Ephesians Chapter 1

Ephesians Chapter 1

MY PERSONAL COMMENTARY

ON

THE BOOK OF EPHESIANS

By David L. Hannah

CHAPTER ONE:

Ephesians 1:1

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:

* Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, *

Paul states that he’s an apostle because God chose him to be, and that God made this choice for the sole purpose of His wanting to.  The Apostle had many enemies who attempted to undermine his ministry by questioning his authority.  He here emphasizes that his calling is from God Himself.  His Apostleship was just as certain as that of the Jerusalem Twelve.

* to the saints which are at Ephesus, *

Concerning “at Ephesus,”

“There has been much dissension as to the destination of the epistle. The principal views are three: 1. That it was addressed to the church at Ephesus. 2. To the church at Laodicaea. 3. That it was an encyclical or circular epistle, intended for the church at Ephesus along with a body of neighboring churches. Some also have regarded it as designed for the churches of Ephesus and Laodicaea, and others for the Laodicaean church along with a circle of churches” [Vincent].

Commentators aren’t certain as to who this letter was addressed.

“The oldest documents (Aleph and B) do not have the words en Ephesoi (in Ephesus) in Eph 1:1 (inserted by a later hand). Origen did not have them in his copy. Marcion calls it the Epistle to the Laodiceans” [Robertson].

However, Robertson also says,

“It is perfectly proper to call it the Epistle to the Ephesians if we understand the facts.”

Regarding “to the saints,”

“Origen explains the words tois hagiois tois ousin as meaning ‘the saints that are’ (genuine saints), showing that his MSS. did not have the words en Ephesoi[Robertson].

Rather this Epistle was written to the Ephesians, the Laodicaeans, or rather it was intended to be read by several churches, one thing is for certain; it was intended for those who are “saints.”  It is the Word of God for all who believe in His Son, Jesus.

* and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: *

In regards to “the faithful,”

“Not faithful in the sense of fidelity and perseverance, but believing, as John 20:27; Acts 10:45. It is to be included with the saints under the one article” [Vincent].

Though the Apostle had in mind the readers of the Epistle in his day, the Holy Spirit had you and I in mind as well.

(Verse One of Chapter One in my own words.)

I, Paul, one who God chose by the council of His own will to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, am addressing this Epistle to all who are truly saints [at Ephesus], and have faithfully followed Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 1:2

Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

* Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. *

Concerning “grace be to you,”

It’s “equivalent would be ‘May God bless you’ or ‘be kind to you’” [UBS].

Regarding “peace,”

“Peace is a word with its roots in the Old Testament concept of salvation as wholeness, completeness, the full and abundant life enjoyed by God’s people because of their relationship to one another and to God” [UBS].

It’s Paul’s desire that God will continue to favor us, and that the peace that’s found in Him, and in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, will abound in our lives.  This is a desire that he expresses in all of his Epistles (Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2; Gal 1:3;

Phil 1:2; Col 1:2; 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:2; 1 Tim 1:2; 2 Tim 1:2; Titus 1:4; Phil 1:3).

This “grace” that Paul wants us to experience continually, to walk in, has two sides.  First, of course, it refers to walking in God’s favor, that favor being undeserved.  Second, it refers to walking in the power of Divine enablement, or in the power of God’s might (see my notes on Gal 2:9).

This “peace” refers to our being at peace with God, and consequently, at peace with one another.  We are accepted in Christ, in spite of our imperfections, and therefore we are free to accept others, in spite of their imperfections.

Father God and His Son, Jesus Christ, are the source of Divine favor and Divine enablement.  It’s only in our union with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, through our relationship with the Lord Jesus, that we are able to experience these blessings.

(Verse Two of Chapter One in my own words.)

May God, our Father, and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, always smile on you, and may you experience the peace that comes from knowing God and His Son.

Ephesians 1:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

* Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, *

Regarding “blessed,”

“The word differs from that used in the Beatitudes, makarios (NT:3107), which denotes ‘character,’ while this word denotes ‘repute.’ Literally, ‘well-spoken of’” [Vincent].

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” [The People’s New Testament].

The Amplified Bible renders it,

“May blessing (praise, laudation, and eulogy) be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah).”

Many modern translators render “blessed” as “praise” [NIV, NLT, the Living Bible, TEV, BBE, CEV, and the God’s Word Translation].  We are to speak well of God, to give Him praise for the many things He has done for us.

The God we are encouraged to speak well of, or to praise, is the God, and the Father, of the Lord Jesus Christ.

God has “lavished” His love on us (1 John 3:1) [NIV], beginning with the gift of His Son (John 3:16; 1 John 3:16; 4:9), and continuing with all the “blessings” that come along with our salvation.  He is worthy “to receive glory and honour and power” (Rev 4:11), and we should be faithful to worship Him for Who He is and praise Him for what He does.

* who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings *

Concerning “hath blessed,”

“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” [The People’s New Testament].

Note Vincent’s definition of the first “blessed,” when it referred to God, “Literally, ‘well-spoken of.’”  In Strong’s Concordance this first “blessed” is Greek word #2128, the second “blessed” is Greek word #2127, and “blessings” is Greek word #2129.

Following are Strong’s definitions of these three words:

#2127 – “From a compound of G2095 and G3056; to speak well of, that is, (religiously) to bless (thank or invoke a benediction upon, prosper).”

#2128 – “adorable.”

#2129 – “From the same as G2127; fine speaking, that is, elegance of language; commendation (‘eulogy’), that is, (reverentially) adoration; religiously, benediction; by implication consecration; by extension benefit or largess.”

Again, the People’s New Testament tells us that we get our word “eulogize” from Greek word #2128, and Strong’s Concordance tells us that Greek word #2129 means “eulogy.”  When we bless God we’re saying great things about Him.  When He blesses us He’s saying great things about us.  The difference is that His words are creative.  What He says about you and I are absolute truth as a result of His having said them, because He Who “calleth those things which be not as though they were” (Rom 4:17) “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2), because it’s “impossible for God to lie” (Heb 6:18).

Think of the Patriarchs of the Old Testament.  Jacob deceived Isaac, his father, and received the blessing meant for Esau (Gen 27:27-41).  Esau cried out, “Bless me, even me also, O my father” (Gen 27:34), and “Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father” (Gen 27:38).  Why all the fuss?  Why were Jacob and Esau so intent on getting Isaac’s blessing?  What was it?  It was words!  Isaac spoke great things about Jacob.  Esau was desperate for his father to speak great things about him.  They understood Isaac’s words of blessing to be prophetic, a foretelling of the future.

We should crave to hear God speaking great things about us because His Words are more than prophetic; they’re creative.  The weight of Isaac’s words didn’t lie in himself, but in God.  Isaac was merely stating prophetically what God had determined to do.  Yet men fought over, and cried over his words.  The weight of God’s word does lie in Himself.  Isaac was a messenger; God is the spokesperson.  Isaac could have misrepresented God; God cannot misrepresent Himself!

Paul will go on to reveal to us the blessings God has spoken over us (Eph 1:4-14).  These blessing belong to all who have been born into the family of God.  Yes, they’re only words; but thank God they’re God’s words, His creative words!

Regarding “spiritual blessings,”

“Pardon, peace, redemption, adoption, the earnest of the Spirit, etc., referred to in the following verses – blessings which ‘individual Christians’ enjoy, and not external privileges conferred on nations” [Barnes].

“Not spiritual as distinguished from bodily, but proceeding from the Holy Spirit” [Vincent].

The “spiritual blessings” that Paul’s referring to in the following verses (Eph 1:4-14) are from the Holy Spirit, and are therefore “spiritual” in their nature.  The promises that have been given to us regarding these “spiritual blessings” are some of the very “exceeding great and precious promises” whose function is to make us “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Pet 1:4).

The main function of New Testament promises is to facilitate the ongoing process of the fulfillment of God’s eternal purpose for our lives, our becoming “conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom 8:29).  God desires our spiritual prosperity infinitely more that He desires our financial prosperity.

* in heavenly places in Christ: *

Concerning “heavenly places,”

Places is supplied, the Greek meaning in the heavenlies. Some prefer to supply things, as more definitely characterizing spiritual blessing[Vincent].

It may mean heavenly ‘places,’ or heavenly ‘things.’ The word ‘places’ does not express the best sense. The idea seems to be, that God has blessed us in Christ in regard to heavenly subjects or matters” [Barnes].

Here are some other translations of this phrase:

[NIV] “in the heavenly realms — in Christ.”

[NLT] “in the heavenly realms because we belong to Christ.”

[TLB] “in heaven because we belong to Christ.”

[TEV] “For in our union with Christ — in the heavenly world.”

[CEV] “that Christ has brought us from heaven!”

[GNB] “in our union with Christ — in the heavenly world.”

[MSG] “takes us to the high places of blessing in him.”

Now that we’ve become one with Christ, as a result of our lives being “hid with Christ in God” (Col 3:3), all blessings that are Spiritual in their nature, that pertain to the Who God is [His glory], are now our blessings “in Christ.”  As I stated in my comments on the previous portion of our current verse, God’s eternal purpose for our lives is to restore in redeemed man the “image of his Son” that we were created in (Gen 1:27; Heb 1:3), but was lost as a result of sin (Rom 3:23).  God already sees it as done (Rom 8:30)!  We will realize it fully when “we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).  In the meantime the process of spiritual growth is ongoing as we “are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Cor 3:18) [NIV].

(Verse Three of Chapter One in my own words.)

Praise (words that speak well of His character and works) be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  [We praise Him because] He has spoken [with creative power] His blessings on us with [creative] words that are Spiritual, speaking of things that are heavenly [in their origin], things that we now possess in Christ.

Ephesians 1:4

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 *

“At the same time one would not want to use a term for ‘choose’ based upon the special worthiness of the object chosen, since this would violate the whole theological implications of God’s choice of his people. Therefore, the implication of any verb meaning ‘to choose’ must point to some purpose for the person who does the choosing and should not be dependent upon the idea of worthiness in the individual chosen” [UBS].

“it intends an eternal election of particular persons to everlasting life and salvation” [Gill].

“Before the foundations of the world were laid, God had determined that all who believed on his Son should be saved” [Zondervan].

“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” [the People’s New Testament].

Who’s the Apostle addressing?  He’s writing to those who are “saints,” those who are “the faithful in Christ Jesus” (Eph 1:1).  All of the “spiritual blessings” (Eph 1:3) that these opening verses speak of (Eph 1:3-14) are found “in Christ” (Eph 1:3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13), and are for the “saints,” those who are “the faithful in Christ Jesus,” those who are “chosen” “in him.”

As you can see in the above-mentioned quotes there are various opinions concerning the doctrine of Divine election.  Is Gill correct?  Did God create all of mankind, but then choose to save only an elect few, and that, as Paul states, would be “according to the good pleasure of his will” (Eph 1:5), that “good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself” (Eph 1:9), that good pleasure that’s “according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph 1:11)?  Or, is the People’s New Testament correct?  Did God create all of mankind with the purpose of redeeming all those who would come to know Christ through saving faith, because they chose to come to Him?

There are some questions we should ask ourselves.  Does the phrase “For God so loved the world,” (John 3:16) imply the whole of humanity, or the “world” of the Divine elect?  Does the final part of that verse, “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” imply the choice of the individual, or the choice of God?

If we’re to conclude that the “world” that God “so loved” is referring to the “world” of the Divine elect, then we must also conclude that “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16) only in reference to that Divine elect.  We must conclude that the phrase that tells us that God “is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9) is also referring only to the Divine elect.  We must then conclude that every verse in the New Testament that speaks about God’s love, His desire to redeem, His taking away the sins of the world, the “whosoever believeth” crowd, are speaking only to that Divine elect.  In other words, we must conclude that God’s love is selective; or, God loves me but He hates my neighbor.  If that’s the case, and we’re to be like Jesus, then perhaps we should love God’s children and hate the unregenerate.  If God has put within me, one who is “evil,” the ability to love those who are outside of the faith, “how much more” does our “Father which is in Heaven” (Matt 7:11) love them?

PERSONAL NOTE: Many amazing scholars, commentators who have committed their very lives to seeking God and studying His Word, men who I study and have the deepest respect for, have reached the above conclusion, that being that God’s love is indeed limited to the Divine elect.  That’s a conclusion I cannot reach!  Men of far greater intelligence than I, men who have spent far more time in the study of Scripture than I have, disagree in their opinions on this subject.  I feel inadequate to join in the discussion with these who I respect so highly.  However, that’s the very purpose of a Commentary, the sharing of the commentator’s conclusions.  So, with hesitancy, I press forward.

According to our current verse you and I have been “chosen.” God actually calls many, but only a few of those who make up the “many” are “chosen” (Matt 20:16; 22:14).  Why?  Why would God call someone whom He will not choose?  In other words, if it weren’t “according to the good pleasure of his will” (Eph 1:6) to save an individual then why would He call him?

What does it mean to be “chosen”?  Let’s look at the two parables where Jesus concluded His stories by telling us that God calls a far greater number of people than He actually chooses (Matt 20:1-16; 22:1-14).  The first parable tells us that God has a right to reward an individual who only worked an hour with the same reward that He rewards someone who worked all day long.  In this story the choosing is in reference to how God decides to reward those who answer His call; and the choice is entirely God’s.  In the second parable a guest to the king’s banquet, given in honor of his son’s marriage, entered the banquet hall without a “wedding garment” on.  Many commentators tell us that the custom was to present those invited with the proper attire, and they were to don the apparel before entering the banquet hall.  In this case the choosing is in reference to who is allowed to participate in the wedding feast; and the choice began with the king’s invitation to the “many,” then continued with the choice of the one invited (would he put on the proper apparel or not), and concluded with the king, who made his choice based on the attire of the one invited, not on his preference of one individual over another.

The invitation was first given to Israel, who rejected it (John 1:11) [or, in this parable, made excuses for not accepting it].  Then the invitation went out to “whosoever” would accept it (Matt 16:25; Mark 8:34-35; Luke 9:24; John 3:16; Rev 22:17) [in this parable to those who were in “the highways, and as many as ye shall find” (Matt 22:9)].  Among the many “called” the ones “chosen” were those who put on the wedding garment, or, in our case, the ones who receive the Lord Jesus Christ into their lives.

Paul speaks of God choosing Jacob over Esau before either was born so “that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth” (Rom 9:11); of Him having mercy and compassion only on those He chooses to (Rom 9:15); of the fact that “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Rom 9:16); of how He hardened Pharoah’s heart so He could show Himself powerful (Rom 9:17-18); of His right to form us and use us anyway that pleases Him (Rom 9:19-21); and of His having “vessels of wrath fitted to destruction” (Rom 9:22) and “vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory” (Rom 9:23).  However, Paul concludes that chapter by telling his readers that the Gentiles “attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith” (Rom 9:30), and that Israel “hath not attained to the law of righteousness” (Rom 9:31) because “they sought it not by faith” (Rom 9:32). Or, Israel failed to discover the righteousness of God because they didn’t seek it by faith.  Some in Israel found it (Rom 9:24), but most didn’t.  Why?  It was because they didn’t come to God by faith.  Those who “attained to righteousness” did so because they “sought it” “by faith,” not because God predetermined that some should by saved, and others should perish.  Paul also tells us that those who are “vessels of wrath” (current verse), or “children of wrath” (Eph 2:3), can become “vessels of mercy” (current verse), or those who are “quickened” “together with Christ” (Eph 2:5), and “raised” “up together,” and “made” to “sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6).  In other words, “vessels of wrath” can become “vessels of mercy,” i.e., Christians.

I can’t discuss, at this time, every single verse in the Bible that those who believe in Calvinism point to, nor does any other commentator do this in his notes on our current verse.  Suffice it for now for me to point out that I believe Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans (Rom 9:1–11:36) is speaking of God’s choice in who He will use to perform His will on earth, not who He will choose to receive into Heaven by His mercy, and who He will choose to send to eternal damnation.  God used Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to do His will on earth.  God used Pharaoh to do His will on earth.  When it comes to His choosing who He will use to carry out His purpose on earth then He will have “mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth” (Rom 9:18) because “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Rom 9:16); but when it comes to eternal salvation the choice is made in accordance with, rather or not, one seeks it “by faith” (Rom 9:30-32).  He hardened Pharaoh’s heart in order that He might show Himself mighty (Rom 9:22), and He hardened Israel’s heart in order to bring salvation to the Gentiles (Rom 11:7-11, 15, 25).  However, when God had fulfilled His purpose Pharaoh could have repented, and when the “the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom 11:25) Israel will repent (Rom 11:26).  Israel, a “vessel of wrath,” will once again be a “vessel of mercy.”

God chooses who He will to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Eph 4:11; 1 Cor 1:1; 2 Cor 1:1; Gal 1:1; Eph 1:1; Col 1:1; 1 Tim 1:1, 11-16; 2 Tim 1:1).  The Holy Spirit chooses who He will give spiritual gifts to (1 Cor 12:7-11). However, “whosoever” may come to God for salvation (John 1:12; 3:15-16, 36).

“‘He hath chosen’ is exelexato, the first aorist middle of eklego ‘to pick out, choose,’ in the middle voice where the subject of the verb  acts in his own interest, ‘to pick or choose out for one’s self.’  This is another of those important doctrinal words in Ephesians.  We turn to Biblico-Theological Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, by Hermann Cremer, which specializes in the important doctrinal and theological words of the Christian system.  Cremer, in discussing the meaning and usage of this verb, makes the following points; first, the word is used of God choosing out Israel from amongst the nations to be the channel through which He will bring salvation to all those in these other nations who will receive it.  This choosing out of Israel from among the nations does not imply that those nations not chosen are rejected or refused salvation.  Indeed, the salvation of Israel was for the purpose of being channels through which the knowledge of salvation might be brought to the rest of mankind, so that those who put their trust in the Lord Jesus as Saviour might be saved.  This precludes the idea that those not selected are rejected or refused salvation; second, the middle voice of the verb gives it the meaning of taking or setting apart something for one’s self, to seek or choose out something for one’s self; however, Cremer says ‘it is unwarranted to give special prominence either to the element of selection from among others, or to that of preference above others.  The main imprt is appointment for a certain object or goal; third, the word is used of the act of choosing some person or thing for a definite object or calling.  The middle voice in Greek represents the subject of the verb acting in his own interest or for himself.  Thus, this selection of the saints in this age of grace is the act of God choosing out from among mankind, certain for Himself. These become His own, to be used for a certain purpose” [Wuest].

* before the foundation of the world, *

Concerning this phrase,

“An old word from kataballoo (NT:2598), to fling down, used of the deposit of seed, the laying of a foundation. This very phrase with pro (NT:4253) in the Prayer of Jesus (John 17:24) of love of the Father toward the Son. It occurs also in 1 Peter 1:20. Elsewhere we have apo (NT:575) (from) used with it (Matt 25:34; Luke 11:50; Heb 4:3; 9:26; Rev 13:8; 17:8)” [Robertson].

Before time as we know it God had you and I in mind.  Before Adam and Eve, before they sinned and caused the fall of the human race, before God entered into covenant with Abraham, before there was a nation of Israel, before the cross of Calvary, God already had you and I in mind.

* that we should be holy and without blame before him *

Regarding “holy,”

“From ἅγος hagos (an awful thing) compare G53, [H2282]; sacred (physically pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially consecrated)” [Strong’s Concordance].

Concerning “without blame,”

“1) without blemish; 1a) as a sacrifice without spot or blemish; 2) morally: without blemish, faultless, unblameable” [Thayer].

This is the purpose of God’s choosing us, that “we should be holy and without blame.”  We “know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2), and the eternal purpose of God will be fulfilled in that we will be absolutely “conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom 8:29).  At that point we shall be “holy” in every sense of the word, and we’ll be absolutely “without blame before” Him.  However, what about now?

In the practical sense, in the sense of our walking out holiness, we’re not completely holy.  Sin still dwells in the members of our bodies (Rom 7:23), and consequently we sometimes commit sin.  However, in the positional sense, we’re completely holy.  We’re holy by virtue of our belonging to God.  God has separated us unto Himself.  We are His “stuff”!  In that sense we are the “holy” [separated] people of God.  The challenge is to walk out that holiness in our daily lives.

We also stand before Him “without blame,” not because we’re sinless, but because God “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).  As we “confess our sins,” as we see ourselves in need of His cleansing (1 John 1:7), as we stand in faith, believing His promise that He has taken away our sin (John 1:29), we stand totally forgiven, and totally cleansed.

* in love: *

Concerning “in love,”

“Join with foreordained, Eph_1:5. Having in love foreordained[Vincent].

“But as love is the fulfilling of the law, and love the fountain whence their salvation flowed, therefore love must fill their hearts towards God and each other, and love must be the motive and end of all their words and works” [Clarke].

Many Commentators see “in love” belonging to the next verse, as does Vincent.  However, some agree with Clarke that the KJV has placed it in the correct verse.  Some who agree with Clarke believe “in love” to refer to God’s action, while others believe it to refer to our love towards God and one another, and that the Apostle is pointing out that love is the strength of our sanctification.

Certainly both points are Scriptural.  God has chosen us because He loves us, and our walking before God in holiness is only possible to the extent we love God, and one another.  As to where this phrase belongs, in our current verse or in the next, and rather it refers to God’s love for us or to our love for Him and one another, I’ll leave those arguments to the theologians.

(Verse Four of Chapter One in my own words.)

Even as God has chosen you and I, the ones who reside in Him, long before this world existed.  He chose us to be His holy people (a people who are holy by virtue of our being God’s children, and a people who, by His power, are walking out holiness).  And He has also chosen us to be a people who stand before Him without blame (by virtue of our sins having been paid for at Calvary).   We find the strength to live out our sanctification by the power of His love that dwells in us.

Ephesians 1:5

Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

* Having predestinated us *

Concerning “predestinated us,”

“From pro (NT:4253) ‘before,’ horizoo (NT:3724) ‘to define,’ the latter word being from horos (NT:3725), ‘a boundary.’ Hence, ‘to define or determine beforehand’” [Vincent].

to predetermine, decide beforehand; in the NT of God decreeing from eternity; to foreordain, appoint beforehand” [Thayer].

Before “the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4) God determined to do certain things.   What were they?   Paul identifies one of those things in this verse.  God has determined from eternity past that all who place their faith in the Lord Jesus will be received into the family of God, adopting us as His children “by Jesus Christ.”

Notice the similarity between Ephesians 1:4-5 and Romans 8:29.

1) Compare “he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world,” to “whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate.”

2) Compare “that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:” to “to be conformed to the image of his Son.”

3) Compare “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself,” to “that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

Whatever the predestination of those who are the chosen of God refers to in our current passage (Eph 1:4-5) the predestination of those God foreknew in the other passage (Rom 8:29) refers to as well.  In other words, the chosen ones are the ones God foreknew.  The one crowd says, “God foreknew those who He would choose to come to Him,” while the other crowd says, “God chose those He foreknew would come to Him through faith in His Son.”  I believe that the truth lies somewhere in the middle.  I agree with the following statement,

“Possession of eternal life involves both human faith and divine appointment” [Zondervan] (in their notes on Acts 13:48).

A PERSONAL NOTE: Again, if one’s doctrine totally excludes man’s part in salvation, that part being the placing of his trust in the Lord Jesus, and insists that salvation is totally dependent on God’s chose, then that doctrine must conclude that God chose millions upon millions to burn in Hell.  The argument against such a statement would be that the Scripture teaches that God selected those who would be saved, but it doesn’t teach that he selected those who would be damned.  But that is absolutely false!  If the only way an individual can come to Christ is through the election of God then all those who haven’t been selected to life have, by the absence of that selection to life, been selected to death.  IF GOD HAS PRE-SELECTED THE REDEEMED FOR LIFE, THEN HE HAS PRE-SELECTED THE UNREDEEMED TO DEATH, ETERNAL DEATH IN HELL!  We must ask ourselves if that interpretation fits the rest of the teachings of Scripture.  I once heard a radio minister say something like this, “If five apples fall off a tree, and I choose to pick up only three of them, I’m not being unfair to the other two.  God isn’t being unfair to those He hasn’t chosen by His choosing us.”  I was amazed at that example.  You and I aren’t apples!  Our neighbors aren’t apples!  If I choose to allow two apples to rot on the ground they feel nothing.  If God chooses to allow multi-millions of souls to remain in their sin, souls He could elect to eternal life if it’s all up to Him, those souls will feel unbelievable torment forever and ever, and that torment will be the result of God’s choices, not theirs.  I just don’t see that God in the Scriptures.  I see a God Who longed after Jerusalem (Matt 23:37-39), Who takes “no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Eze 33:11), and Who says at the ending of the Scripture, “the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev 22:17).  I see a God Who longs for all to “Come.”

ANOTHER PERSONAL NOTE: There are so many Scriptures that seem to teach that our salvation is a matter of God’s choice alone (John 15:16, 19; Acts 13:48; Rom 8:29-30; 9:11-13, 16, 21; 11:5-6; Gal 1:15; Eph 1:4-5, 11; 2:1, 5-6, 10; 2 Thess 2:13-14) [a few examples], and there are so many Scriptures that seem to teach that our choice plays a part in our salvation as well (John 3:15-16; 8:31; Rom 1:16-17; 3:22; 4:13; 5:1; 9:30-33; 10:9-10, 13, 17; Gal 3:8; Phil 3:9; Col 1:22-23; Heb 3:14; 11:17; Rev 22:17) [a few examples].  Some say that our choosing to trust in Christ is dependent upon God’s election.  Others say that God’s election is dependent upon our choosing to trust in Christ.  The first say that if our choice is involved then God isn’t in total control, and there’s no guarantee that God’s will on earth will be fully accomplished.  The second say that God will fully accomplish His will on earth without infringing on man’s choice.  Again, we must decide which doctrine fits best with the whole of Scripture.  As you read in my previous notes I personally am unable to fit the doctrine of Divine election (His choosing of some while He leaves others to die in their sins) into the overwhelming truth that “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16).  Consequently, it is my understanding that His election is a matter based on His foreknowledge that I would choose to follow Him; that my choice will in no way infringe on His election, or His sovereignty; and that my choice will in no way prevent the eternal purposes of God from being fulfilled.  God is completely able to do whatever He desires without infringing on the free will of any man.

* unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, *

Concerning this “adoption,” God has pre-determined: 1) that all we who place our faith in Christ will be adopted into His family (current verse); 2) that we will ultimately be restored to the very “image of his Son” (Rom 8:29); that we all currently “come short of” the “image of his Son” as a result of sin (Rom 3:23); and 3) that we will once again be fully conformed to His image (1 John 3:2).

* according to the good pleasure of his will, *

Concerning this phrase,

“gives the basis or standard of God’s action in making us his children” [UBS].

“Not strictly in the sense of “kindly or friendly feeling,” as Luke 2:14; Phil 1:15, but “because it pleased Him,” see Luke 10:21; Matt 11:26. The other sense, however, is included and implied, and is expressed by “in love.” [Vincent].

Rather you believe His choosing us implies His selection of individuals to come to saving faith or His choosing to have a Church made up of all who choose to come to Him through faith, God chose us (Eph 1:4) because it pleased Him to do so.  Why would our becoming His children please Him?  I believe it’s simply because of His great love for us (John 3:16; 1 John 4:8, 16).  God loved you before there was an Adam and Eve, before He said “Let there be, and there was,” and His purpose to bring you into His family dates far beyond the beginning of our universe.

(Verse Five of Chapter One in my own words.)

Because of His love, before this world began God had already determined to adopt us into His family, allowing us to become His children through the redemptive work of His Son, Jesus Christ; and He did this because it pleased Him to do so,

Ephesians 1:6

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, *

“that is, that the glory of His grace may be praised by all His creatures, men and angels” [JFB].

“This is a Hebraism, and means the same as ‘to his glorious grace.’ The object was to excite thanksgiving for his glorious grace manifested in electing love” [Barnes].

The pre-determined plan of God that dates back to an eternity that existed “before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4), that plan being that God would adopt believers into His family, and thus make them His children (Eph 1:5), should provoke in those whose faith is in Christ an outpouring of praise to God for His glorious grace.  God’s eternal purposes, the fact that He knew us before there was a world, the fact that He chose us, the fact that He determined way back then to make us His children, the fact that He loved us before time existed, should cause all believers to praise Him.  God’s glory, the essence of Who He is, can be seen in the workings of His grace towards all who trust in His Son.

* wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. *

Concerning “he hath made us accepted,”

“The correct reading is hees (NT:3739) ‘which,’ referring to ‘grace.’ The meaning is not ‘endued us with grace,’ nor ‘made us worthy of love,’ but, as the English Revised Version (1885): ‘grace-which he freely bestowed.’ Grace is an ‘act’ of God, not a ‘state’ into which He brings us” [Vincent].

Regarding “us accepted,”

“a kindred Greek word to ‘grace’: charitos, echaritosen: translate, ‘graciously accepted’; ‘made us subjects of His grace’; ‘embraced us in the arms of His grace’ (Rom 3:24; Rom 5:15)” [JFB].

In the 25 translations of the New Testament that I’ve looked at in studying this verse only the 1833 Webster Bible (and its 1995 revision) and the 1898 Young’s Literal Translation agree with the various versions of the King James Bible (the original, the 1982 New King James Version, the 1995 21st Century Version, and the Modern King James Version).  [I don’t count revisions as separate from the original unless they differ in the translation of the verse I’m looking at.  Consequently, I only counted Webster once, and King James once.]  All of the other 22 translations I looked at agree with Vincent’s notes, and translate it similar to the English Revised Version.  Following are some examples:

“which he has freely given us in the One he loves” [NIV].

“which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” [NASB].

“for the free gift he gave us in his dear Son” [TEV].

by which He bestowed favor upon us in the Beloved” [EMTV].

“for the free gift he gave us in his dear Son” [GNB].

with which He has enriched us in the beloved One” [1912 Weymouth NT].

Concerning the other part of Vincent’s above-quoted notes,

“Grace is an ‘act’ of God, not a ‘state’ into which He brings us.”

He also tells us in his notes on Rom 5:2,

“Grace is conceived as a field into which we are brought. Compare Gal 1:6; 5:4; 1 Peter 5:12. The state of justification which is preeminently a matter of grace” [Vincent].

There is, then, that sense in which we have been brought into the ‘state’ of grace.  We stand in the ‘field’ of God’s favor towards us.  By His grace we have been saved, and in His grace we stand.

(Verse Six of Chapter One in my own words.)

So that we would see how praiseworthy the essence of His grace is; the grace He freely bestowed on us all who are in His beloved.

Ephesians 1:7

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, *

Regarding “redemption,”

redemption. See Eph 1:14; 4:30; Ro 3:24; Tit 2:14. The Ephesians were familiar with the Greco-Roman practice of redemption: Slaves were freed by the payment of a ransom. Similarly, the ransom necessary to free sinners from the bondage of sin and the resulting curse imposed by the law (see Gal 3:13) was the death of Christ (called here ‘his blood’)” [Zondervan].

“The Greek word has here no idea in it, as has been sometimes suggested, of a ransom paid to someone for the freeing of the captive; it stresses the result of the action of liberation. Instead of the present tense we are set free (or ‘we are free’), some translations prefer the past tense, ‘we have been set free’” [UBS].

“From apolutrooo ‘to redeem by praying the lutron (NT:3083) price.’ Mostly in Paul. See Luke 21:28; Heb 9:15; 11:35. The distinction must be carefully maintained between this word and lutron (NT:3083) ‘ransom.’ The Vulgate, by translating both ‘redemptio,’ confounds the ‘work’ of Christ with its ‘result.’ Christ’s death is nowhere styled apolutroosis (NT:629) ‘redemption.’ His death is the lutron (NT:3083) ‘ransom,’ figuratively, not literally, in the sense of a compensation; the ‘medium’ of the redemption, answering to the fact that Christ gave Himself for us” [Vincent].

“THE redemption which is the grand subject of all revelation, and especially of the New Testament (Rom 3:24), namely, from the power, guilt, and penal consequences of sin (Matt 1:21)” [JFB].

In Jesus, “the beloved” (Eph 1:6), we have received our freedom from the bondage of sin [redemption] through His death at Calvary, where He shed “his blood,” which death was the payment paid for our freedom.  WE ARE FREE!  We’re free from the Law, and consequently, we’re free from sin.  Sin no longer has dominion over us (Rom 6:14).  We’re free to partake “of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Pet 1:4).

I was once criticized for not preaching enough against sin.  However, what the individual really wanted me to do was preach about sin, not against sin.  He wanted me to teach that certain things were wrong, things that I consider to be in the category of disputable matters (Rom 14:1-6), things which aren’t clearly discussed in the Scriptures; and therefore opinion comes into play when we teach that they are, or they are not, sin.  That said, here’s a message against sin: “Sin, I am dead to you (Rom 6:2).  Your power over my body has been destroyed and I will not serve you (Rom 6:6).  I am free from you (Rom 6:7, 18, 22)!  I am indeed dead to you because I am alive in God through Jesus (Rom 6:11).  Therefore, you no longer reign in my mortal body, and I will not obey the sinful desires I experience (Rom 6:12).  I will not yield the members of my body to you (Rom 6:13).  Because I live in the sphere of God’s grace you have absolutely no dominion over me (Rom 6:14).  Through the victory of Calvary you have been condemned in my “flesh [subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice]” (Rom 8:3) [AMP].  Because Jesus rose from the dead I now live “in the likeness of his resurrection” (Rom 6:5).  My “old man” has been “crucified with him” (Rom 6:6), and I’m now “alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 6:11).  I now yield myself unto God, and my “members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Rom 6:13) because I am a servant of righteousness (Rom 6:18).  I don’t walk “after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom 8:4), and I now have my mind “set on what the Spirit desires” (Rom 8:5) [NIV].  I have been redeemed; and therefore I am free!

That, my dear reader, is a message against sin.

* the forgiveness of sins, *

In our current passage Paul teaches that our redemption includes “the forgiveness of sins,” and he teaches the same thing to the Colossian believers (Col 1:14).  However, in this passage he uses the Greek word paraptoma for “sins, but in the Colossian passage he uses the Greek word hamartia.

“Translate as Greek, ‘our sins.’ The more general term: for which Eph 1:7, Greek, has, ‘our transgressions,’ the more special term” [JFB] (in their notes on the Colossian passage).

Concerning “forgiveness,”

“1) release from bondage or imprisonment; 2) forgiveness or pardon, of sins (letting them go as if they had never been committed), remission of the penalty” [Thayer].

You and I who have placed our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ have been absolutely and totally forgiven for all of our sins; past, present, and future.  Here’s the amazing thing: JUSTICE DEMANDED IT (1 John 1:9)!  How can that be?  How can justice demand that a holy God forgive the repentant sinner?  God has forgiven us “for Christ’s sake” (Eph 4:32).  Jesus died for our sins.  He paid our penalty in full.  His death was the price of our redemption.  God’s justice has been forever satisfied.  Jesus has earned our forgiveness!  God owes it to His Son to forgive all who ask for His forgiveness.  AND, He not only forgives us; He cleanses “us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).  He has cleansed us from every spot, removed every wrinkle, and left us “holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:26-27).

* according to the riches of his grace; *

Regarding “grace,”

“2) good will, loving-kindness, favour; 2a) of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues” [Thayer] (part of his definition of the word “grace”).

“(Eph 2:7); ‘the exceeding riches of His grace.’ Compare Eph 1:18; Eph 3:16, ‘according to the riches of His glory’: so that ‘grace’ is His ‘glory.’” [JFB].

GOD DOES WHAT GOD DOES BECAUSE IT’S CONSISTENT WITH WHO GOD IS!  God is Love (1 John 4:8, 16).  He Who in very nature is love, loves.  He Who loves shows His favor on the objects of His love.  God is love!  We are the objects of His love!  Therefore, He shows His affection for us by showering us with His favor; the wealth of His grace!

(Verse Seven of Chapter One in my own words.)

And in Jesus we have been redeemed, which means we have been set free as a result of His death for us (His shedding His blood for us).  This freedom we now have is the forgiveness of our sins in accordance with the wealth of His grace.

Ephesians 1:8

Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

* Wherein he hath abounded toward us *

Concerning “abounded,”

“‘to cause to abound,’ ‘to multiply,’ which is formed from an adjective meaning ‘more than enough,’ ‘beyond the usual (amount or size)’” [UBS].

From the “riches of his grace” (Eph 1:7) God has lavished on us everything we need to be all He wants us to be.  He has “abounded toward us” with His grace, and His grace is sufficient.  As a matter of fact, “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Rom 5:20).  The wealth of His grace rises to meet every occasion.

* in all wisdom and prudence; *

“the last clause of verse 8 is the prepositional phrase ‘in all wisdom and insight.’ There are two questions: Does this phrase go (1) with what precedes or (2) with what follows? And does it refer (a) to God or (b) to believers?

The following schematic arrangement shows how the various translations and commentaries have understood the Greek:

1 a       ‘in all his wisdom and insight, God lavished on us’: NIV, JB   ‡

1 b       ‘God lavished on us all wisdom and insight’: NEB, TC, Phps, FrCl, TOB; Caragounis, Robinson, Abbott, Beare, Westcott, Salmond

2 a       ‘in all his wisdom and insight, God made known to us’: RSV, TEV, TNT, Brc, BrCL

2 b       ‘God gave us complete wisdom and insight into his secret plan’: Gdsp, GeCL, NAB.

As the chart shows, the commentators and most of the translators take the phrase to go with what precedes and refer it to the believers’ ‘wisdom and insight’” [UBS].

As you can see from the above notes there are various ideas as to who’s wisdom and prudence is mentioned here, and to rather this phrase is intended to be linked with God’s lavishing His grace on us (current verse), or God’s making known His will to us (Eph 1:9).  Which is true?

(1) Did God, by the blood of His Son, redeem us, forgiving our sins, by lavishing the wealth of His grace on us, thus fulfilling His eternal desire for us with all wisdom and insight?

(2) Did God, with great wisdom and insight, make known to us the mystery of His will?

(3) Did God, by the blood of His Son, redeem us, forgiving our sins, by lavishing the wealth of His grace on us, giving us the wisdom and insight necessary to submit to His will?

(4) Did God give us the wisdom and insight necessary to understand they mystery of His will?

Again, which is true?  Everyone of those statements is absolutely true, but which of them is being taught is this passage?  Take your pick!  Personally, I lean towards number three.

(Verse Eight of Chapter One in my own words.)

God has lavished us with His grace by giving us all the wisdom and insight necessary for us to accept His plan of redemption.

Ephesians 1:9

Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

* Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, *

Concerning “mystery,”

“What God has thus revealed has to do with his own will. It is not the mystery that is his will or originates from his will. It is the mystery concerning his will” [NIV].

“Both in Jewish apocalyptic literature and in the Qumran documents the word denotes the secret plan of God that will become apparent at the end of the age. But in the NT the unlocking of the mystery has now taken place in Christ and there is no need to wait till the last day in order to know what God’s strategy is (TDNT, 4:819-822). The extent to which Christian writers recognized Christ as the fulfillment of messianic hopes is indicated by this transference. ‘Made known’ (gnorisas) denotes what has already happened when Christ came in the flesh” [NIV].

“The mystery of the redemption in Christ, belonging to the eternal plan of God, could be known to men only through revelation-‘making known’” [Vincent].

God’s will from eternity past has been to redeem mankind through the sacrificial death of His Son (Eph 1:7), thus bringing salvation to both believing Jews and Gentiles (Eph 1:10).  This was a mystery to mankind until it was revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.

Though the eternal purposes of God are now revealed to us in the New Testament we still need God to give us “the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him” (Eph 1:17) so that the eyes of our understanding will be enlightened to the beautiful truths of God’s saving purposes for all who call upon Him (Eph 1:18).  Unless we allow God to open our eyes to these truths the teachings of man can blind us to them.  Imagine the joy of those who, though deeply religious, heard the Gospel for the first time through the teachings of Martin Luther.  Father in Heaven, help us to see clearly what You have accomplished for us in the person of Your Son, Jesus. Amen.

* according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: *

In regards to “good pleasure,”

“1a) good will, kindly intent, benevolence” [Thayer] (one of the definitions he gives for this word).

The Greek word translated “he hath purposed” in our current verse is the same word translated “hath set forth” in Paul’s letter to the Roman believers (Rom 3:25). Following are some comments on this Greek word:

“1) to place before, to set forth; 1a) to set forth to be looked at, expose to view; 1b) to expose to public view; 1b1) of the bodies of the dead; 1b2) to let lie in state; 2) to set before one’s self, propose to one’s self; 2a) to purpose, determine” [Thayer].

“Middle voice from G4253 and G5087; to place before, that is, (for oneself) to exhibit; (to oneself) to propose (determine)” [Strong’s].

“proetheto (NT:4388). Publicly, openly pro (NT:4253); correlated with ‘to declare.’ He brought Him forth and put Him before the public. Bengel, ‘placed before the eyes of all;’ unlike the ark of the covenant which was veiled and approached only by the high priest. The word is used by Herodotus of ‘exposing’ corpses (v., 8); by Thucydides of ‘exposing’ the bones of the dead (ii., 34)” [Vincent] (in his comments on Rom 3:25).

The “mystery of his will,” that mystery being that from an eternity past He determined to redeem all that placed their faith in the Lord Jesus, has now been “made known”; and it has now been known since the dawn of the Church Age.  This redemptive plan of God was the result of “his good pleasure,” and the revealing of that plan was in the public manner in which He gave His Son, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev 13:8), as a sin offering, to take “away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

This plan had been hidden from angels and man until God revealed it in the death of His Son.  God is now in the process of 1) calling those He foreknew, those He predestinated “to be conformed to the image of his Son,” and 2) justifying those who come to Him (Rom 8:29-30).  As those verses show, He will then ultimately bring the process of our being “conformed to the image of his Son” to full completion through our being “glorified,” which will take place “when he shall appear,” because at that time “we shall be like him;” because “we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

(Verse Nine of Chapter One in my own words.)

He did this by revealing to us that it’s His will to redeem us.  That’s the mystery of His will (that was hidden from eternity past until the death of His Son).  His saving us is something that pleases Him tremendously.  (He wanted us to know how much He desires to save us so) He openly displayed His crucified Son before our very eyes (as a testimonial of that desire); the Son in Whom salvation dwells,

Ephesians 1:10

That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

* That in the dispensation of the fullness of times *

Concerning “dispensation,”

“dis-pen-sā´shun: The Greek word (oikonomı́a) so translated signifies primarily, a stewardship, the management or disposition of affairs entrusted to one. Thus 1 Cor 9:17, the King James Version ‘A dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me,’ the Revised Version (British and American) ‘I have stewardship entrusted to me.’ The idea is similar in Eph 3:2 parallel Col 1:25 (the Revised Version, margin ‘stewardship’). In Eph 1:10 God’s own working is spoken of as ‘dispensation’” [The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia].

(Gr. oikonomia, ‘management,’ ‘economy’).

(1.) The method or scheme according to which God carries out his purposes towards men is called a dispensation. There are usually reckoned three dispensations, the Patriarchal, the Mosaic or Jewish, and the Christian.

(2.) A commission to preach the gospel (1Cor 9:17; Eph 1:10; Eph 3:2; Col 1:25).

Dispensations of Providence are providential events which affect men either in the way of mercy or of judgment” [Easton’s Bible Dictionary].

“An arrangement of things; a scheme” [King James Dictionary].

“oikonomia NT:3622 primarily signifies ‘the management of a household or of household affairs’ (oikos, ‘a house,’ nomos, ‘a law’); then the management or administration of the property of others, and so ‘a stewardship,’ Luke 16:2-4” [Vine].

The mystery of God’s will which had previously been hidden from mankind has now been set forth before us in the person of Jesus Christ, and in His death, burial, and resurrection (see my notes on the previous verse).  That mystery was that God had purposed from an eternity past to redeem Jewish and Gentile believers; and He was going to accomplish this in the sacrificing of His Son as a sin offering.  The carrying out of this important task God entrusted to Himself.  He would manage it to completion.

Regarding “the fullness of times,”

“Here the conception is of a series of epochs. The fullness of the times is the moment when the successive ages of the gospel dispensation are completed. The meaning of the whole phrase, then, is: a dispensation characterized: by the fullness of the times: set forth when the times are full” [Vincent].

“When the time is right” [Today’s English Version] God will bring to completion His eternal purposes for mankind.  The “fullness of times” began with the coming of Christ (His birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection); and it will continue throughout the remainder of life on this planet as we know it, or life that precedes eternity.  All time on earth that preceded Christ was an “epoch” of time that had to pass before God could reveal His Son, and in the revelation of His Son, reveal the “mystery of his will.”

* he might gather together in one all things in Christ, *

In regards to “he might gather together in one,”

“Greek, ‘sum up under one head’; ‘recapitulate.’ The ‘good pleasure which He purposed,’ was ‘to sum up all things (Greek, ‘THE whole range of things’) in Christ (Greek, ‘the Christ,’ that is, His Christ)’ [ALFORD]” [JFB].

“to bring everything together in terms of some unifying principle or person – ‘to bring together.’ ‘to bring everything together in Christ’ Eph 1:10; ‘it is brought together in this one statement, Love your neighbor as yourself’ Rom 13:9” [Louw and Nida Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament].

This Greek word is only used one other time in the New Testament, and is there translated “it is briefly comprehended” (Rom 13:9).  In the Roman passage Paul is saying that you can “sum up” all the commandments of the Law under the headship of this one saying, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”  In our Ephesian passage he’s saying that absolutely everything, everywhere, will be “summed up,” will find its completion and unity, under the headship of the one person, Jesus.

“The compounded preposition ana (NT:303) signifies ‘again,’ pointing back to a previous condition where no separation existed” [Vincent].

“‘All things.’ All created beings and things; not limited to intelligent beings. Compare Rom 8:21; 1 Cor 15:28” [Vincent].

Everything is going to come into unity with the eternal purpose of God at the conclusion of the “times.”  In eternity future there will be no disharmony in our universe.  Rebellion will be a thing of the distant past.  All that God has purposed to do, all that He is doing, and all that He will yet do, He has made possible through the person of His Son.  It’s “in Christ” that this restoration to unity will occur.

* both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: *

“God contemplates a regathering, ‘a restoration’ to that former condition when all things were in perfect unity, and normally combined to serve God’s ends. This unity was broken by the introduction of sin. Man’s fall involved the unintelligent creation (Rom 8:20). The mystery of God’s will includes the restoration of this unity in and through Christ; one kingdom on earth and in heaven-a new heaven and a new earth in which shall dwell righteousness, and ‘the creation shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God?’” [Vincent].

All of creation, which because of the sin of Adam “was made subject to vanity,” and that “not willingly” (Rom 8:20), is currently eagerly waiting “for the manifestation of the sons of God” (Rom 8:19).  Why?  At that time, when our redemption is complete, and our bodies are redeemed (Rom 8:23), and “we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2), then God’s full intention for His children will be seen, and all of creation “shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God”(Rom 8:21) along with us.  Is it any wonder then that at this time “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Rom 8:22)?

Kevin Fleming, a friend of mine, brought out an interesting point about this.  Though the idea of restoration is involved in this passage, we will not be restored to the original state of creation, that state of innocence in the Garden, but to the state of perfected knowledge (1 Cor. 13:12).  This knowledge will not be like the knowledge Adam and Eve attained through disobedience (Gen 3:4-5, 22), and consequently corrupted it, but it will be a knowledge that we receive as a result of God’s grace, and in accordance to His eternal purposes for us, and this knowledge will consequently draw us into deeper fellowship with God.  In that sense this restoration will actually be a restoration to perfect fellowship, but our end state, when we bear the image of the last Adam (1 Cor 15:45, 49) will be more glorious (more fully in the image of God) than our original state, when we bore the image the first Adam; and it will be more glorious than even the first Adam enjoyed.

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!  For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor” (Rom 11:33-34)?  Even through the filth of sin God has conquered!  Even  through the stench of our disobedience God will bring forth an end that is far superior to the beginning, an end that has always been in His mind.  He will accomplish all this through His Son.

(Verse Ten of Chapter One in my own words.)

So that as He personally manages the times He ordained to fulfill His purposes He might restore everything to its original state of perfect unity in Christ; absolutely everything in Heaven and on earth will be restored in the Lord Jesus.

Ephesians 1:11

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

* In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, *

Commentators and translators are divided as to the meaning of “we have obtained an inheritance.”

“The alternatives are: (a) passive for middle: ‘we have obtained an inheritance’ (KJV); (b) simple passive: ‘we were chosen by lot’ (Vul.. Syr., Gothic, Geneva, Rheims); (c) passive with implicit accusative: ‘we were made partakers of an inheritance’; and (d) passive in a special sense: ‘we were made a heritage’ (RV). If (b) is preferred (so NIV) the emphasis rests on choice rather than on ‘by lot,’ since it would be inappropriate to compare divine election with sortilege” [Zondervan].

Paul is either teaching us that in Christ “we have obtained an inheritance” [KJV], “we were also chosen” [NIV], or “we were made a heritage” [1901 ASV].  I enjoy this thought, “we have become gifts to God that he delights in” [TLB].

Basically it comes down to one of two ideas” 1) we are God’s inheritance in Christ; or 2) we have received an inheritance in Christ.  Which is true?  Certainly God promised His Son “the heathen” for an “inheritance” [Psalm 2:8], but He also said that we are heirs of God [Gal 3:29; 4:7], even “joint-heirs with Christ” [Rom 8:17].  Both ideas are true: we are God’s inheritance and we have received an inheritance.  Then which idea does Paul have in mind here?  The commentators and translators can’t agree, and since both possibilities are true I don’t think it to be of the greatest importance that you and I understand which the Apostle had in mind in this verse.  However, the above quoted notes go on to conclude,

“If eis to einai … (eis to einai …. ‘in order that [we] … might be’) in v. 12 is dependent on eklerothemen (‘we were chosen’), this meaning is substantiated (BAG, p. 436)” [Zondervan].

* being predestinated *

See my earlier notes (Eph 1:4-5).

* according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: *

Everything that God has pre-determined to do He has done in accordance with His Divine purpose.  Everyone God has chosen to receive into His family, counting them as His children, He has chosen in accordance with His Divine purpose.  God’s working out of “all things” that are a part of this Divine purpose in the very reason for which we have become “the called” (Rom 8:28).  Those things that God has purposed to do, and is therefore doing, are things that He determined to do as a result of their being “after the counsel of his own will.”

Concerning “the counsel of his own will:”

1) Jesus was “delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23).

2) Everything that “Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel” (Acts 4:27) did to God’s Son, those things that were “against the Lord, and against his Christ” (Acts 4:26), were only those things “whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done” (Acts 4:28).

3) God wants us to understand “the immutability of his counsel,” and so He “confirmed it by an oath” (Heb 6:17).

Thus far we conclude: we who God chose “before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4) “unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself” (Eph 1:5) have experienced His grace “freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” (Eph 1:6 NAS).  As a result “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Eph 1:7), which God brought about “in all wisdom and prudence” (Eph 1:8), and in the process has “made known unto us the mystery of his will” (Eph 1:9), which is the gathering “together in one all things in Christ” (Eph 1:10).  As a result “we have become gifts to God that he delights in” (current verse TLB).  All of this was done “according to the good pleasure of his will” (Eph 1:5), “his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself” (Eph 1:9), “according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (current verse).  He’s done these wonderful things “according to the riches of his grace” (Eph 1:7), and to “the praise of the glory of his grace” (Eph 1:6).

(Verse Eleven of Chapter One in my own words.)

In Jesus we have become God’s heritage, even as He predetermined we would, in accordance with His purpose.  He does everything that He does as a result of the counsel of His will.

Ephesians 1:12

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

* That we should be to the praise of his glory, *

God has “chosen us” so “that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Eph 1:4), He has adopted us as “children by Jesus Christ to himself” (Eph 1:5) so that we might be to “the praise of the glory of his grace” (Eph 1:6), and we “were made [God’s] heritage (portion) and we obtained an inheritance” (Eph 1:11 AMP) so that “we should be to the praise of his glory” (current verse).

Concerning this,

“the sense is, either that the praise of the glory of God, in his grace and goodness, might be discovered and made known unto the saints, as it is displayed in election, redemption, justification, pardon, adoption, regeneration, and eternal salvation; or that they should praise and glorify him on account of these things, by ascribing all to his grace, and nothing to themselves” [Gill].

By being the means of preaching Christ crucified to the Gentiles, and spreading the Gospel throughout the world” [Clarke].

There are two possibilities: 1) all that bear God’s name, in Heaven and earth, will praise God for what He has done for those who trust in Him, or, 2) we who trust in Him should praise God for all He has done for us.

* who first trusted in Christ. *

The phrase “who first trusted” is the translation of a single Greek word, “proelpizo.”

Regarding that Greek word,

“From G4253 and G1679; to hope in advance of other confirmation” [Strong’s].

Concerning Greek #4253,

“pro” [Thayer].

Concerning Greek #1679,

“1) to hope; 1a) in a religious sense, to wait for salvation with joy and full confidence; 2) hopefully to trust in” [Thayer].

Exactly who are the one “who first trusted in Christ”?

“It is probably best understood as meaning ‘before the conversion of the Gentiles’” [Zondervan ].

“Probably the reference is to those who like Paul had once been Jews and had now found the Messiah in Jesus, some of whom like Simeon and Anna had even looked for the spiritual Messiah before his coming” [Robertson].

“‘We’ refers to Jewish Christians, and the verb describes their messianic hope ‘before’ pro (NT:4253) the advent of Christ. Hence, the English Revised Version (1885), correctly, ‘we who had’ (have) ‘before hoped.’ ‘In Christ’ should the ‘in the Christ,’ as the subject of messianic expectation and not as ‘Jesus,’ for whom ‘Christ’ had passed into a proper name. It is equivalent to ‘in the Messiah’” [Vincent].

It seems clear that those “who first trusted in Christ” were Jewish believers in the Lord Jesus at the time of the writing of this Epistle.  What isn’t clear is rather the phrase “in Christ” refers to saving faith, as Robertson indicates, or to the expectation those Jewish believers previously had in the coming Messiah, as Vincent claims.  If the latter case is true, then the reference would be to those Jews who had expected the coming Messiah, then, even though He didn’t come in the manner they had expected, eventually recognized that He was the Messiah and received Him as their Lord and Savior.

However, in either case, there’s a distinct difference between the “we” of this verse, and the “ye” of the next.  There are two distinct categories of believers mentioned in these two verses.

Are those distinctions to be seen as:

1) the elect (Rom 11:7), believing Jews [those to whom the coming Messiah was promised, and who then, according to God’s elective purposes, placed their faith in Him].

2) believing Gentiles.

or rather:

1) those who first trusted in Christ, who just happened to be Jews.

2) all others who have since trusted in Christ, rather Jew or Gentile.

I’ll continue this discussion in my notes on the first part of the next verse.

(Verse Twelve of Chapter One in my own words.)

And as God’s heritage we who were the first to trust in Christ bring praise to His glory.

Ephesians 1:13

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

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

Concerning “ye,”

“Gentile Christians. Trusted, which is not in the Greek, is unnecessary. The pronoun ye is nominative to were sealed [Vincent].

All commentators that I look at agree that “ye” of our current verse is in contrast to “we” of the previous verse.  They also agree that “we” refers to the believing Jews, and that “ye” refers to the Gentiles who have now come to believe through the preaching of the Jewish believers.

Regarding “the word of truth,”

“It is the hearing of faith that brings salvation. The Ephesians had embraced ‘the word of truth’–i.e., the teaching that told them the truth because it was derived from the God of truth (4:21). The truth they needed to know was that they as Gentiles had a place in God’s redemptive plan (2 Cor 6:7; Col 1:5; James 1:18). This was good news indeed, and through accepting it they were liberated from bondage to sin” [Zondervan].

Jewish ministers (Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, etc.) traveled from city to city preaching the Gospel.  After hearing the Good News (Rom 10:17) many Gentiles placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, trusting Him to save them.  These Gentiles, who were at one time “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph 2:12), were now “fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (Eph 3:6).

* the gospel of your salvation: *

“the teaching that told them the truth because it was derived from the God of truth (Eph 4:21).  The truth they needed to know was that as Gentiles they had a place in God’s redemptive plan (2 Cor 6:7; Col 1:5; James 1:18). This was good news indeed and through accepting it they were liberated from bondage to sin” [Zondervan].

What is “the gospel,”

“2a) the glad tidings of the kingdom of God soon to be set up, and subsequently also of Jesus the Messiah, the founder of this kingdom. After the death of Christ, the term comprises also the preaching of (concerning) Jesus Christ as having suffered death on the cross to procure eternal salvation for the men in the kingdom of God, but as restored to life and exalted to the right hand of God in heaven, thence to return in majesty to consummate the kingdom of God” [Thayer].

The Gospel is the Good News about what the death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and soon return of the Lord Jesus Christ means to me, first as a sinner, and then as a believer.  As a sinner it meant that I could come to Jesus for salvation.  As a believer it means that I’m now acceptable to God as a result of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus; and He now sees me as “holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight” (Col 1:22) because “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

The Good News is that since we couldn’t do it God sent His Son to do it on our behalf.  We couldn’t get a perfect score on the test.  Anything less than a perfect score of one hundred is an “F” because “whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).  We have all received an “F” on our exams.  Thank God that Jesus scored an “A”!  Through our faith in the Lord Jesus our “life is hid with Christ in God” (Col 3:3), and God now sees us as “not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing,” but rather as being “holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:27).  We are safely hid in the One Who scored a perfect “A”!  God now sees us through the filter of His Son’s perfection.  Now that’s Good News!

* in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, *

In regards to “in whom also after that ye believed,”

“Literally, in whom also when you believed, you were sealed. This sealing did not take place as something subsequent to salvation but was simultaneous with salvation” [Wycliffe].

Concerning “ye were sealed with that holy Spirit,”

“A seal impressed on a document gives undoubted validity to the contract in it (John 3:33; John 6:27; compare 2 Cor 3:3). So the sense of ‘the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost’ (Rom 5:5), and the sense of adoption given through the Spirit at regeneration (Rom 8:15-16), assure believers of God’s good will to them. The Spirit, like a seal, impresses on the soul at regeneration the image of our Father. The ‘sealing’ by the Holy Spirit is spoken of as past once for all” [JFB].

“Marked and authenticated as God’s heritage” [Robertson].

Regarding “holy Spirit of promise,”

“Denoting the promise as characteristic of the Holy Spirit: the Spirit which was announced by promise” [Vincent].

When we place our faith in the Lord Jesus we are “sealed”!  God’s seal has been placed upon us.  We are recognizable in Heaven as the genuine article.  We belong to God.  Allow me to put in this way: we are holy by virtue of our being in His pile of stuff.  Just as the Jewish temple bore His name so do we!  We have been separated unto Him through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, and now all of Heaven recognizes the seal of God that identifies us as His.

The seal of God is also recognizable in this world, through our conduct.  Two verses later Paul seems to indicate that God’s seal in our lives is seen in our faith towards Him and our love towards one another.

NOTE: When faith happened, when the Ephesian Gentiles “believed,” rather as a result of God’s irresistible grace or their own free choice, they were “sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.”  Here’s the progression: God came “unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11), but “a remnant” did (Rom 9:27; 11:5); some of that remnant were the very first to believe (Eph 1:12); and they preached the Gospel to the Gentiles, some of whom were saved (current verse).  Does this progression give credence to Cremer’s remarks, as quoted by Wuest (see my notes on Eph 1:4)?  Or, does it lend support to my own remarks on that same verse?  Are God’s electing purposes to choose out those who He will use to do His will on earth, which in this dispensation is to save all who will come to Jesus?

(Verse Thirteen of Chapter One in my own words.)

And you also trusted in Christ after you heard the Good News that God has granted salvation to you gentiles, which is the very word of truth.  At the very moment you believed in Christ you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 1:14

Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

* Which is the earnest of our inheritance *

Regarding “earnest,”

“money which in purchases is given as a pledge or downpayment that the full amount will subsequently be paid” [Thayer].

“The word is borrowed from the commercial world and means a deposit or first installment in hire purchase. It is a token payment assuring the vendor that the full amount will eventually follow. It can also be applied to an engagement ring (MM, p 79). Paul regards the Holy Spirit as the first installment of the Christian’s inheritance. At the end of the age God will redeem his pledge and open the treasuries of heaven to all who are his in Christ. Meanwhile, the Spirit gives us the assurance that these things will one day be ours” [Zondervan].

“literally it is not the Holy Spirit which guarantees that we shall receive what God has promised, but it is the fact that we possess the Spirit” [UBS].

The Holy Spirit which was promised to us, and Who now lives in us, and is the means by which God has placed His seal upon us (Eph 1:13), causing all in the spirit world to know that we are His people,  is also a down payment on all that God has predestined that we will inherit in Heaven, a guarantee that we’ll eventually receive all the rest (current verse).

* until the redemption of the purchased possession, *

Concerning “redemption,”

“a releasing effected by payment of ransom; redemption, deliverance; liberation procured by the payment of a ransom” [Thayer].

“From a compound of G575 and G3083; (the act) ransom in full, that is, (figuratively) riddance, or (specifically) Christian salvation[Strong’s].

God’s placing the Holy Spirit in our lives is His guarantee that He has paid in full the ransom required to redeem us, and that as a result of His redeeming us we will receive all that in entailed in that redemption, “to wit, the redemption of our body” (Rom 8:23), that glorious day when “we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

In regards to “purchased possession,”

“1) a preserving, a preservation; 2) possession, one’s own property; 3) an obtaining” [Thayer].

From G4046; acquisition (the act or the thing); by extension preservation[Strong’s].

The Greek word peripoiesis, here translated “purchased possession,” is only used four other times in the New Testament.  The Scriptures tell us that we haven’t been appointed to wrath, but “to OBTAIN salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:9); that we have been called by the Gospel “to THE OBTAINING of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:14); that we are “of them that believe to THE SAVING of the soul” (Heb 10:39); and that we are “A PECULIAR people” (1 Peter 2:9).  Consequently, we who are among the “purchased possession” are peculiar in the sense that we have been obtained by God “according to the good pleasure of his will” (Eph 1:5), “according to the riches of his grace” (Eph 1:7), and “according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself” (Eph 1:9); and He has obtained us for the purpose of receiving us into His family as His children.

God has obtained us so that we might obtain salvation (1 Thess. 5:9), so that we might obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is our becoming like Him (2 Thess. 2:14; Rom 8:29-30; 1 John 3:2), so that we might obtain our very souls (Heb 10:39), and so that as a people who have themselves been obtained by God we could show “forth the praises of him who hath called” us “out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

* unto the praise of his glory. *

“Construe with ye were sealed: Ye were sealed unto the redemption, etc.; setting forth God’s purpose as it contemplates man. Ye were sealed unto the praise of His glory; God’s purpose as it respects Himself.” [Vincent].

Everything that God has done, is doing, and will do, will always bring “praise to his glory,” which simply means that all the actions of God demonstrate the greatness of the Who He is because He does “all things well” (Mark 7:37)!

The Amplified Bible renders this verse: “That [Spirit] is the guarantee of our inheritance [the firstfruits, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage], in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring [complete] possession of it — to the praise of His glory.”

(Verse Fourteen of Chapter One in my own words.)

He is the down payment that guarantees to us that God will bring us into the full inheritance He has promised us when His redemptive plan is brought to its full conclusion.  At that time we will fully recognize the worth of God!

Ephesians 1:15

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

* Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, *

“This is one of the passages usually relied on by those who suppose that this Epistle was not written to the Ephesians. The argument is, that he writes to them as if they were strangers to him, and that it is not language such as would be used in addressing a people among whom he had spent three years” [Barnes]

Regarding “after I heard,”

“News had been brought to him in Rome about the continuing faith and love displayed by those whom he now addresses (cf. Philem 5). There is no need to assume that the reference is to their initial experience of Christ and that Paul therefore did not know them personall” [Zondervan].

Rather, or not, this Epistle was initially intended for the Ephesian believers is an argument I’ll leave to the theologians.  Certainly the overwhelming majority of the commentators that I have at my disposal believe this Epistle was written to the Ephesian Church, either for their private use, or as a circular Epistle that was to be circulated among the other churches.  One thing is for certain, someone had to bring the news about the faith of those written to, to Paul [he was in prison at the time this Epistle was written], the news the Holy Spirit used to prompt him to write this Epistle, rather that news concerned the initial salvation of the Ephesian believers, or their ongoing spiritual growth.  The news certainly could have referred to the ongoing spiritual growth of his readers, or it might even have referred to those who were new believers among them, believers the Apostle had never met.

I’m convinced that perseverance in the faith is an evidence of the genuineness of that faith, so if the news did concern the ongoing faith of those that had received Christ when the Apostle had originally brought the Gospel to Ephesus, then the fact that he received this report would have been a great reassurance to him of the genuineness of that faith.

The fact that his readers had trusted in Christ (Eph 1:13) was evidence that God had chosen them (Eph 1:4) to be His children (Eph 1:5); and as a result of His grace they had been redeemed and forgiven (Eph 1:7), they had been “sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Eph 1:13), and they would one day realize the fullness of the inheritance they now possessed in Christ (Eph 1:14).  Consequently, when Paul received the good news of their continuance in the faith it brought him great joy.

* and love unto all the saints, *

Concerning “love unto all the saints,”

“Lit., that which is toward all, etc. Love being omitted, this refers to faith: faith which displays its work and fruits toward fellow Christians.” [Vincent].

“The Textus Receptus has teen (NT:3588) agapeen (NT:26) (the love) before teen (NT:3588) supported by D G K L Syr., Lat., Copt., but ‘Aleph A B P Origen do not have the word agapeen (NT:26). It could have been omitted, but is probably not genuine [Robertson].

“Some very important Greek manuscripts have in verse 15 ‘your faith in the Lord Jesus and for all the saints’ (omitting the Greek expression for ‘the love’); this makes for a strange phrase in Greek, and it seems likely that the omission of ‘the love’ was accidental” [UBS].

However, assuming “love” belongs,

“Faith finds its focus in Christ and expresses itself in love to others. Such outgoing love is the evidence of genuine faith (Gal 5:6)” [Zondervan].

The two thoughts are: 1) Paul wrote, “I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints” [KJV]; 2) Paul wrote, I received “news of the faith in the Lord Jesus which is among you, and which you make clear to all the saints” [BBE].  Almost all translations of the New Testament that I have access to agree with the King James Version, and they translate this verse to be saying something similar to “love unto all the saints.”

I certainly don’t have a definitive answer to this question.  However, the concept of a believer’s “love unto all the saints” being a testimony to the genuineness of his faith is certainly consistent with the rest of Scripture (Mark 12:29-31; Rom 13:8-10; Gal 5:6; James 2:8-13; 1 John 3:14-19; 4:20-21).  Paul saw Christian love as paramount to true faith, as he demonstrated when he wrote the first few verses of the Love Chapter.  He taught that, in spite of whatever our claims to true faith might be, we are simply making noise (1 Cor 13:1), that we are spiritually “nothing” (1 Cor 13:2), and that nothing we do is of any value (1 Cor 13:3) when we don’t love people.

(Verse Fifteen of Chapter One in my own words.)

For this reason, I, after I received news of your (ongoing, maturing) faith in the Lord Jesus, and how you demonstrate your love toward all believers,

Ephesians 1:16

Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;

Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; *

The Apostle had already written that he, and his readers, which now include you and I, had been chosen “in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Eph 1:4); that we who were thus chosen were predestinated “unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself” (Eph 1:5); that “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Eph 1:7); and that after we believed we “were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Eph 1:13).  All these spiritual blessings that we have in Christ (Eph 1:3) are a result of the riches of His grace (Eph 1:7) that God freely gives us in His Son (Eph 1:6 – NIV); and He does it “according to the good pleasure of his will” (Eph 1:5) “which he hath purposed in himself” (Eph 1:9), because He “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph 1:11).  Now he writes, “after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints” (Eph 1:15); in other words, after I received a report that the fruit of salvation is evident among you, that you are genuinely among those God has chosen, I find myself constantly thanking God for what He’s doing in you, and continually praying that He’ll finish what He has started in your lives.

God gifts each of us in various ways so that together we can serve one another “for the common good” (1 Cor 12:7 – NIV), so that “the church may receive edifying” (1 Cor 14:5).  God, the Son, gives administrative/ministerial gifts to the body (1 Cor 12:5; Eph 4:7-12); God, the Spirit, gives spiritual gifts to the body (1 Cor 12:4, 7-11); and God, the Father, gives operational/motivational gifts to the body (1 Cor 6; Rom 12:3-8).  However, as wonderful as these giftings are, and as necessary as they are, spiritual fruit still trumps them in the area of importance (1 Cor 1:5-7; 3:1-3; 13:1-3; Gal 5:22-23; Eph 1:15).  “Faith” and “love” are the two keys words of the New Testament when it comes to the spiritual health of a believer.  Those exercising these two ingredients of the fruit of the Spirit have great spiritual potential; and consequently, Paul constantly prayed for them.

I wonder how many prayer lists include those believers whose “faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints” is evident?  We usually reserve our prayer lists for those who are sick, discouraged, facing decisions, facing financial problems, etc.  However, the believers whose faith and love were evident made it to the very top of Paul’s prayer list.  Maybe we could learn something from this Apostle.

(Verse Sixteen of Chapter One in my own words.)

Will never stop giving thanks to God for what He’s doing in your lives, and will constantly ask Him to continue what He’s begun in you,

Ephesians 1:17

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

* That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, *

Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, [Eph 1:3].

— even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ [Rom 15:6].

Blessed [be] God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, [2 Cor 1:3].

The LORD said unto my Lord, [Psalm 110:1; Matt 22:44; Luke 20:42; Acts 2:34].

— and the head of Christ is God [1 Cor 11:3].

NOTE: Jesus is both God and the Son of God!  He is Lord, and He is subject to His Lord!  Jehovah God, our God, is “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,” the very Jesus Who is also our God.

* the Father of glory, *

Regarding “Father of glory,”

“The Father to whom the glory belongs” [Vincent].

The God characterized by glory (the Shekinah, Heb 9:5) as in Acts 7:2; 1 Cor 2:8; 2 Cor 1:3; James 2:1.” [Robertson].

God, the Father, is the very “Father of glory” (current verse), the “King of glory” (Psalm 24:7, 10), and the “God of glory” (Psalm 29:3; Acts 7:2); and Jesus is the “Lord of glory” (1 Cor 2:8; James 2:1).

Concerning, “Lord of glory” (1 Cor 2:8),

“The Lord whose attribute is glory” [Vincent].

All that God is, His very essence, is glory!  The glory of God is the Who God is!  We were created in His image but we’ve all “come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23); or, we’ve all come short of the Who God is.  Jesus, the “Lord of glory,” on the other hand, is “the express image of his person” (Heb 1:3).  Consequently, when any one beheld Jesus they had “seen the Father” (John 14:9).  The Who the Father is was clearly seen in the Son, because the sinless One had not “come short of the glory of God.”

* may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation *

In regards to “the spirit,”

Spirit has not the article, but the reference is to the Holy Spirit” [Vincent].

The Revised Version does not refer this use of pneuma to the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal 6:1; Rom 8:15), but it is open to question if it is possible to obtain this wisdom and revelation apart from the Holy Spirit” [Robertson].

Regarding who “the spirit” refers to,

“It should be remembered, however, that here as elsewhere in the NT the interaction of the Holy Spirit and the responsive human pneuma is so close as not to be easily distinguishable” [Zondervan].

Concerning “wisdom,”

“‘Wisdom’ here is understanding of spiritual realities, God’s truth” [UBS].

Concerning “revelation,”

“apokalupsis (ap-ok-al’-oop-sis) From G601; disclosure[Strong’s].

Regarding G601,

“apokalupto (ap-ok-al-oop’-to) From G575 and G2572; to take off the cover, that is, disclose[Strong’s].

1) to uncover, lay open what has been veiled or covered up; 1a) disclose, make bare; 2) to make known, make manifest, disclose what before was unknown” [Thayer].

We get our word, apocalypse, from this word.  It’s the very word used to describe the revelation John received (Rev 1:1).

This is the Greek word translated “manifestation” when Paul speaks of the full revelation of what God has intended for all of us who trust Him (Rom 8:19).  This revelation is the event that all of creation “groaneth” in longing for (Rom 8:22), as we believers do as well (Rom 8:23).  It “doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2); and though we don’t have full revelation of it yet, we inwardly groan for it.  It’s the purifying hope of every believer (1 John 3:3)!  It’s the eternal purpose of God for our lives (Rom 8:29-30)!  Even though the full revelation of all that we will become won’t occur until we see Jesus as He is, God intends that we grow in this revelation “from glory to glory” (2 Cor 3:18); meaning, in “ever-increasing glory” [NIV].  As we can see in the just mentioned verse, this kind of life-altering revelation occurs in direct measure to the extent that we can see, or understand, “the glory of the Lord.”  To this end Paul prays that God will give us a spirit of revelation.  The more we see, or understand, the Who Jesus is, the more the Holy Spirit changes us “into the same image.”

* in the knowledge of him: *

Regarding the entire phrase, “may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him,”

“So ‘make you wise in spiritual things’ is one way of translating this; another way would be ‘make you wise in things of God.’ TEV has ‘make you wise and reveal God to you’” [UBS].

Concerning “in the knowledge of him,”

“The sphere in which they will receive God’s gift of wisdom and revelation. To know God is to be wise” [Vincent].

“Margin, ‘for the acknowledgment.’ That is, in order that you may more fully acknowledge him, or know him more intimately and thoroughly” [Barnes].

“All this is so that they may get to know God more completely. Epignosis is the fullness of knowledge acquired through personal acquaintance (Trench, pp. 268, 269)” [Zondervan].

Paul wrote his second Epistle to the Corinthians around the year A.D. 57 [JFB].  He wrote his Epistle to the Philippians around the year A.D. 63 [JFB], six years later. He wrote to the believers in Corinth that he had been “caught up to the third heaven” (2 Cor 12:2), that he had “heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Cor 12:4), and that such an experience could have caused him to “be exalted above measure” unless God had given him “a thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor 12:7).  He wrote to the Philippian believers that those things he had once considered profitable he now “counted loss for Christ” (Phil 3:7) so that he could “be found in him, not having” his “own righteousness” (Phil 3:9), and so that he “may know him” (Phil 3:10).  Fourteen years before writing his second Epistle to the Corinthians he had received tremendous revelation by being “caught up to the third heaven,” and six years after writing that Epistle he still cried out to “know him” better.  In other words, about twenty years after having the amazing experience of being “caught up to the third heaven,” and hearing “unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter,” he still possessed a strong desire to know God better.  Should we ever fall into the trap of thinking we know Him well enough?  A thousand times, “No!”

(Verse Seventeen of Chapter One in my own words.)

Praying that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, He Who is the Father of glory, may give you increasing wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Who He is, through the working of the Holy Spirit in your live,

Ephesians 1:18

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

* The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; *

Concerning “eyes,”

“the eye (literally or figuratively); by implication vision” [Strong’s].

Concerning “understanding,”

deep thought, properly the faculty (mind or its disposition), by implication its exercise” [Strong’s].

Rev., eyes of your heart. Lit., being enlightened as to the eyes of your heart,” and “Heart is not merely the seat of emotion, as in popular usage, but of thought and will.” [Vincent].

The overwhelming majority of the New Testament translations that I have at my disposal render it “heart,” with a few rendering it “mind,” and a very few others agreeing with the KJV, “understanding.”

When God gives someone “the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him” (Eph 1:17) it results in the “eyes of” that someone’s “understanding being enlightened” (current verse).  In other words, the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of God’s people to bring us the understanding we need to grow in our spiritual walk, the criteria being that we continue in His Word (John 8:31-32).

* that ye may know *

The Apostle heard about the faith and love of the Ephesian believers (Eph 1:15), prompting him to pray for them (Eph 1:16), asking God to give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him (Eph 1:17), by enlightening their minds (current verse) with spiritual revelation, so that they would come to know three particular things (current verse, next verse).  Our discussion of those three things follows.

* what is the hope of his calling, *

Regarding “hope,”

“From elpo which is a primary word (to anticipate, usually with pleasure); expectation (abstract or concrete) or confidence[Strong’s].

Concerning “calling,”

2) a call, invitation” [Thayer].

In regards to what the hope of our calling is,

“This is not spelled out in the context; in general terms it could be the final purpose of God’s saving activity through Christ. God’s ‘call’ is his invitation extended through Christ to all mankind to accept the destiny he has planned for all: reconciliation, salvation, sonship. So the phrase ‘the hope of his calling’ includes the following: God ‘calls’ people, this ‘call’ promises or produces hope in them, and this emotion of hope is directed toward something or someone.” [UBS].

I especially like the above comment, “it could be the final purpose of God’s saving activity through Christ.”  That’s what I believe Paul has in mind.  When speaking about the resurrection of the dead (Phil 3:11) Paul wrote, “I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:12).  He desired to “apprehend,” or, “take hold” [NIV] of the very thing that the Lord Jesus “took hold” of him for.  What was that?  The eternal, pre-determined plan of God for our lives is for us “to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom 8:29), or as John puts it, for us to become “like him” when we “see him as he is” (I John 3:2), which is the “hope” of the believer (I John 3:3), or, the very “hope of our calling” (current verse).  Our becoming “conformed to the image of his Son” is the very purpose for which we have been “apprehended of Christ Jesus.”  It is “the hope of our calling” (current verse)!

* and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, *

Concerning “the riches of the glory of his inheritance,”

“The compound genitive phrase ‘the wealth of the glory of his inheritance’ may be (a) the glorious wealth of his inheritance, or (b) the wealth of his glorious inheritance, or (c) his rich and glorious inheritance” [UBS].

Other versions render it,

“Then you will discover the glorious blessings that will be yours together with all of God’s people” [Contemporary English Version].

“how rich are the wonderful blessings he promises his people” [Good News Bible].

the glorious wealth that God’s people will inherit” [God’s Word].

“how rich are the wonderful blessings he promises his people” [Today’s English Version].

What exactly is, as UBS puts it, “(a) the glorious wealth of his inheritance, or (b) the wealth of his glorious inheritance, or (c) his rich and glorious inheritance”?  The wealth of the inheritance that God has for His children is more than mansions (John 14:2-3), more than the street of gold (Rev 21:21), more than having our tears wiped away (Rev 7:17; 21:4), all of which are amazingly wonderful things.  It’s more than being reunited with our departed loved ones (1 Thess 4:13-18), even though we all long for that day.  The wealth of this inheritance is that “we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2)!  That’s God’s eternal purpose for our lives (Rom 8:29)!  That’s the hope of the believer (1 John 3:3), which is the hope of glory (Col 1:27)!  This glory, the Who God is, will be revealed in us (Rom 8:18), which is the fulfillment of God’s eternal purpose to conform us to the image of His Son (Rom 8:29)!  Creation itself waits for this to happen (Rom 8:19), groaning for the arrival of that day (Rom 8:22); because then it will also be delivered from the corruption it has endured since the fall of man (Rom 8:20-21)!  We also groan for that day (Rom 8:23), the day when all that God intends for us will be fully manifested (Rom 8:19)!

None of us have the slightest idea of exactly what’s entailed with our becoming like Him, but it will be beyond anything we can imagine, “above all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20).  We will move out of the realm of time into timelessness, out of the realm of our three dimensions of space into the realm of who-knows-how-many dimensions of space.  When Paul wrote that he was “caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Cor 12:4) I’m convinced that he wasn’t saying that God told him he couldn’t reveal what he saw, but rather, it was beyond human ability for him to reveal it.  The laws of nature, as we know them, couldn’t explain “the third heaven” (2 Cor 12:2), because it existed in far more than three dimensions.  Therefore, it wasn’t “lawful for a man to utter,” or the laws of nature couldn’t explain it.  Becoming like Jesus is unimaginable to the who-we-are currently.  What a day that will be!

(Verse Eighteen of Chapter One in my own words.)

By shedding the light of His revelation truth into your hearts, causing you to see and understand the hope that He has called you to, the wealth and glorious nature of the inheritance He has prepared for His saints,

Ephesians 1:19

And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

* And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, *

Regarding “exceeding greatness,”

“Only Paul among the NT writers employs this term hyperballon. Literally, it suggests that the conception it is attached to is thrown over into another sphere altogether. This unimaginable potency is directed toward all who believe” [Zondervan].

Concerning “to us-ward who believe,” or “for us who believe” [NIV],

“If an object, is implied in the verb ‘to believe,’ it is probably Christ. It should be noticed that the Greek phrase ‘in (or, for) us,’ which TEV takes to mean at work in us, is taken by Phps to mean ‘available to us’ (also NEB ‘power open to us’). This is possible and could well be the meaning intended” [UBS].

Paul prays for all believers who have faith in God and love for the saints (Eph 1:15), asking God to give us “the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him” (Eph 1:17) so that we can fully understand the hope of the calling we have in him, and the wealth of the inheritance God has for us (Eph 1:18).  This hope and inheritance speak of the eternal purpose of God for us, that we be conformed to the image of Christ Jesus (Rom 8:29).  Our becoming like Him is the hope of our calling (1 John 3:2-3) and the very wealth of our inheritance.  This eternal purpose of God will reach its intended fulfillment in us because of the “exceeding greatness of his power” that’s at work in the process.

The power that God brings to bear on this process is inconceivable to us.  It operates in realms we know nothing about, at levels we can’t imagine.  It will “change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Phil 3:21), by calling “those things which be not as though they were” (Rom 4:17).  Our becoming like Him, when we see Him as He is, will entail our fully partaking “of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4), which implies a God-like character, a new “glorious body” that can exist in the realms it will “be fashioned” to exist in, and other things that we know absolutely nothing about at this time.  In our minds it’s a tall order for God to take what’s sown in “corruption,” “dishonour,” and “weakness,” and raise it in “incorruption,” “glory,” and “power;” and to raise a “spiritual body” out of what was sown a “natural body” (1 Cor 15:42-44).  However, God has limitless power at His disposal to accomplish this very thing, which is His will for us.

Here’s some other renderings of this portion of Scripture,

“I want you to know about the great and mighty power that God has for us followers” [Contemporary English Version].

“and his incomparably great power for us who believe” [NIV].

“and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe” [New Revised Standard Version].

Quoting from an above note regarding, “to us-ward who believe,”

is taken by Phps to mean ‘available to us’ (also NEB ‘power open to us’). This is possible and could well be the meaning intended” [UBS].

There are two possibilities here:

1) As my above notes conclude this great power is at work in us to fulfill God’s eternal purpose for us.

2) According to Phillips and NEB this great power is available to us in our daily walk with the Lord.

I believe both to be true, but Paul’s main emphasis is the faithfulness of God to the fulfillment of His purpose for our lives.

* according to the working of his mighty power, *

Concerning “mighty power,”

“The A.V. frequently impairs the force of a passage by combining into a single conception two words which represent distinct ideas; translating two nouns by an adjective and a noun. —. So here, mighty power, for strength of might. The idea is thus diluted, and the peculiar force and distinction of the separate words is measurably lost. Rev., correctly, working of the strength of His might. —. ‘Strength’ kratous (NT:2904) is used only of God, and denotes ‘relative and manifested’ power. ‘Might’ ischuos (NT:2479) is ‘indwelling’ strength. ‘Working’ energeian (NT:1753) is the active, efficient ‘manifestation’ of these. Hence, we have here God’s indwelling power, which inheres in the divine nature (strength); the relative quality or measure of this power (might); and the efficient exertion of the divine quality (working). The phrase, ‘according to the working of the strength,’ etc., is to be connected with ‘the exceeding greatness of His power.’ The magnitude of God’s power toward believers is known in the operation of the strength of His might” [Vincent].

Regarding “according to the working of his mighty power,”

“19 b-20. From here on (verses 19 b-23) the prayer on behalf of the readers is left behind, and the writer reflects on the nature of the power which is at work in those who believe in Christ” [UBS].

Paul now begins to explain “the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe,” the limitless power at work in us to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives.  This power is the outward working of “the strength of His might” (Rev) in the lives of His people, and is the same power that was manifested in the most important event in the history of mankind.  We’ll talk about that in the next verse.

(Verse Nineteen of Chapter One in my own words.)

And the unimaginable magnitude of His power that’s at work in us believers, in the very same way that the strength of His might

Ephesians 1:20

Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

* Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, *

Concerning “he wrought,”

“to be active, efficient[Strong’s].

“Perfect active indicative, ‘which he has wrought’” [Robertson].

NOTE: This is the same Greek word translated “of him who worketh” in an earlier verse (Eph 1:11).

The context speaks about “the exceeding greatness of his power” (Eph 1:19) that’s at work in us believers, which will fulfill the very thing we hope for in Christ, which is to realize the wealth of this inheritance that is ours in Him (Eph 1:18), which is our becoming like Him (see my notes on verse 18).  Verse 19 concludes by telling us that this power works in us to bring us to that event of our becoming like Christ in the very same way, or in the very same magnitude, in which it worked in another event.  That other event is revealed in this verse: it’s the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

The death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ are the most important events of human history; and yet, these things that together constitute the greatest victory of all time took place to bring about another event, that being the fulfillment of the eternal purpose of God for us, which is His determined purpose to conform us “to the image of his Son” (Rom 8:28).  Think about this: God sent His Son into our world to be born as an infant in a lowly stable, so that as a human He could perfectly obey the law of Moses on our behalf, so that He could die for our sins as the perfect sacrifice (without spot or blemish), so that after allowing wicked men to bury Him He could be resurrected the third day, and so that He could ascend back to the Father in great victory, all for the purpose of fulfilling all that His Father, “after the counsel of his own will” (Eph 1:11), determined necessary to affect His will in the lives of all who would come to know Him.  Amazingly, that’s how determined God is to have you and I spend eternity with Him.  Or, as one songwriter put it, “Oh, how He loves you and me” {Words and Music by Kurt Kaiser; © 1975 – All Rights Reserved}!

* and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, *

Regarding “set him at his own right hand,”

“Christ being seated at the right side of God is not simply a gesture of hospitality but indicates honor and power” [UBS].

which is expressive of the great honour conferred upon the human nature of Christ, such as never was given to any of the angels, and of the glory it is exalted to; and shows that he has done his work on earth with acceptance, which he came about; and therefore is set down at his Father’s right hand” [Gill].

Jesus, when He was about to ascend to the Father, said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt 28:18).  Having fulfilled His Father’s will to perfection He returned to His natural place of honor, seated on the right side of His Father.  However, this time He wasn’t just eternal God, He Who was always with His Father (John 1:1-3); but He was now the God-Man, Who in His resurrected body was now sitting next to His Father in “the heavenly places” (current verse).

Concerning “in the heavenly places,”

“As Christ has a literal body, heaven is not merely a state, but a place; and where He is, there His people shall be (John 14:3)” [JFB].

“Not merely of a spiritual state, which does not suit the local expressions made to sit and right hand[Vincent].

(Verse Twenty of Chapter One in my own words.)

Was exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and then seated Him at His own right hand, (that place of ultimate honor and power), in the eternal realm of heaven,

Ephesians 1:21

Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:

* Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, *

In regards to “Far above,”

“The general sense in this verse is, that the Lord Jesus was exalted to the highest conceivable dignity and honor” [Barnes].

Concerning “principality,”

“1) beginning, origin; 2) the person or thing that commences, the first person or thing in a series, the leader; 3) that by which anything begins to be, the origin, the active cause; 4) the extremity of a thing; 4a) of the corners of a sail; 5) the first place, principality, rule, magistracy; 5a) of angels and demons[Thayer] (emphasis mine).

Regarding “power,”

“4) the power of rule or government (the power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed)” [Thayer].

In regards to “might,”

“1) strength power, ability; 1a) inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth” [Thayer].

Concerning “dominion,”

“1) dominion, power, lordship; 2) in the NT: one who possesses dominion” [Thayer].

The Lord Jesus Christ created all principalities and powers, as well as every creature of might and every creature of dominion (Col 1:15-16; John 1:1-3).  Some are spiritual entities; some are human.  Among the spiritual entities many are good (Eph 3:10); many are evil (Eph 6:12).  They are all subject to Him (1 Pet 3:22), both spiritual and human.

“For WE WRESTLE not against flesh and blood, but AGAINST PRINCIPALITIES, AGAINST POWERS, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph 6:12; emphasis mine).  Jesus is seated far above the very spiritual forces that we wrestle against!  His authority is far greater than any authority they might have!  AND IT GETS EVEN BETTER!  You and I are seated “together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6)!  Did you get that?  YOU AND I ARE SEATED IN CHRIST, FAR ABOVE THE VERY FORCES WE WRESTLE AGAINST! No wonder the Apostle Paul wrote, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31)!  No wonder he stated, “we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Rom 8:37)!

* and every name that is named, *

Salvation can only be found in Jesus because “there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  God has exalted the name of Jesus to the position where it’s “a name which is above every name” (Phil 2:9).  His purpose for exalting that name is so that “every knee should bow” (Phil 2:10) and “every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11).  The name of Jesus is exalted over every other name in honor, and in authority; whether those other names speak “of things in heaven,” or “things in earth,” or “things under the earth” (Phil 2:10).

Concerning “of things in heaven, — things in earth, — things under the earth,”

“It is not necessary to identify these rational beings exclusively as ‘spirits.’ It is quite possible that beings in heaven refers to the angels, and those on earth to human beings. The world below refers most likely to the residence of the dead known as Hades. Its equivalent in the Old Testament is Sheol” [UBS].

Jesus is not only seated far “above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion,” but He’s also seated far above “every name that is named,” rather it’s the name of a title or the name of an individual entity.  All creatures, spiritual or human, are subservient to Him except the Father (1 Cor 15:27).  We are safe in the hands of this One “with whom we have to do” (Heb 4:13).

* not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: *

Regarding “in this world,”

“Greek, ‘age,’ that is, the present order of things. ‘Things present . . . things to come’ (Rom 8:38)” [JFB].

Concerning “that which is to come,”

“The world to come is so styled, not because it does not yet exist, but because it is not yet visible” [John Wesley].

In regards to the entire above phrase,

“The whole phrase is meant to say, quite succinctly, “in every time and place”: nowhere at any time will there be any power greater than that which belongs to the exalted Christ” [UBS].

Now and forevermore the name of Jesus is exalted over every name.  All others, with the lone exception of His Father, are subservient to Him.  There is no current power that can resist the eternal purposes of God, nor will there ever be such a power.  God has always been in charge, is currently in charge, and will always be in charge.  One day, in the reality “which is to come” we will join the voices “of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God” (Rev 19:1) because He is worthy “to receive glory and honour and power” (Rev 4:11).  May we even now begin!

(Verse Twenty-One of Chapter One in my own words.)

Far above, (in authority and honor), all that rule, all that govern, all that are strong, and all who possess power, as well as having a name that’s far above every name this world has ever known, and every name that will be ever be named in eternity to come.

Ephesians 1:22

And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

* And hath put all things under his feet, *

Regarding “hath put,”

“The verb hypotasso refers not only to the supremacy of Christ but also to the subjection of all things to him.” [Zondervan].

“1) to arrange under, to subordinate; 2) to subject, put in subjection” [Thayer].

Here the Apostle quotes Psalm 8:7, “Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all [things] under his feet:”

Since our Lord Jesus has been seated far “above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named” (Eph 1:21) it stands to reason that “all things” are “under his feet” (current verse).

In the above quoted verse the Psalmist is speaking concerning God giving man dominion over all living things on this earth (Gen 1:26-28).  However, the Book of Hebrews tells us, in regards to Psalm 8:4-8, that at this time, “we see not yet all things put under him” (Heb 2:8), but “we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour” (Heb 2:9).

Concerning this,

“Psalm 8:6 (LXX) is clearly in his mind (cf. Heb 2:8). The Psalmist affirms man’s dominion on earth. Here Paul claims that Christ, as God’s new man, has universal dominion. Man largely forfeited his status through sin but through Christ as the ideal man he is restored to his proper dignity” [Zondervan].

Adam, before sin, had dominion over everything in his world, the Garden of Eden.  After he sinned he lost some of that dominion.  Again, as stated above, at this time, not everything is under the authority of man (Hebrews 2:8), but in saying that everything isn’t under the authority of man it’s understood that some things are.  Man is in control of certain things, but not everything.  But “we see Jesus”!  He Who has no sin is in control of absolutely all things.  The “last Adam” (1 Cor 15:45) has reclaimed all that the “first man Adam” (also 1 Cor 15:45) has lost.  He has been exalted above all (Eph 1:21), causing all to become subject to Him (current verse).

* and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, *

In regards to this phrase,

“The Greek order is emphatic: ‘HIM He gave as Head over all things to the Church’” [JFB].

Following are some other translations of this phrase:

“appointed him to be head over everything for the church” [NIV].

“he gave him this authority for the benefit of the church” [NLT].

“made him the supreme Head of the Church” [TLB].

“gave him to the church as supreme Lord over all things” [TEV].

for the good of the church he has made him the head of everything” [CEV].

The fact that Jesus is far above all other authority, and the fact that all things are subject to Him, benefits all who are “in Him.”  In the same way, the sin of Adam, and his subsequent loss of authority over all things, adversely affects all who are in him.  We were born into “the first man Adam” when we were born physically; we were born into Jesus, “the last Adam,” when we were born again spiritually.  Because we are still physical creatures we still suffer some of, but not all of (for example: we are no longer spiritually dead), the adverse conditions of his sin.  However, because we have now been born spiritually we benefit from the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

His exaltation is for His benefit (Phil. 2:5-11), as well as for the benefit of the church (current verse).  HE IS EXALTED!

(Verse Twenty-Two of Chapter One in my own words.)

God has placed everything under the feet (authority) of Jesus.  He made Jesus the head over everything for the benefit of His Church, and gave Him as a gift to the Church.

Ephesians 1:23

Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

* Which is his body, *

In regards to this,

“The double relative is explanatory, seeing it is: by which I mean. Body, a living organism of which He is the head” [Vincent].

His mystical and spiritual, not literal, body. Not, however, merely figurative, or metaphorical. He is really, though spiritually, the Church’s Head. His life is her life” [JFB].

The figure stresses the close, organic, living relationship between Christ and his people. It is not simply a functional, an official relationship, like that of a president to a business organization or of a chairman to a committee, but a relationship of a common life, a mutual, interdependent existence. Of course there is no idea of equality: Christ is the head and the church is subordinate to him” [UBS].

The church is not an institution but an organism. It exists and functions only by reason of its vital relationship with the risen Lord who is its Head. This picture of the church as a body deriving life and power from its Head is developed only in Colossians and Ephesians. In Paul’s earlier letters the church is regarded as a body because its members are coordinated in a common function: the place of Christ as the head is not stressed (Rom 12:4, 5; 1Cor 10:17; 12:22-27; but cf. 1Cor 11:3)” [Zondervan].

I quoted these four commentators so you can see the various thoughts they have on the body of Christ.  We’re not merely His body in a “figurative, or metaphorical” sense, but rather we’re, in fact, His “mystical and spiritual” body (JFB).  As His body we’re a “living organism of which He is the head” (Vincent).  We have a “living relationship” with Christ, one that constitutes a “common life, a mutual, interdependent existence” (UBS).  This church “exists and functions only by reason of its vital relationship with the risen Lord” (Zondervan).  Spiritually speaking we are in every way His body.

* the fulness of him that filleth all in all. *

Concerning “fullness,”

1) that which is (has been) filled; 1a) a ship inasmuch as it is filled (i.e. manned) with sailors, rowers, and soldiers; 1b) in the NT, the body of believers, as that which is filled with the presence, power, agency, riches of God and of Christ; 2) that which fills or with which a thing is filled; 2a) of those things which a ship is filled, freight and merchandise, sailors, oarsmen, soldiers; 2a) of those things which a ship is filled, freight and merchandise, sailors, oarsmen, soldiers; 2b) completeness or fulness of time; 3) fulness, abundance; 4) a fulfilling, keeping” [Thayer].

Commentators disagree on the meaning of this phrase.  Some believe it to be telling us that, in some way, Christ is made complete by the church.

“Here the relation of the church to Christ is advanced even more; it is not simply one of relative degree of importance and power (Christ the head, the church the body), but in a bold figure of speech the church is seen as an indispensable part of Christ without which he is not complete. So to speak, the writer says that apart from the church there is no Christ in the fullest meaning of the concept. As Robinson says: “in some mysterious sense the Church is that without which the Christ is not complete, but with which He is or will be complete.” Or as Abbott says: “When Christ is called Head, the figure implies that however complete He is in Himself, yet as Head he is not complete without His body” [UBS].

Many struggle with such an idea.

“Is Paul saying here that Christ is in some sense made more complete by the church? Robinson paraphrases: “so that Christ may have no part lacking, but may be wholly completed and fulfilled” (p. 250). But is Christ in any sense incomplete? To make the church essential to the full being of Christ is to reverse the true relationship. The NT regards Christ as essential to the full being of the church, not vice versa” [Zondervan].

Other commentators believe this phrase to be telling us that the church is a receptacle that is filled up with Christ.

‘the filled-up receptacle’ [EADIE]. The Church is dwelt in and filled by Christ. She is the receptacle, not of His inherent, but of His communicated, plenitude of gifts and graces” [JFB].

Regarding the first opinion, He Who is, and was, and always will be obedient learned “obedience by the things which he suffered” (Heb 5:8), and He Who is, and was, and always will be perfect was “made perfect” (Heb 5:9) in the sense of His becoming the perfect sacrificial Lamb His Father sent Him to be as a result of His perfect obedience.  If, then, there was a sense in which the perfect One was “made perfect” as a result of His learning “obedience by the things which he suffered,” then isn’t it also possible that the One Who is, and was, and always will be complete was, in the sense of His fulfilling the call of His Father on His life, that call being to redeem the “whosoever will”s (Rev 22:17) of this world, was made complete by the very church He came to redeem?

Regarding the second opinion, there can be no doubt that the church is, in every way, made complete, or filled up, by Christ (John 1:16; Col 3:10).

I’ll leave it to those who are experts in New Testament Greek to argue which opinion is the correct one.

That being said, I wonder if Paul is simply saying that the church, made up of its many members, when it functions as it should, has the full measure of Christ distributed in those various members.  In other words, the Who Christ is can be found distributed among the many members of His body, the church.  No one single member of the church has “the fullness” of Christ, but the corporate body does.  Though the church certainly doesn’t walk in the “fullness” of Christ, I believe He has fully filled her with Himself.

(Verse Twenty-Three of Chapter One in my own words.)

His church is His body, and the full revelation of the One Who fills everything can be seen in the members of that church.



Walk of Grace Chapel, Council Bluffs Church