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CHAP. I. 3-14.
IN this section St. Paul thanks God for his grace and bounty to the gentiles, wherein he so sets forth both God's gracious purpose of bringing the gentiles into his kingdom under the Messiah, and his actual bestowing on them blessings of all kinds, in Jesus Christ, for a complete re-instating them in that his heavenly kingdom, that there could be nothing stronger suggested to make the ephesians, and other gentile converts, not to think any more of the law, and that much inferiour kingdom of his, established upon the mosaical institution, and adapted to a little canton of the earth, and a small tribe of men; as now necessary to be retained under this more spiritual institution, and celestial kingdom, erected under Jesus Christ, intended to comprehend men of all nations, and extend itself to the utmost bounds of the earth, for the greater honour of God, or, as St. Paul speaks, "to the praise of the glory of God."
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:
3 Blessed and magnified be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has, in and by Jesus Christ', furnished us gentiles with all sorts of blessings, that may fit us to be
3 a 'Ev Xpir," in Christ," I take to be put here emphatically, and to signify the same with, "filleth all in all," v. 23, which is more fully explained, Col. iii. 11, "where there is neither greek, nor jew, circumcision nor uncircum❝cision, barbarian, scythian, bond, nor free, but Christ is all, and in all."
"Us." The right understanding of this section, and indeed of this whole epistle, depends very much on understanding aright, who are more especially comprehended under the terms, "us" and "we," from ver. 3, to 12. For "us," must signify either, 1. St. Paul himself personally; but that the visible tenour of the discourse at first sight plainly destroys: besides, it suits not St.
Paul's modesty to attribute so much in particular to himself, as is spoke of "us" and "we," in this section; or if we could think he would give himself that liberty; yet ver. 12 overturns it all; for hμãs rous æponλwixóraç, “we who first "trusted in Christ,' can by no means be admitted to be spoken by St. Paul personally of himself. Add to this, that in this very chapter, no farther off than ver. 15, St. Paul, speaking of himself, says, “ I," in the singular number; and so he does, chap. iii. ver. 7, 8. Or,
2. It must signify believers in general; but that @ponλwzóras, joined to it, will not admit, for we, the first believers, cannot signify we all that are believers, but restrains the persons to some sort of men, that then began to believe, i. e. the gentiles: and then the next words, ver. 13, have an easy and natural connexion; we other gentiles, who first believed in Christ, in whom also ye, the gentiles also of Ephesus, after ye heard, believed. Or,
3. It must signify the convert jews. But would it not be somewhat preposterous for St. Paul so much to magnify God's goodness and bounty to the jews in particular, in an epistle writ to a church of converted gentiles: wherein he addresses himself to the gentiles, in contra-distinction to the jews, and tells them they were to be made co-partners with them in the kingdom of the Messiah, which was opened to them by abolishing of the law of Moses, intimated plainly in this very section, ver. 7-10. Wherein he magnifies the riches of the favour of God, to the persons he is speaking of, under the denomination "us," in gathering again all things, i. e. men of all sorts, under Christ the head, which could not mean the jews alone: but of this he speaks more openly afterwards. Farther, "we" here, and "we," chap. ii. 3, must be the same, and denote the same persons; but the "we," chap. ii. 3, can neither be St. Paul alone, nor believers in general, nor jewish converts in particular, as the obvious sense of the place demonstrates: for neither St. Paul can be called, "we all;" nor is it true that all the convert jews had their conversation among the gentiles, as our bible renders the greek; which, if otherwise to be understood, is more directly against signifying the jews. These, therefore, being excluded from being meant by "we" andus," here, who can remain to be signified thereby, but the convert gentiles in general? That St. Paul, who was the apostle of the gentiles, did often, in an obliging manner, join himself with the gentile converts under the terms us and we, as if he had been one of them, there are so many instances, that it cannot seem strange that he should do so in this section; as Rom. v. 1-11, where it is plain all along, under the term "us," he speaks of the gentile converts. And many other passages might be brought out of this epistle to evince it ; chap. i. 11, he saith, we have obtained an inheritance." Those we, it is plain, chap. iii. 6, were gentiles. So chap. ii. 5, "when we," i. e. converts of the gentiles, "were dead in sins:" for I do not remember that the jews are any where said, by St. Paul, to be dead in sins; that is one of the distinguishing characters of the gentiles: and there we see, in the same verse, "we" is changed into "ye:" and so ver. 6 and 7, having spoke of the gentiles in the first person, "us," in the beginning of the next verse it is changed into "ye," i. e. "ye "ephesians," a part of those gentiles. To this I shall add one place more, out of the parallel epistle to the colossians, chap. i. 12, 13, where he uses ãs, us, for the convert gentiles, changing the " ye," in the 10th verse, to " us," in the 12th: the matter of giving thanks being the same, all along from ver. S, where it begins, and is repeated here again, ver. 12, i. e. the removing of the gentiles, out of the kingdom of the devil and darkness, into the kingdom of his beloved son: or, as he expresses it, Eph. i. 6, "Wherein he hath made us ac "cepted in the beloved." And in the same sense he uses us, "us," Col. ii. 14. For those, that the hand-writing of ordinances was against, and contrary to, were the gentiles, as he declares, Eph. ii. 14, 15, who were kept off from coming to be the people of God, by those ordinances, which were that, wherein the
4 According as he hath chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love:
partakers of his heavenly kingdom, without need of any 4 assistance from the law, According as he chose us gentiles, upon Christ's account alone, before the law was, even before the foundation of the world, to be his people under Jesus the Messiah, and to live unblameable lives before him, in all love and affection, to all the saints, or
enmity between the jews and gentiles consisted, and was kept up; which, therefore, Christ abolished, to make way for their union into one body, under Christ their head. Other passages, tending to the clearing of this, we shall have occa sion to take notice of, as they occur in the sequel of this epistle.
4 'Ey aura," in him," i. e. Christ: in the former verse it is hoynoas ἡμᾶς ἐν πάσῃ εὐλογείᾳ ἐν Χρισῶ. Καθῶς ἐξελέξατο ἡμᾶς ἐν αὐτῷ. All which together make up this sense:" as it was in consideration of Christ alone, that "God heretofore, before the foundation of the world, designed us gentiles to be his people; so now the Messiah is come, all the blessings and benefits, we are to receive in his heavenly kingdom, are laid up in him, and to be had only by our faith and dependence on him, without any respect to the law, or any ❝ other consideration."
d'Ayol, “saints," in St. Paul's epistles is known to signify christians, i.ė. such as made profession of the gospel, for those were now the people of God.
See in Col. i. 22, this verse explained, where comparing it with the immediately preceding words, ver. 21, one may find a farther reason to take " here, to signify the gentile converts, the same thing being applied there solely to the gentile converts of Colosse.
f" Affection to all the saints." That this is the meaning, may be seen, ver. 15, where to their true faith in Christ, which he was rejoiced with, he joined τὴν ἀγάπην τὴν εἰς πάντας τὰς ἁγίας, “ love unto all the saints.” The very same thing, which he takes notice of in the colossians, in the very same words, Col. i. 4. Why love is so often mentioned in this epistle, as chap. iii. 18, and iv. 2, 15, 16, and v. 2, and vi. 23, we may find a reason, chap. ii. 11—22, wherein there is an account given of the enmity between the jews and gentiles, which Christ had taken away the cause of; and, therefore, the ceasing of it was one great mark of men's being right in the faith, and of their having true and worthy notions of Christ, who had broke down the wall of partition, and opened the kingdom of heaven to all equally, who believed in him, without any the least distinction of nation, blood, profession, or religion, that they were of before, all that being now done away, and superseded by the prince of peace, Jesus Christ the righteous, to make way for a more enlarged and glorious kingdom, solely by faith in him, which now made the only distinction among men; so that all, who agreed in that, were thereby brought to the saine level, to be all brethren and fellow-members in Christ, and the people, or sons of God, as he says in the
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ, to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
5 believers, of what nation soever; Having predetermined to take us gentiles, by Jesus Christ, to be his sons and 6 people, according to the good pleasure of his will'. To the end that the gentiles too might praise him for his grace." and mercy to them, and all mankind magnify his glory for his abundant goodness to them, by receiving them freely into the kingdom of the Messiah, to be his people again, in a state of peace with him, barely for the sake'
5 It was not by the observances of the law, but by faith alone in Jesus Christ, that God pre-determined to take the gentiles into the state of sonship, or adoption. This was another particular for which St. Paul blesses God, in the name of the gentiles: the consideration whereof was fit to raise the ephesians thoughts above the law, and keep them firm in adherence to the liberty of the gospel.
haia, "adoption," or " sonship," belonged only to the jews, before the coming of the Messiah, Rom. ix. 4. For after the nations of the earth had revolted from God, their Lord and Maker, and become servants and worshippers of the devil, God abandoned them to the vassalage they had chosen, and owned none of them for his, but the israelites, whom he had adopted to be his children and people. See Exod. iv. 22, Jer. xxxi. 9, Luke i. 54. Which adoption is expressed to Abraham in these words, Gen. xvii. 7, " I will be a "God to thee, and to thy seed after thee;" and to the israelites, Exod. vi. 7, "I will take you to me for a people, and I will be your God; and so Lev. xxvi. 12, "I will walk amongst you, and be your God, and ye shall be my "people" and so we see that those whom, Exod. iv. he calls his sons, he calls, in several other places, his people, as standing both, when spoken nationally, for one and the same thing.
"According to the good pleasure of his will:" spoken here in the same sense with what is said Rom. ix. 18, 23, 24. God, under the law, took the nation of Israel to be his people, without any merit in them; and so it is of his mere good pleasure, that he even then purposed to enlarge his kingdom, under the gospel, by admitting all, that of all the nations whatsoever would come in and submit themselves, not to the law of Moses, but to the rule and dominion of his son Jesus Christ; and this, as he says in the next words, "for the praise of the glory of his grace."
6k See chap. ii. 12-14, Acts xv. 14, &c.
I do not think, that any thing of greater force can be imagined, to raise the minds of the ephesians, above the jewish rituals, and keep them steady in the freedom of the gospel, than what St. Paul says here, viz. that God, before the foundation of the world, freely determined within himself to admit the gentiles into his kingdom, to be his people, for the manifestation of his free grace, all the
7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of his grace;
8 Wherein he hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence, ⚫
9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself:
7 of him, that is his beloved: In whom we have redemption by his blood, viz. the forgiveness of transgressions, 8 according to the greatness of his grace and favour, Which he has overflowed in towards us, in bestowing on us so full a knowledge and comprehension of the extent and design of the gospel", and prudence to comply with it, as 9 it becomes you°; In that he hath made known to you the good pleasure of his will and purpose, which was a mys
world over, that all nations might glorify him: and this for the sake of his son Jesus Christ, who was his beloved, and was so chiefly regarded in all this; and therefore it was to mistake, or pervert, the end of the gospel, and debase this glorious dispensation, to make it subservient to the jewish ritual, or to suppose that the law of Moses was to support, or to be supported, by the kingdom of the Messiah, which was to be of a larger extent, and settled upon another foundation, whereof the mosaical institution was but a narrow, faint, and typical representation.
7 m "We" does as plainly here stand for the gentile converts, as it is manifest it does in the parallel place, Col. i. 13, 14.
8 That by aon copia St. Paul means a comprehension of the revealed will of God in the gospel, more particularly the mystery of God's purpose of calling the gentiles, and taking out of them a people and inheritance to himself in his kingdom, under the Messiah, may be perceived by reading and comparing chap. i. 8, Col. i. 9, 10, 28, and ii. 2, 3, which verses, read with attention to the context, plainly show what St. Paul means here.
That this is the meaning of this verse, I refer my reader to Col. i. 9, 10. 9 p I cannot think that God's purpose of calling the gentiles, so often termed a mystery, and so emphatically declared to be concealed from ages, and particu larly revealed to himself; and as we find, in this epistle, where it is so called by St. Paul five times, and four times in that to the colossians; is by chance, or without some particular reason. The question was "whether the converted gentiles should hearken to the jews, who would persuade them it was neces"sary for them to submit to circumcision and the law, or to St. Paul, who had taught them otherwise." Now there could be nothing of more force to destroy the authority of the jews, in the case, than the showing them, that the jews knew nothing of the matter, that it was a perfect mystery to them, concealed from their knowledge, and made manifest in God's good time, at the coming of the Messiah, and most particularly discovered to St. Paul, by immediate revelation, to be communicated by him to the gentiles; who, therefore, had reason to