed the glad tidings of peace to you who were afar off, and to those 18 that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER II. 1. We have need of being often reminded of our state and condition as fallen, depraved sinners. In what misery and crimes is human nature plunged! Not Gentiles only, but men born where the light of truth shines with the brightest rays, give sufficient evidence that they are dead in sins and trespasses, wholly given up to the practice of them, and without desire or relish for what is good, holy, and spiritual. They walk according to the course of this world, of the men of it, and pursue the same vanities and follies. These are the sons of disobedience, and subjects of the powerful prince of the air; and the works of their ruler they will do, in fulfilling the desires of the flesh and the mind. They are not restrained from any vice or sinful indulgence, from regard to God or duty; but, as far as possible, they gratify every appetite, living in the most debasing sensuality. This shows our awful depravity, and justifies the inference, "that by nature all are children of wrath." What matter have we for deep humiliation and debasement before God. How are we become the degenerate plants of a strange vine !
2. We learn what a glorious change divine grace makes in the heart and life. By this divine life is imparted to the soul; and its existence is ascertained by the feelings of the heart, and the operations of the mind and conscience. Those who are made alive, behold themselves as ready to perish and as deserving the wrath to come; and both their judgment and conscience approve the just, but tremendous sentence of the law which they have violated. Alarmed and confounded, the gospel exhibits the only ground of hope to them; and they are enabled
&c. The blood of Christ having expiated your sins, and the gospel having called you to be the people of God, as well as believing Jews.He is our peuce. The cause of peace and union, by having abolished the Mosaic rites, which he mentions in allusion to the wall in the temple, which no Gentile was allowed to pass.- -To form in himself, &c. In their union to him, the two, the Jew and the Gentile, into one new man, as his members, united in the closest bonds of love and concord, and to effect this union to each other and to God, he suffered on the cross, by which he slew the enmity which had subsisted between them.Hath come, &c. By his ministers, &c. both to you, Gen. tiles, and to the Jews; and all believers, of whatever nation they may be,
They are fellow-citizens. Now therefore ye are no more strangers 19 and sojourners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; Hav- 20 ing been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone; By which the 21 whole building, being fitly framed together, groweth to a holy temple through the Lord: By which ye also are builded together, for a 22 habitation of God through the Spirit.
A. D. 63. The mystery of calling the Gentiles revealed to Paul; on him
was conferred the office of preaching the gospel to them ; his prayer, &c.
For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus 1 Christ on account of you Gentiles, (Since ye 2
to believe that God is rich in mercy, and that his love is great, infinitely great, as manifest in the gift of his Son, and in his sufferings and death for the salvation of the chief of sinners. Cleaving to this adorable Saviour, they find pardon and peace, and rise to the hope of a happy resurrection and of everlasting life, Thus as the workmanship of God, are they formed unto good works; and possessed of new principles and of a new spirit, they walk, not any longer according to the course of this world, but according to the will of God, acknowledging that it is by grace that they are saved.
3. We are taught that the blessed design of the gospel-dispensation is to abolish the distinction between Jew and Gentile, and unite both in one holy and happy community. The partition-wall is broken down by the cross; the carnal ordinances are done away, and peace is secured. Those who had been afar off are brought nigh; and they who had no hope, and were without God in the world, are, by the gospel, and by faith in Christ, fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God. We Gentiles are built by faith upon the foundation of apostles and prophets; and let us maintain a proper regard to their writings, which are so well calculated to promote our edification. But above all let us fix our regards upon Christ, the chief corner-stone; as it is on him we must rest all our hopes. And it is only in him, that individuals and the whole church groweth up to a holy temple. Let us ever consider ourselves as designed for this use, for a habitation of God through the. Spirit; and be deeply and constantly concerned to cultivate and maintain that purity which becomes this relation.
have access through him, to God as their father, and are assisted in their approaches by the Spirit.
19-22. No more strangers, &c. No more what you were in your sins and idolatry, verse 13, but are now fellow-citizeus with other saints, and of the household or family of God.- -Having been built, &c. Apostles and prophets of the christian church, (Ch. iii. 5.; iv. 11,) are called the foundation, because on their miracles and predictions, and explanations of the Jewish prophets, believers are built. Chief corner-stone. See note, Ps. cxviii. 22.— By which, c. By which corner-stone, the whole building, the edifice of the church, formed of various materials, but fitly framed, groweth into a holy
The mystery of calling
have heard of the dispensation of the grace 3 of God which is given me towards you: How he made known to me by revelation, the mystery; as I have written before in few 4 words; By which, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in this mystery of 5 Christ, Which in other generations was not made known unto the sons of men, as it hath now been revealed to his holy apostles and 6 prophets, by the Spirit; namely, That the namely, That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and joint-partakers of his promise 7 in Christ, by the gospel: Of which I was made a minister, according to the gracious gift of God bestowed on me by the effectual 8 working of his power: On me, who am less than the least of all saints, hath this grace been bestowed, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9 And should make manifest to all what is the 'dispensation" of the mystery, which, from the beginning of the world, was hidden in God, 10 who created all things by Jesus Christ: That
temple through the Lord, through his powerful and effectual operation; and ye believers at Ephesus are built on the same foundation, for an habitation of God, &c. dwelling by his Spirit in you.
CHAP. III. 1. For this cause. For maintaining and preaching that beHieving Gentiles are no more foreigners, but admitted to all the spiritual privileges of the gospel, I am a prisoner of or belonging to Christ, on account of you Gentiles, Acts xxi. 28.; and for this cause, I bow my knees, verse 14.
3. By revelation. This was peculiarly revealed to Paul, because he was the chief instrument appointed to accomplish God's design. Written before, &c. He refers to what he had said, Ch. i. 4—10.; ii. 13–21.
5. Which was not, &c. It was a predicted event, yet still imperfectly known, until the gospel was actually preached among the Gentiles.
6. Of his promise in Christ. Of the promise made to Abraham, which was to be fulfilled in Christ, he being the seed in whom all nations were to be blessed; and he having come, the Gentiles are fellow-heirs with the Jews, of all the blessings of his kingdom, and members of his body the church.
7. Made a minister, &c. By the immediate call and authority of Christ. -Gracious gift of God. The apostolic office, bestowed on me as an instance of free grace, and manifest by the effectual working of his power by me, enabling me to preach and work miracles, &c.
8. Less than the least, &c. He uses this expressive and humble language, for the reason he has stated, I Cor. xv. 9, and 1 Tim. i. 10-Unsearchable riches, &c. His unsearchable perfections and merits, whereby he is able to save the chief of sinners, and to bestow on them the greatest spiritual blessings, which are the only true and durable riches to an immortal mind.
9-12. Dispensation of, &c. What is the nature of the gospel, which reveals and makes manifest the mystery of calling the Gentiles, which, in a great measure, had been hidden in the purpose of God; that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church-that wisdom which exerts and displays itself in such a variety of ways, and is especially x x 3
the Gentiles revealed.
the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known made known through the church, to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places; According to the eternal purpose 11 which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord; Through whom we have freedom of speech 12 and access with confidence by faith in him. Wherefore I intreat that ye faint not at my 13 afflictions for you, which are your glory :) I 14 say, for this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom 15 the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to his 16 glorious riches, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ 17 may dwell in your hearts by faith; so that, being rooted and grounded in love, Ye, with 18 all the saints, may be able to comprehend what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, 19 which indeed surpasseth knowledge, so that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do very abun- 20
9. ▾ Mss. Others, fellowship.
18, 19. May be able, &c. As the apostle had compared the Ephesians to a temple, or to a part of one, in which Christ dwelt by faith, some think that "the breadth, and length, and depth, and height," refer to the dimensions of this temple, as comprising men of all ages, nations, and people. Though this be admitted, I cannot but conclude, that the subject in his thoughts vas the love of Carist, that love, whose dimensions are so vast as to surpass all human knowledge; that love, which in the depth of its origin, in the breadth of its comprehension, the length of its duration and happy effects, and the 347
I THEREFORE, a prisoner on account of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the calling with which ye have been called;
REFLECTIONS UPON CHAPTER III. 1. What reason have we to bless God for calling by his grace, and revealing to Paul, the counsels of his own holy will, respecting us Gentiles. God had suffered the Gentiles for ages to walk after their own perverse inclinations; and had left them to the guidance of their own natural reason and conscience, in what respected morals, worship and religion; and they had given sufficient proof that man by his own unaided powers, is so far from finding out God, that he gradually loses all just conceptions of him, and worships and serves the creature rather than the creator. By the gospel he has mercifully visited us, and granted repentance unto life; and Paul was chosen and qualified to be the chief instrument of his kindness and grace towards us in Christ Jesus. His understanding in this mystery, his clear discovery of it in his ministry and writings, his zeal in propagating and maintaining it, ought to excite our warmest gratitude to God. He even gloried in afflictions and sufferings in this cause; and in what humble language does he speak of himself as an apostle! Not content with a common word he makes one, to express the lowly feelings of his own heart. "On me who am less than the least of all saints is this grace bestowed, that I should, &c." May every saint imbibe the same spirit; and especially every minister, and most assuredly would the gospel then prosper, and its effects be apparent in the sobriety, purity, and spirituality of those who hear it.
2. We learn that such is the wisdom, and grace displayed in the gospel, the blessings of which are freely exhibited to all nations and to all men, as to excite the attention, and employ the contemplation of the holy angels. They bow down and desire to look into this wonderful scheme of divine grace, mercy and love; and through the church redeemed and sanctified, they behold new and uncommon displays of the divine attributes. Whatever wisdom they discover and admire in the
glorious height to which it raises its objects, will be a theme of everlasting praise. Some would render "the surpassing love of the knowledge of Christ;" but as such a phrase never occurs elsewhere, and as it is not very intelligible, I think the common version just, as vπiçõɑλhar often governs a genitive. See Wolfins.- To all the fulness, &c. That signifies to or unto, see Matt. xv. 28.; xxii. 4. Jobn xi. 31, 32.; xiii. 1. That ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God, or to that perfection of knowledge and love which God designed you to attain. See Ch. iv. 13, comp. with Ch. i. 23.
CHAP. IV. 1-3. On account of the Lord. Of my preaching him to you Gentiles, Ch. iii. 1. -Of the calling. Of you by the gospel, to repentance and faith, and to the hope of eternal life.-Unity of the Spirit. Hav. ing the same Spirit, closely united in peace and love.
With all humbleness of mind, and meekness, 2 with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love; Earnestly endeavouring to keep the 3 unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye 4 have been called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God; and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in [us] all. [us] all. But on every 7 one of us grace hath been bestowed according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Where- 8 fore it is said, fore it is said, "When he ascended on high,
other works of God's hand, they see in this the manifold wisdom of God," the depth of which no created mind can comprehend. Here mercy and truth meet in delightful harmony; righteousness and peace embrace each other. All the awful terrors of justice are displayed in the sufferings and atoning death of the Lamb; and the riches of mercy are dispensed to all who believe on him. Polluted sinners are cleansed, the guilty are pardoned, the miserable are made holy and happy, and children of wrath converted into sons of God and heirs of glory. What a mighty change does grace effect.
3. We are taught by the example of the apostle, that fervour in devotion is connected with unfeigned humility of heart. No christian can neglect the duty of prayer; but from a sense of his wants, as well as from his delight in intercourse and communion with God, he will often bow his knees to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. And it is especially the duty of ministers to do this, and most devoutly to seek the welfare and happiness of the people committed to their charge. Here they have a pattern, and are taught what to pray for; “that according to the riches of his grace, the people may be strengthened with might by the Spirit in the inner man; that they may have the most intimate communion with Christ, he dwelling in their hearts by faith; and that christian love may be a fixed and holy principle in the soul." Nor should our present knowledge or grace satisfy us. We should still study to comprehend more of redeeming love; to trace its depth, breadth, length, and height as far as possible; and even rejoice to think that it surpasseth human knowledge. What encouragement have we to pray from the power and grace of God. Nothing is too hard for God to accomplish, to whom be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all generations, and for ever and ever.
4-6. One body, &c. The church, and it is animated and enriched with the gifts of "one Spirit, even as ye have been called to experience the same hope as to its nature and object;" one Lord Jesus; "one faith," as to the truths believed, and as to the profession of it, by submitting to "one baptism." "One God the father of all" men, as Creator, and "who is above all" as the supreme ruler; and "through all" by his influence; "and in us all," as be lievers, by his spirit and truth.
Grace hath been, &c. According to the proportion in which Christ chooses to bestow his free and undeserved gifts.
8-10. He ascended on high, &c. See note, Ps. Ixviii. 18.-Descended first, &c. Into the grave, having suffered to conquer his enemies.————— All hra vens. All those visible to men, even into the third or invisible heavens, and
Putting on the new man.
he led a multitude of captives, and gave gifts || Having the understanding darkened, being 18 9 unto men." (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the 10 lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same that ascended also far above all 11 heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, 12 pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for 13 the edification of the body of Christ: Till we all come to the same faith in, and to the same knowledge of, the Son of God, to a perfect man, unto the measure of the full stature of 14 Christ: That we may be no more children, tossed like waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and 15 their subtilty in every method of deceit; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up to him in all things, who is the head, even 16 Christ: From whom the whole body fitly whole body fitly compacted together and connected by every assisting joint, according to the due operation of every part, maketh its increase to the edification of itself in love.
alienated from the life of God, through the
This I say therefore, and charge you in you in the Lord, that ye no more walk as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
13. The same faith in, &c. Greek the sameness of the faith, &c. Of the full stature of Christ. The church being compared to the human body, while it consisted of few members, and those but imperfectly instructed, the apostle considered it as in a state of childhood; but by the labour of teachers, supernaturally endowed, it was to grow to a state of manhood, when ordinary teachers would be sufficient for its edification and continuance.The full stature of Christ. What he requires, and which his disciples ought to attain. 14-16. Carried about. As a ship in a storm, by the wind of false doctrines, propagated by artful and crafty men; but let us ministers and christians in general, speak and ain the truth of the gospel, that so we may grow up in all things as to our religion to him who is our head, even Christ. From whom, &c.- -Maketh its increase. Greek, the noun is put for the p:0
Wherefore put away lying, and speak every 25 man truth with his neighbour; for we are members one of another. If ye be angry, yet 26 sin not let not the sun go down upon your wrath : And give no advantage to the accuser. 27 Let him that stole steal no more: but let him 28 rather labour, providing with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt discourse 29 proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edification, that it may minister benefit to the hearers. And grieve not 30 the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye were sealed
noun. This figure or simile shows the anatomical knowledge of the apostle.
20-24. Learned Christ. The doctrine, the religion of Christ.—Since ye have, &c. Teaching and instructing you by us, as the truth is in him: Have been taught To put off, &c. According to your former manner of life, when heathens and in sin, which state may be called the old man, &c.—To be renewed, &c. By receiving his instructions, and by attaining, through his Spirit, a suitable temper and holy affections; and in this manner, putting on the new man, who after God, according to his likeness, is created or formed in righteousness and true, not outward, holiness. Dr. Chandler supposes that the appostle alludes, in these verses, to the custom of actors on the stage, who not only change their dress, but assume and act the part of different persons aud characters.
25-29. Put away lying, &c. The heathens were much addicted to this, and their wise men justified it; but christians were to remember their relation to each other, and to speak the truth.--If ye be angry, &c. I so render, because I cannot suppose that the apostle would give a command to be angry,