« PreviousContinue »
both in glory, greatness, comprehension, grace, and bounty, and therefore they were opposers, not promoters of the true doctrine of the gospel, and the kingdom of God under the Messiah, who would confine it to the narrow and beggarly elements of this world, as St. Paul calls the positive ordinances of the mosaical institution. To confirm the gentile churches, whom he had converted, in this faith which he had instructed them in, and keep them from submitting to the mosaical rites, in the kingdom of Christ, by giving them a nobler and more glorious view of the gospel, is the design of this and the two following epistles. For the better understanding these epistles, it might be worth while to show their harmony all through, but this synopsis is not a place for it; the following paraphrase and notes will give an opportunity to point out several passages wherein their agreement will appear.
The latter end of this epistle, according to St. Paul's usual method, contains practical directious and exhortations.
He that desires to inform himself in what is left upon record, in sacred scripture, concerning the church of the ephesians, which was the metropolis of Asia, strictly so called, may read the 19th and 20th of the Acts.
CHAP. I. 1, 2.
THESE two verses contain St. Paul's inscription, or introduction of this epistle, what there is in it remarkable for its difference, from what is to be found in his other epistles, we shall take notice of in the notes.
TEXT. i PAUL, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, to the
saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace be to you, and peace from God our Father, and from the
Lord Jesus Christ.
PARAPHRASE. i Paul
an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the declared will and special appointment of God, to the professors of the
gospel“, who are in Ephesus ; couverts, who stand firu 2 in the faith of Christ Jesus; Favour and peace be to you
from God our father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
NOTES. 1 a Torserytors, though rightly translated "saints," yet it does not mean any other than a national sanctiñcation, such as the jews had, by being separated from the gentiles, and appropriated to God, as his peculiar people; not that every one, that was of the holy nation of the jews heretofore, or of the holy church of Christ, under the gospel, were saints, in that sense that the word is usually taken now among christians, riz. such persons as were every one of them actually in a state of salvation.
b Doços“ faithful." We have observed above, that this epistle, and that to the colossians, hare all through a very great resemblance; their lineaments do so correspond, that I think they may be twin-epistles, conceived and brought forth together, so that the very expressions of the one occurred fresh in St. Paul's memory, and were made use of in the other. Their being sent by the same messenger, Tychicus, is a farther probability, that they were writ at the same time. Nisois therefore being found in the introduction of both epistles, and no one other of St. Paul's, there is just reason to think, that it was a term suited to the present notion he had of those he was writing to, with reference to the business he was writing about. . I take it, therefore, that, by "faithful in Christ “ Jesus," he means here such as stood firm to Jesus Christ, which he did not count them to do, who made circumcision necessary to salvation, and an observance of jewish rites a requisite part of the christian religion. This is plain from his express words, Gal. v. 1, 2, "Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty, wherewith “ Christ hath made us free, and be not intangled again with the yoke of bondage. “ Behold I Paul say unto you, that, if ye are circumcised, Christ shall profit “ you nothing, &c." And those that contended for submission to the law, he calls “ perverters of the gospel of Christ,” Gal. i. 7, and more to the same purpose may be seen in that epistle. We shall have an occasion to confirm this interpretation of the word misès, " faithful," here, when we come to consider the import of the word disos, “ faith," ver. 15. They that would have x, “ and," not exegetical here, but used only to join, under the title of " faithful “ in Christ Jesus," the converts in Asia, I shall desire, besides Col. i. 2, to read also 1 Cor. i. 2, and thereby judge in what sense they are to understand " and to “ the faithful in Christ Jesus" here.
CHAP. I. 3-14.
In this section St. Paul thanks God for his grace and bounty to the gentiles, wherein he so sets forth both God's gracious purpose of bringing the gentiles into his kingdom under the Messiah, and his actual bestowing on them blessings of all kinds, in Jesus Christ, for a complete re-instating <them in that his heavenly kingdom, that there could be nothing stronger suggested to make the ephesians, and other gentile converts, not to think any more of the law, and that much inferiour kingdom of his, established upon the mosaical institution, and adapted to a little canton of the earth, and a small tribe of men'; as now necessary to be retained under this more spiritual institution, and celestial kingdom, erected under Jesus Christ, intended to comprehend men of all nations, and extend itself to the utmost bounds of the earth, for the greater honour of God, or, as St. Paul speaks, “ to the praise of the glory of God."
TEXT. 8 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who
hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings, in heavenly places, in Christ:
PARAPHRASE. 3 Blessed and magnified be the God and Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ, who has, in and by Jesus Christ', furnished us gentiles with all sorts of blessings, that may fit us to be
NOTES. 3 'Ev Xpss@, “ in Christ,” I take to be put here emphatically, and to sig. nify the same with, " filleth all in all," v. 23, which is more fully explained, Col.iii. 11, “where there is neither greek, nor jew, circumcision nor uncircum. “ cision, barbarian, scythian, bond, nor free, but Christ is all, and in all."
“Us." The right understanding of this section, and indeed of this whole epistle, depends very much on understanding aright, who are more especially comprehended under the terms, “us” and “we," from ver. 3, to 12. For is us,” must signify either, 1. St. Paul himself personally; but that the visible tenour of the discourse at first sight plainly destroys: besides, it suits not Ste
NOTE. Paul's modesty to attribute so much in particular to himself, as is spoke of “us" and “ we," in this section; or if we could think he would give himself that liberty ; yet ver. 12 overturns it all; for nuãs tоūs apona toxotas, “we who first “ trusted in Christ,” can by no means be admitted to be spoken by St. Paul personally of himself. Add to this, that in this very chapter, no farther off than ver. 15, St. Paul, speaking of himself, says, “I," in the singular number; and so he does, chap. iii
. ver. 7, 8. Or, 2. It must signify believers in general; but that apanatixótas, joined to it, will not admit, for we, the first believers, cannot signify we all that are believers, but restrains the persons to some sort of men, that then began to believe, i.e. the gentiles: and then the next words, ver. 13, have an easy and natural connexion; we other gentiles, who first believed in Christ, in whom also ye, the gentiles also of Ephesus, after ye heard, believed. Or,
3. It must signify the convert jews. But would it not be somewhat preposterous for St. Paul so much to magnify God's goodness and bounty to the jews in particular, in an epistle writ to a church of converted gentiles: wherein te addresses himself to the gentiles, in contra-distinction to the jews, and tells them they were to be made co-partners with them in the kingdom of the Messian, which was opened to them by abolishing of the law of Moses, intimated plainly in this very section, ver. 7–10. Wherein he magnifies the riches of the favour of God, to the persons he is speaking of, under the denomination “us," in gathering again all things, i.e. men of all sorts, under Christ the head, which could not mean the jews alone : but of this he speaks more openly afterwards. Farther, " we" here, and “ we," chap. ii. 3, must be the same, and denote the same persons; but the “ we," chap. ii. 3, can neither be St. Paul alone, nor be. lievers in general, nor jewish converts in particular, as the obvious sense of the place demonstrates: for neither St. Paul can be called, " we all;" nor is it trix that all the convert jews had their conversation among the gentiles, as our bible renders the greek; which, if otherwise to be understood, is more directly against signifying the jews. These, therefore, being excluded from being meant by *s we" and “ us,” here, who can remain to be signified thereby, but the convert gen. tiles in general? That St. Paul, who was the apostle of the gentiles, did often, in an obliging manner, join himself with the gentile converts under the terms us and we, as if he had been one of them, there are so many instances, that it cannot seem strange that he should do so in this section; as Rom. v. 1–11, where it is plain all along, under the term “us," he speaks of the gentile converts,
other passages might he brought out of this epistle to evince it; chap. i. 11, he saith, " we have obtained an inheritance." Those we, it is plain, chap. iii. 6, were gentiles. So chap. ii. 5, “when we," i.e. converts of the gentiles, were dead in sins :" for I do not remember that the jews are any where said, by St. Paul, to be dead in sins; that is one of the distinguishing characters of the gentiles: and there we see, in the same verse, “we” is changed into "ye:" and so ver. 6 and 7, having spoke of the gentiles in the first person,
in the beginning of the next verse it is changed into " ye," i. e. “ 'ye “ ephesians,” a part of those gentiles. To this I shall add one place more, out of the parallel epistle to the colossians, chap. i. 12, 13, where he uses nuã, “ for the convert gentiles, changing the " ye," in the 10th verse, to “ us," in the 12th: the matter of giving thanks being the same, all along from ver. S, where it begins, and is repeated here again, ver. 12, i.e. the removing of the gentiles, out of the kingdom of the devil and darkness, into the kingdom of his beloved son: or, as he expresses it, Eph. i. 6, “Wherein he hath made us 26.
cepted in the beloved.”. And in the same sense he uses nuwv, “us," Col. i. 14. ' For those that the hand-writing of ordinances was against, and contrary to were the gentiles, as he declares, Eph. ii. 14, 15, who were kept off froin corp. ing to be the people of God, by those ordinances, which were that, wherein the
TEXT. 4 According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of
the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love:
partakers of his heavenly kingdom, without need of any 4 assistance from the law, According as he chose us gentiles,
upon Christ's account alone“, before the law was, even before the foundation of the world,' to be his people" under Jesus the Messiah, and to live unblameable lives • before him, in all love and affection, to all the saints, or
enmity between the jews and gentiles consisted, and was kept up; which, therefore, Christ abolished, to make way for their union into one body, under Christ their head. Other passages, tending to the clearing of this, we shall have occasion to take notice of, as they occur in the sequel of this epistle.
4 c 'Ey avtã, " in him," i.e. Christe in the former verse it is súroyhods ημάς εν πάση εύλογεία εν Χρισώ. Καθώς εξελέξατο ημάς εν αυτώ. All which together make up this sense : as it was in consideration of Christ alone, that « God heretofore, before the foundation of the world, designed us gentiles to “ be his people; so now the Messiah is come, all the blessings and benefits, we « are to receive in his heavenly kingdom, are laid up in him, and to be had only « by our faith and dependence on him, without any respect to the law, or any “ other consideration.”
d'Agroi, " saints,” in St. Paul's epistles is known to signify christians, i. é. such as made profession of the gospel, for those were now the people of God.
e See in Col. i. 22, this verse explained, where comparing it with the immediately preceding words, ver. 21, one may find a farther reason to take “ us," here, to signify the gentile converts, the same thing being applied there solely to the gentile converts of Colosse.
*** Affection to all the saints.". That this is the meaning, may be seen, ver. 15, where to their true faith in Christ, which he was rejoiced with, he joined Thi árétn tnu siç sánlos Tès lyies, " love unto all the saints.” The very same thing, which he takes notice of in the colossians, in the very same words, Col. i. 4. Why love is so ofren mentioned in this epistle, as chap. iii. 18, and iv. 2, 15, 16, and v. 2, and vi. 23, we may find a reason, chap. ii. 11-22, wherein there is an account given of the enmity between the jews and gentiles, which Christ had taken away the cause of; and, therefore, the ceasing of it was one great mark of men's being right in the faith, and of their having true and worthy notions of Christ, who had broke down the wall of partition, and opened the kingdom of heaven to all equally, who believed in him, without any the least distinction of nation, blood, profession, or religion, that they were of before, all that being now done away, and superseded by the prince of peace, Jesus Christ the righteous, to make way for a more enlarged and glorious kingdom, solely by faith in him, which now made the only distinction among men; so that all, who agreed in that, were thereby brought to the saine level, to be all brethren and fellow-members in Christ, and the people, or sons of God, as he says in the next verse.