The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Ephesians 1

Eph 1:1

See Lesson, Paul the man.

See Lesson, Paul's ecclesial letters.

See Lesson, Eph, overview.

The seven signs of a believer in Paul's letter to the Ephesians:
1. The unity of the Spirit -- itself seven pillars (Eph 4:4-6);
2. The work of the ministry (Eph 4:11,12);
3. Walking in love and light (Eph 5:1,2,8);
4. Submissive wives and loving husbands (Eph 5:27-33);
5. Obedient children and caring fathers Eph 6:1-4);
6. Faithful servants and kind masters (Eph 6:5-9); and
7. The whole armor of God -- seven-fold (Eph 6:13-18).

The ecclesia as a temple (Eph 2:21,22), a body (Eph 1:22,23; 4:15), a bride (Eph 5:25-32). Divine indwelling, mutual cooperation, and submissive loyalty.

The ecclesia: its origin (Eph 1), its construction (Eph 2), and its function (Eph 3).

AN APOSTLE: Gal 1:15-17.

THE SAINTS: Gr "hagios", the holy ones! (Always appears in the plural in the NT: no individual is spoken of as a "saint", singular; but all believers are "saints", collectively, in Christ!) As God "set apart" or "sanctified" or "made holy" His people in Egypt (Exo 13:2; Lev 11:44), so NT believers were "made holy" in Christ.

All believers are "saints" through their spiritual union with Christ, a fact Paul often expressed by the phrase "in Christ Jesus" (Rom 8:1,2; Eph 2:6,10,13; 3:6) or "in Christ" (Rom 12:5; 2Co 5:17). This use of the term emphasizes not so much personal holiness, though the believer's conduct should correspond increasingly to his standing (2Co 7:1; 2Th 5:23), but the objective "set apart" status each believer possesses because of the grace conferred upon him or her through Christ.

"The epistle to the Ephesians is an exposition of the origin and life of the saint. It is a portrait of a people so busy ministering to the needs of others that they have neither the time nor the desire to think of themselves, They are a blessed people! Paul was so filled with the majesty of this conception of the saint that he accepted his trials thankfully because his Lord had done him so great an honour to call him to be his minister. He realized the magnificence and the power of the call of the saints and he knew no prize of this life could compare with the honour of the saint. So whether we be bounding with the glow and energy of health, or helplessly chained to a bed of sickness; whether we have the comfortable possessions of this world, or little more than the widow's mite; whether we be young or old, brother or sister, let us rejoice in our call as saints and strive to radiate the spirit of the Father's purpose in us, that we may continue to work in whatever way we can in our preparation for the coming of Jesus" (MPS 14,15).

IN EPHESUS: Not in many early mss. This letter contains no personal salutations, which might be expected for an ecclesia so familiar to Paul. Was this a general epistle, sent esp to Laodicea (Col 4:16), expounding the "riches" in Christ (ct Rev 3:17)? [SB 14:129-131].

THE FAITHFUL: Those who show faith, and those who have fidelity. Trustful and trusty (CEph 13).

Eph 1:3

WHO HAS BLESSED US... WITH EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING IN CHRIST: "We may have as much of God as we will. Christ puts the key of the treasure-chamber into our hand, and bids us take all that we want. If a man is admitted into the bullion vault of a bank and told to help himself, and comes out with one cent, whose fault is it that he is poor?" (MacL).

Eph 1:4

FOR HE CHOSE US IN HIM: See Mar 13:20; Joh 15:16,19; 1Co 1:27; Jam 2:5; 1Pe 2:3-9.

BEFORE THE CREATION OF THE WORLD: Demonstrating that the choice of the Gentiles was not an adjustment or afterthought.

Eph 1:5

PREDESTINED: "Pro-orizo" = to set out in advance, as one might see the horizon stretched out in the distance.

ADOPTED: Severing all past connections; a new creation; a new family; cancellation of debts; right to the inheritance. Adoption: both present (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:5) and future (Rom 8:23).

We are "sons of God" by adoption. If we belong to Christ, ie, if we are his "offspring" (ie, Isa 53:10; Psa 22:30,31), then we likewise belong to God, as His dear children (Rom 8:16-23). Think of it in terms of the genealogies of Jesus: According to Mat 1, Jesus is the 42nd generation from Abraham, and that would make each of us the 43rd generation! According to Luke 3, Jesus is the 77th generation from Adam, and that makes us, by the same kind of reckoning, the 78th generation! And Adam was "born of God", although plainly in a different way than was Jesus... so there's a relationship to God through Adam too, although perhaps not so lovely! Remember, Adam was created "in the image and likeness" of God (Gen 1:26; 5:1), but by the time he sinned, his son was born in Adam's (fallen) image (Gen 5:3), which was something different, sadly. But then... best of all: "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth" (Joh 1:12-14). Because Jesus was (and is) Son of God [the Word made flesh: Joh 1:14!], we are "sons (and daughters!) of God" too [because His "Word", planted in our minds and hearts of flesh, caused us to be "born from above"]! Jesus is -- on his father's side -- the FIRST generation from God! And we are... only... the 2nd generation! Think of it as being heir to a vast fortune. On one side of our family, each of us is the 43rd lineal descendant, and heir of the world promised to Abraham (Rom 4:13). But... on the other side of the family, we are -- each one of us -- a specially beloved grandson or granddaughter of Almighty God. Between the two, I'd say we've got it made!

HIS PLEASURE: Isa 53: "The pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand" (AV).

Eph 1:6

THE ONE HE LOVES: The "Beloved", or David: cp Eze 34:23,24; 37:24.

HIS GLORIOUS GRACE, WHICH HE HAS FREELY GIVEN US IN THE ONE HE LOVES: "What a state of privilege! It includes our justification before God, but the term acceptance in the Greek means more than that. It signifies that we are the objects of divine complacence, nay, even of divine delight. How marvellous that we, mortals, sinners, should be the objects of divine love! But it is only 'in the beloved.' Some Christians seem to be accepted in their own experience, at least, that is their apprehension. When their spirit is lively, and their hopes bright, they think God accepts them, for they feel so high, so heavenly-minded, so drawn above the earth! But when their souls cleave to the dust, they are the victims of the fear that they are no longer accepted. If they could but see that all their high joys do not exalt them, and all their low despondencies do not really depress them in their Father's sight, but that they stand accepted in One who never alters, in One who is always the beloved of God, always perfect, always without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, how much happier they would be, and how much more they would honour the Saviour!... Thou lookest within, and thou sayest, 'There is nothing acceptable here!' But look at Christ, and see if there is not everything acceptable there. Thy sins trouble thee; but God has cast thy sins behind His back, and thou art accepted in the Righteous One. Thou hast to fight with corruption, and to wrestle with temptation, but thou art already accepted in Him who has overcome the powers of evil" (CHS).

Eph 1:7

REDEMPTION THROUGH HIS BLOOD: Deliverance through faith in shed blood of Jesus: Rom 3:25-27; Col 1:14; Rev 1:5. No remission without blood: Heb 9:22.

REDEMPTION: "Apolutrosis" = to be bought away from. See Lesson, Redemption.

Despite all the analysis of "redemption" in the NT, the simple truth of the transaction is contained in the key passages that equate redemption with the forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7; Col 1:14). What has been forgiven cannot also be paid for. The sacrifice of Christ, the culmination of a life of perfect obedience and dedication, was the price paid for our salvation. That is to say, it was necessary that Christ give himself as a suitable basis for the declaring of God's righteousness in offering mercy to sinners. But God's offer requires a corresponding "payment" on the part of those who would accept it. Since they are to be redeemed out of death, they must repudiate that which brought death, which is the world and sin (Rom 6:1-7, for example). They must live sober and godly lives, repudiating all iniquity, as a special people belonging exclusively to God (Tit 2:14).

THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS: "Could there be a sweeter word in any language than that word 'forgiveness,' when it sounds in a guilty sinner's ear, like the silver notes of jubilee to the captive Israelite? Blessed, for ever blessed be that dear star of pardon which shines into the condemned cell, and gives the perishing a gleam of hope amid the midnight of despair! Can it be possible that sin, such sin as mine, can be forgiven, forgiven altogether, and for ever? Can the load of guilt be uplifted, the crimson stain removed? Can the adamantine stones of my prison-house ever be loosed from their mortices, or the doors be lifted from their hinges? Jesus tells me that I may yet be clear. For ever blessed be the revelation of atoning love which not only tells me that pardon is possible, but that it is secured to all who rest in Jesus. What joy is this! What riches of grace does free forgiveness exhibit! To forgive at all, to forgive fully, to forgive freely, to forgive for ever! Here is a constellation of wonders; and when I think of how great my sins were, how dear were the precious drops which cleansed me from them, and how gracious was the method by which pardon was sealed home to me, I am in a maze of wondering worshipping affection" (CHS).

Eph 1:10

TO BRING ALL THINGS... TOGETHER: See Psa 8; Heb 2:14,15; 1Co 15:24-28; Gen 1:28.

IN HEAVEN: The heavens = holy and most holy, position of divine favor. Here = Jews, in ct those on earth -- ie Gentiles (cp Eph 1:3,20; 2:1-3,6,11-17; 3:6).

Eph 1:11

CHOSEN (MADE HEIRS): KJV has "have obtained an inheritance": Jos 11:23; 13:27,28; 18:8-10; Act 13:19.

ACCORDING TO THE PLAN OF HIM WHO WORKS OUT EVERYTHING IN CONFORMITY WITH THE PURPOSE OF HIS WILL: "Our belief in God's wisdom supposes and necessitates that He has a settled purpose and plan in the work of salvation. What would creation have been without His design? Is there a fish in the sea, or a fowl in the air, which was left to chance for its formation? Nay, in every bone, joint, and muscle, sinew, gland, and blood-vessel, you mark the presence of a God working everything according to the design of infinite wisdom. And shall God be present in creation, ruling over all, and not in grace? Look at Providence! Who knoweth not that not a sparrow falleth to the ground without your Father? Even the hairs of your head are all numbered. God weighs the mountains of our grief in scales, and the hills of our tribulation in balances. And shall there be a God in providence and not in grace? Shall the shell be ordained by wisdom and the kernel be left to blind chance? No; He knows the end from the beginning. He sees in its appointed place, not merely the cornerstone which He has laid in fair colours, in the blood of His dear Son, but He beholds in their ordained position each of the chosen stones taken out of the quarry of nature, and polished by His grace; He sees the whole from corner to cornice, from base to roof, from foundation to pinnacle. He hath in His mind a clear knowledge of every stone which shall be laid in its prepared space, and how vast the edifice shall be, and when the top-stone shall be brought forth with shoutings of 'Grace! Grace! unto it.' [Zec 4:7] At the last it shall be clearly seen that in every chosen vessel of mercy, Jehovah did as He willed with His own; and that in every part of the work of grace He accomplished His purpose, and glorified His own name" (CHS).

Eph 1:13

SEAL: Sealing: a mark of (1) validity and genuineness; (2) property, and/or (3) destination (CEph 32). See Rev 7:3-8.

Eph 1:14

A DEPOSIT: "Earnest" (KJV); down payment.

UNTIL: That is, "in prospect of".

REDEMPTION: "Apolutrosis" = to be bought away from. See Lesson, Redemption.

GOD'S POSSESSION: That is, the saints: Exo 19:5; Deu 14:2; Psa 135:4; Mal 3:17; 1Pe 2:9.

Eph 1:16

REMEMBERING YOU IN MY PRAYERS: "We have a great and continuing duty to our brethren and sisters, and that is the duty of fervent prayer for them -- not meaninglessly by habit and rote as a group, but thoughtfully and individually, one by one, entering into the joys and sorrows of each. Paul said to several ecclesias-- 'We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.' And his greetings show personal remembrance and care for individuals as such. His mind was ALWAYS filled with the things of God and of God's people. Until we have achieved the same "mind of Christ," we are not fully on the Way of Life" (GVG).

Eph 1:17

THE GLORIOUS FATHER: Or, "Father of THE glory", ie Father of Christ. To Israel pertained the glory (Rom 9:4; Eze 43:2-4; Joh 1:14; 2Co 4:6). Ark and cherubim, found in Tabernacle, glory to Moses. Future promise of glory: 1Th 2:12.

"Our Father in heaven" (Mat 6:9); "Father of glory" or "glorious Father" (Eph 1:17); "Father of compassion" (2Co 1:3); "Father of spirits" (Heb 12:9); "Father of the heavenly lights" (Jam 1:17); "a Father to you" (2Co 6:18); "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 15:6).

Eph 1:18

IN ORDER THAT YOU MAY KNOW: Many men are very "wise", who know nothing of such things: Mat 11:25; 1Co 2:14.


Eph 1:19

See Eph 3:7; Col 1:29; 2Pe 1:3; 2Co 4:7.

Eph 1:20

See VL, Christ's resurrection, reality.

Eph 1:21

Terms used of worldly political rulers (Luk 12:11; Tit 3:1; Eph 3:10; 6:12; 1Pe 3:22).

Eph 1:22

HEAD OVER... THE CHURCH: Eph 4:16; 5:23; Col 1:18; 2:19.

Eph 1:23

FULNESS: Joh 1:16; Col 2:10.

FILLS EVERYTHING: "Is being fulfilled" (cp Rom 11:25). "God all in all" (1Co 15:27,28). "We must fill our mind with God's Word, and fill our life with His character and actions. If we are content in our low animal way to do less than this, then we do not really care very much about Him, and we can hardly expect Him to care very much about us. His conception of love is totality: He is willing to give it -- and He requires it of all who would be associated with Him" (GVG).

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