Ephesians 1

Verse 26. Let us not be desirous of vain glory] κενοδοξοι.

Let us not be vain glorious-boasting of our attainments; vaunting

ourselves to be superior to others; or seeking honour from those

things which do not possess moral good; in birth, riches,

eloquence, &c., &c.

Provoking one another] What this may refer to we cannot tell;

whether to the Judaizing teachers, endeavouring to set themselves

up beyond the apostle, and their attempts to lessen him in the

people's eyes, that they might secure to themselves the public

confidence, and thus destroy St. Paul's influence in the Galatian

Churches; or whether to some other matter in the internal economy

of the Church, we know not. But the exhortation is necessary for

every Christian, and for every Christian Church. He who professes

to seek the honour that comes from God, should not be desirous of

vain glory. He who desires to keep the unity of the Spirit in the

bond of peace, should not provoke another. He who knows that he

never deserved any gift or blessing from God should not envy

another those blessings which the Divine goodness may have thought

proper to bestow upon him. May not God do what he will with his

own? If Christians in general would be content with the honour

that comes from God, if they would take heed to give no

provocations to their fellow Christians, if they would cease from

envying those on whom either God or man bestows honours or

advantages, we should soon have a happier and more perfect state

of the Christian Church than we now see. Christianity requires us

to esteem each other better than ourselves, or in honour to prefer

one another. Had not such a disposition been necessary to the

Christian character, and to the peace and perfection of the Church

of Christ, it would not have been so strongly recommended. But

who lays this to heart, or even thinks that this is indispensably

necessary to his salvation? Where this disposition lives not,

there are both the seed and fruit of the flesh. Evil tempers

are the bane of religion and totally contrary to Christianity.




Chronological Notes relative to this Epistle.

Usherian year of the world, 4065.

-Alexandrian era of the world, 5563.

-Antiochian era of the world, 5553.

-Constantinopolitan era of the world, 5569.

-Year of the Eusebian epocha of the Creation, 4289.

-Year of the Julian period, 4771.

-Year of the minor Jewish era of the world, 3821.

-Year of the Greater Rabbinical era of the world, 4420.

-Year from the Flood, according to Archbishop Usher, and the

English Bible, 2409.

-Year of the Cali yuga, or Indian era of the Deluge, 3163.

-Year of the era of Iphitus, or since the first commencement of

the Olympic games, 1001.

-Year of the Nabonassarean era, 808.

Year of the era of the Seleucidae, 373.

-Year of the Spanish era, 99.

-Year of the Actiac or Actian era, 92.

-Year from the birth of Christ, 65.

-Year of the vulgar era of Christ's nativity, 61.

-Year from the building of Rome, according to Varro, 813.

-Year of the CCXth Olympiad, 1.

-Jesus, high priest of the Jews.

-Common Golden Number, 5.

-Jewish Golden Number, 2.

-Year of the Solar Cycle, 14.

-Dominical Letter, D.

-Jewish Passover, March 22d.

-Easter Sunday, March 29th.

-Epact, or the moons age on the 22d of March, or the Xth of the

Calends of April, 14.

-Year of the reign of Nero Caesar, the sixth emperor of the

Romans, 8.

-In the first year of Porcius Festus, governor of the Jews.

-Year of Vologesus, king of the Parthians, 11.

-Year of Domitius Corbulo, governor of Syria, 2.

-Roman Consuls; C. Caesonius Paetus, and C. Petronius



The apostle's salutation to the Church, 1, 2.

He blesses God for calling the Gentiles to the adoption of

children by Jesus Christ, by whose sacrificial death both

they and the Jews find redemption, 3-7.

He shows that it was through the great abundance of God's

wisdom and goodness that the Gentiles were called into a

state of salvation, and that they should receive the Holy Spirit

as the earnest of their inheritance, 8-15.

He praises God for their conversion, and prays that they may

be farther enlightened, that they may see the glory of Christ,

and partake of the blessings procured by his passion and

exaltation, 16-23.


Verse 1. To the saints which are at Ephesus] As some learned

men think that this epistle was written to the Church of the

Laodiceans, and that the words ενεφεσω, in Ephesus, were not

originally in this epistle, the consideration of the subject has

appeared to be more proper for the preface; and to that the reader

is referred for a particular discussion of this opinion. By the

term saints we are to understand those who in that place professed

Christianity, and were members of the Christian Church. Saint

properly signifies a holy person, and such the Gospel of Christ

requires every man to be, and such every true believer is, both in

heart and life; but saint appears to have been as ordinary a

denomination of a believer in Christ in those primitive times, as

the term Christian is now. Yet many had the name who had not the


The faithful in Christ Jesus] πιστοις. the believers-the

persons who received Christ as the promised Messiah, and the

Saviour of the world, and continued in the grace which they had


Verse 2. Grace be to you] See Clarke on Ro 1:7.

Verse 3. Blessed be the God] See Clarke on 2Co 1:3,

where the same form is used.

With all spiritual blessings] With the pure doctrines of the

Gospel, and the abundant gifts and graces of the Holy Ghost,

justifying, sanctifying, and building us up on our most holy


In heavenly places] εντοιςεπουρανιοις. In heavenly things,

such as those mentioned above; they were not yet in heavenly

places, but they had abundance of heavenly things to prepare them

for heavenly places. Some think the word should be understood as

signifying blessings of the most exalted or excellent kind, such

as are spiritual in opposition to those that are earthly, such as

are eternal in opposition to those that are temporal; and all

these in, through and by CHRIST. We have already seen, on

Ga 4:26,

that the heavenly Jerusalem, or Jerusalem which is from above, is

used by the Jews to signify the days of the Messiah, and that

state of grace and glory which should follow the Levitical worship

and ceremonies; and it is possible that St. Paul may use the word

επουρανια, heavenly things, in this sense: God hath blessed us

with all spiritual blessings in heavenly things, or in this

heavenly state, in which life and immortality are brought to light

by the Gospel. This is apparently the preferable sense.

Verse 4. According as he hath chosen us in him] As he has

decreed from the beginning of the world, and has kept in view from

the commencement of the religious system of the Jews, (which the

phrase sometimes means,) to bring us Gentiles to the knowledge of

this glorious state of salvation by Christ Jesus. The Jews

considered themselves an elect or chosen people, and wished to

monopolize the whole of the Divine love and beneficence. The

apostle here shows that God had the Gentiles as much in the

contemplation of his mercy and goodness as he had the Jews; and

the blessings of the Gospel, now so freely dispensed to them, were

the proof that God had thus chosen them, and that his end in

giving them the Gospel was the same which he had in view by giving

the law to the Jews, viz. that they might be holy and without

blame before him. And as his object was the same in respect to

them both, they should consider that, as he loved them, so they

should love one another: God having provided for each the same

blessings, they should therefore be αγιους, holy-fully separated

from earth and sin, and consecrated to God and αμωμους, without

blame-having no spot nor imperfection, their inward holiness

agreeing with their outward consecration. The words are a

metaphor taken from the perfect and immaculate sacrifices which

the law required the people to bring to the altar of God. 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.

Verse 5. Having predestinated us] προορισας. As the doctrine

of eternal predestination has produced much controversy in the

Christian world, it may be necessary to examine the meaning of the

term, that those who do use it may employ it according to the

sense it has in the oracles of God. The verb προοπζω, from προ,

before, and οριζω, I define, finish, bound, or terminate,

whence ορος, a boundary or limit, signifies to define

beforehand, and circumscribe by certain bounds or limits; and is

originally a geographical term, but applied also to any thing

concluded, or determined, or demonstrated. Here the word is used

to point out God's fixed purpose or predetermination to bestow on

the Gentiles the blessing of the adoption of sons by Jesus Christ,

which adoption had been before granted to the Jewish people; and

without circumcision, or any other Mosaic rite, to admit the

Gentiles to all the privileges of his Church and people. And the

apostle marks that all this was fore-determined by God, as he had

fore-determined the bounds and precincts of the land which he gave

them according to the promise made to their fathers; that the Jews

had no reason to complain, for God had formed this purpose before

he had given the law, or called them out of Egypt; (for it was

before the foundation of the world, Eph 1:4;) and that,

therefore, the conduct of God in calling the Gentiles now-bringing

them into his Church, and conferring on them the gifts and graces

of the Holy Spirit, was in pursuance of his original design; and,

if he did not do so, his eternal purposes could not be fulfilled;

and that, as the Jews were taken to be his peculiar people, not

because they had any goodness or merit in themselves; so the

Gentiles were called, not for any merit they had, but according to

the good pleasure of his will; that is, according to his eternal

benevolence, showing mercy and conferring privileges in this new

creation, as he had done in the original creation; for as, in

creating man, he drew every consideration from his own innate

eternal benevolence, so now, in redeeming man, and sending the

glad tidings of salvation both to the Jews and the Gentiles, be

acted on the same principles, deriving all the reasons of his

conduct from his own infinite goodness.

This argument was exceedingly conclusive, and must silence the

Jews on the ground of their original, primitive, and exclusive

rights, which they were ever ready to plead against all

pretensions of the Gentiles. If therefore God, before the

foundation of the Jewish economy, had determined that the

Gentiles, in the fulness of time, should be called to and admitted

into all the privileges of the Messiah's kingdom, then the

exclusive salvation of the Jews was chimerical; and what God was

doing now, by the preaching of the apostles in the Gentile world,

was in pursuance of his original design. This same argument St.

Paul repeatedly produces in his Epistle to the Romans; and a

proper consideration of it unlocks many difficulties in that

epistle. See the notes on Ro 8:29, 30; and elsewhere, in the

course of that epistle, where this subject is handled. But why is

the word προορισας, fore-determined, limited, or circumscribed,

used here? Merely in reference to the settlement of the

Israelites in the promised land. God assigned to them the

portions which they were to inherit; and these portions were

described, and their bearings, boundaries, vicinities to other

portions, extent and length, as exactly ascertained as they could

be by the most correct geographical map. As God, therefore, had

dealt with the Jews in making them his peculiar people, and when

he divided the earth among the sons of Noah reserved to himself

the twelve portions which he afterwards gave to the twelve tribes;

(See Clarke on De 32:8;)

and as his dealings with them were typical of what he intended

to do in the calling and salvation of the Gentiles; so he uses the

terms by which their allotment and settlement were pointed out to

show that, what he had thus designed and typified, he had now

fulfilled according to the original predetermination; the Gentiles

having now the spiritual inheritance which God had pointed out by

the grant made of the promised land to the children of Israel.

This is the grand key by which this predestination business is

unlocked. See Clarke on Eph 1:11.

Verse 6. To the praise of the glory of his grace] δοξηςτης

χαριτοςαυτου. The glory of his grace, for χαριςενδοξος, his

glorious or illustrious grace, according to the Hebrew idiom. But

the grace or mercy of God is peculiarly illustrated and glorified

in the plan of redemption by Christ Jesus. By the giving of the

LAW, God's justice and holiness were rendered most glorious; by

the giving of the GOSPEL, his grace and mercy are made equally


Wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved] This

translation of ενηεχαριτωσενημαςεντωηγαπημενω) is not clear;

with which he has graciously favoured us through the Beloved, is

at once more literal and more intelligible. Whitby, Macknight,

and Wakefield translate the passage in nearly the same way.

In the Beloved must certainly mean in Christ, who is termed

God's beloved Son, Mt 3:17; but several excellent MSS., such as

D*EFG, the later Syriac, the AEthiopic, Vulgate, Itala, with

several of the fathers, add, υιωαυτου, his beloved Son. This is

the meaning, whether the reading be received or rejected.

Verse 7. In whom we have redemption] God has glorified his

grace by giving us redemption by the blood of his Son, and this

redemption consists in forgiving and delivering us from our sins;

so then Christ's blood was the redemption price paid down for our

salvation: and this was according to the riches of his grace; as

his grace is rich or abundant in benevolence, so it was

manifested in beneficence to mankind, in their redemption by the

sacrifice of Christ, the measure of redeeming grace being the

measure of God's own eternal goodness.

It may not be useless to remark that, instead of τηςχαριτος

αυτου, his grace, the Codex Alexandrinus and the Coptic

version have τηςχρηστοτητος, his goodness.

Verse 8. Wherein he hath abounded] That is, in the

dispensation of mercy and goodness by Christ Jesus.

In all wisdom and prudence] Giving us apostles the most

complete instructions in heavenly things by the inspiration of his

Spirit; and at the same time prudence, that we might know when and

where to preach the Gospel so that it might be effectual to the

salvation of those who heard it. Nothing less than the Spirit of

God could teach the apostles that wisdom by which they were to

instruct a dark and sinful world; and nothing less than the same

Spirit could inspire them with that prudence which was necessary

to be exercised in every step of their life and ministry. Every

wise man is not a prudent man, and every prudent man is not a wise

man. Wisdom and prudence may be expected in an apostle who is

constantly living under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.

"Wisdom," according to Sir William Temple, "is that which makes

men judge what are the best ends, and what the best means to

attain them; and gives a man advantage of counsel and direction."

"Prudence is wisdom applied to practice; or that discreet, apt

suiting as well of actions as words, in their due place, time, and

manner. Every minister of Christ needs these still; and if he

abide not under the influence of both, not only his prayers but

his ministerial labours will be all hindered,

Verse 9. Having made known unto us the mystery] That the

Gentiles should ever be received into the Church of God, and have

all the privileges of the Jews, without being obliged to submit to

circumcision, and perform the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish

law was a mystery-a hidden thing which had never been published

before; and now revealed only to the apostles. It was God's will

that it should be so, but that will he kept hidden to the present

time. A mystery signifies something hidden, but it ceases to be a

mystery as soon as it is revealed.

See Clarke on Mt 13:11;

and particularly that on, See Clarke on Ro 11:25.

Good pleasure] τηνευδοκιαν. That benevolent design which he

had purposed in himself, not being induced by any consideration

from without.

Verse 10. In the dispensation of the fulness of times] εις

οικονομιαντουπληρωματοςτωνκαιρων. The word οικονομια, which

is the same as our word economy, signifies, as Dr. Macknight has

well observed, "the plan which the master of a family, or his

steward, has established for the management of the family;" it

signifies, also, a plan for the management of any sort of

business: and here it means the dispensation of the Gospel, that

plan by which God has provided salvation for a lost world; and

according to which he intends to gather all believers, both Jews

and Gentiles, into one Church under Jesus Christ, their head and

governor. See Clarke on Mt 24:45,

where the word and the office are particularly explained.

The fulness of times-By this phrase we are to understand either

the Gospel dispensation, which is the consummation of all

preceding dispensations, and the last that shall be afforded to

man; or that advanced state of the world which God saw to be the

most proper for the full manifestation of those benevolent

purposes which he had formed in himself relative to the salvation

of the world by Jesus Christ.

That he might gather together in one] ανακεφαλαιωσασθαι, from

ανα, again, and κεφαλαιοω, to reduce to one sum; to add up; to

bring different sums together, and fractions of sums, so as to

reduce them under one denomination; to recapitulate the principal

matters contained in a discourse. Here it means the gathering

together both Jews and Gentiles, who have believed in Christ, into

one Church and flock. See the preceding note.

All things-which are in heaven, and which are on earth] This

clause is variously understood: some think, by things in heaven

the Jewish state is meant and by things on earth the Christian.

The Jews had been long considered a Divine or heavenly people;

their doctrine, their government, their constitution, both civil

and ecclesiastical, were all Divine or heavenly: as the powers of

the heavens, Mt 24:29, Lu 21:26,

mean the Jewish rulers in Church and state, it is very possible

that the things which are in heaven mean this same state; and as

the Gentiles were considered to have nothing Divine or heavenly

among them, they may be here intended by the earth, out of the

corruption of which they are to be gathered by the preaching of

the Gospel. But there are others who imagine that the things in

heaven mean the angelical hosts; and the things on earth

believers of all nations, who shall all be joined together at last

in one assembly to worship God throughout eternity. And some

think that the things in heaven mean the saints who died before

Christ's advent, and who are not to be made perfect till the

resurrection, when the full power and efficacy of Christ shall be

seen in raising the bodies of believers and uniting them with

their holy souls, to reign in his presence for ever. And some

think that, as the Hebrew phrase shamayim vehaarets,

the heavens and the earth, signifies all creatures, the words in

the text are to be understood as signifying all mankind, without

discrimination of peoples, kindreds, or tongues; Jews, Greeks, or

barbarians. All that are saved of all nations, (being saved in

the same way, viz. by faith in Christ Jesus, without any

distinction of nation or previous condition,) and all gathered

into one Church or assembly.

I believe that the forming one Church out of both Jews and

Gentiles is that to which the apostle refers. This agrees with

what is said, Eph 2:14-17.

Verse 11. In whom] Christ Jesus; also we-believing Jews have

obtained an inheritance-what was promised to Abraham and his

spiritual seed, viz. the adoption of sons, and the kingdom of

heaven, signified by the privileges under the Mosaic dispensation,

and the possession of the promised land, but all these privileges

being forfeited by the rebellion and unbelief of the Jews, they

are now about to be finally cut off, and the believing part to be

re-elected, and put in possession of the blessings promised to

Abraham and his spiritual seed, by faith; for without a

re-election, they cannot get possession of these spiritual


Being predestinated] God having determined to bring both Jews

and Gentiles to salvation, not by works, nor by any human means or

schemes, but by Jesus Christ; that salvation being defined and

determined before in the Divine mind, and the means by which it

should be brought about all being according to his purpose, who

consults not his creatures, but operates according to the counsel

of his own will, that being ever wise, gracious, and good.

The original reference is still kept up here in the word

προορισθεντες, being predestinated, as in the word προορισας

Eph 1:5.

And as the apostle speaks of obtaining the inheritance, he most

evidently refers to that of which the promised land was the type

and pledge. And as that land was assigned to the Israelites by

limit and lot, both of which were appointed by God so the

salvation now sent to the Gentiles was as expressly their lot or

portion, as the promised land was that of the people of Israel.

All this shows that the Israelites were a typical people; their

land, the manner of possessing it, their civil and religious code,

&c., &c., all typical; and that in, by, and through them, God had

fore-determined, fore-described, and fore-ascertained a greater

and more glorious people, among whom the deepest counsels of his

wisdom should be manifested, and the most powerful works of his

eternal mercy, grace, holiness, goodness, and truth, be fully

exhibited. Thus there was nothing fortuitous in the Christian

scheme; all was the result of infinite counsel and design.

See Clarke on Eph 1:5.

Verse 12. That we] Jews, now apostles and messengers of God,

to whom the first offers of salvation were made, and who were the

first that believed in Christ.

Should be to the praise of his glory] By being the means of

preaching Christ crucified to the Gentiles, and spreading the

Gospel throughout the world.

Verse 13. In whom ye also trusted] Ye Gentiles, having heard

from us the word, τονλογον, the doctrine, of the truth, which is

the Gospel, or glad tidings, of your salvation, have believed, as

we Jews have done, and received similar blessings to those with

which God has favoured us.

In whom also, ενω, through whom, Christ Jesus, after that ye

had believed, viz. that he was the only Saviour, and that through

his blood redemption might be obtained, ye were sealed with that

holy Spirit of promise; that is, The Holy Spirit, which is

promised to them who believe on Christ Jesus, was given to you,

and thus you were ascertained to be the children of God, for God

has no child who is not a partaker of the Holy Ghost, and he who

has this Spirit has God's seal that he belongs to the heavenly

family. It was customary among all nations, when a person

purchased goods of any kind, to mark with his seal that which he

had bought, in order that he might know it, and be able to claim

it if mixed with the goods of others; to this custom the apostle

may here allude but it was also customary to set a seal upon what

was dedicated to God, or what was to be offered to him in

sacrifice. See this proved in the note on "Joh 6:27". The Jews

themselves speak of the seal of God, which they term emeth,

truth, and which they consider as a representation of the

unoriginated and endless perfections of God. As the apostle is

here speaking of the doctrine of truth, which came by the Holy

Spirit, and is sealed on the souls of believers by this Spirit, he

may have in view the Jewish notion, which is at once both correct

and elevated. This Spirit of truth, Joh 14:17,

who leads into all truth, Joh 16:13,

and teaches all things, Joh 14:26, makes the impression of his

own eternal purity and truth in the souls of them who believe, and

thus they bear the seal of God Almighty. And they who in the day

of judgment are found to bear this seal-TRUTH; truth in the inward

parts, having truly repented, truly believed, and having been in

consequence truly justified, and truly sanctified; and having

walked in truth and sincerity towards God and man; these are

sealed to the day of redemption; for, having this seal, they are

seen to have a right to eternal life.

Verse 14. Which is the earnest of our inheritance] This Holy

Spirit, sealing the soul with truth and righteousness, is the

earnest, foretaste, and pledge of the heavenly inheritance. And

he who can produce this earnest-this witness of the Spirit, in the

day of judgment, shall have an abundant entrance into the holiest.

On the αρραβων, or earnest, See Clarke on Ge 38:13,

&c., and See Clarke on 2Co 1:22.

The redemption of the purchased possession] That is, till the

time when body and soul are redeemed from all their miseries, and

glorified in the kingdom on heaven.

The redemption of the purchased possession-απολυτρωσιςτης

περιποιησεως is variously understood; and indeed the original is

variously translated. Dr. Whitby has observed that the verb

πεειποιεις signifies to save alive; and he refers the

περιποιησις, here, to the redemption of the body from

corruption, and to its final glorification with the soul.

All those who believe in Christ Jesus are considered as his

peculiar people and property, and to them eternal glory is

promised. The Spirit of promise, which is given them, is a pledge

that they shall have a resurrection from the dead, and eternal

blessedness; the redemption, or bringing to life of the body,

cannot take place till the day of judgment, but the Holy Spirit

promises this redemption, and is now in their hearts an earnest or

pledge of this complete restoration at the great day, which will

then be, in an especial manner, to the praise of his glory, viz.

of Christ, who has bought them by his blood.

Verse 15. Faith in the Lord Jesus] Cordial reception of the

Christian religion, amply proved by their love to all the

saints-to all the Christians. Perhaps love here implies, not

only the kind affection so called, but also all the fruits of

love-benevolence, and kind offices of every description.

Verse 16. Cease not to give thanks] The apostle intimates, so

fully satisfied was he of the genuineness of their conversion, and

of their steadiness since their conversion, that it was to him a

continual cause of thanksgiving to God, who had brought them into

that state of salvation; and of prayer, that they might be

preserved blameless to the end.

Making mention of you] While praying for the prosperity of the

Christian cause generally, he was led, from his particular

affection for them, to mention them by name before God.

Verse 17. That the God of our Lord Jesus] Jesus Christ, as man

and mediator, has the Father for his God and Father: and it is in

reference to this that he himself says: I ascend unto my Father

and your Father, and to my God and your God; Joh 20:17.

The Father of glory] The author and giver of that glory which

you expect at the end of your Christian race. This may be a

Hebraism for glorious Father, but the former appears to be the

best sense.

The Spirit of wisdom and revelation] I pray that God may give

you his Holy Spirit, by whom his will is revealed to men, that he

may teach and make you wise unto salvation, that you may continue

to acknowledge him, Christ Jesus, as your only Lord and Saviour.

Verse 18. The eyes of your understanding being enlightened]

The understanding is that power or faculty in the soul by which

knowledge or information is received, and the recipient power is

here termed the EYES of the understanding; and we learn from this

that οπεροοφθαλμοςεντωσωματιτουτοονουςεντηψυχη, as

Philo expresses it: What the eye is to the body, the

understanding is to the soul; and that as the eye is not light in

itself, and can discern nothing but by the means of light shining, not

only on the objects to be viewed, but into the eye itself; so the

understanding of man can discern no sacred thing of or by itself,

but sees by the influence of the Spirit of wisdom and revelation;

for without the influence of God's Holy Spirit no man ever became

wise unto salvation, no more than a man ever discerned an object,

(no matter how perfect soever his eye might have been,) without

the instrumentality of light.

Instead of τηςδιανοιας, of your understanding, της

καρδιας, of your heart, is the reading of ABDEFG, and several

others; also both the Syriac, all the Arabic, the Coptic, the

AEthiopic, Armenian, Sahidic, Slavonian, Vulgate, and Itala,

besides several of the fathers. The eyes of your HEART is

undoubtedly the true reading.

The hope of his calling] That you may clearly discern the

glorious and important objects of your hope, to the enjoyment of

which God has called or invited you.

The riches of the glory of his inheritance] That you may

understand what is the glorious abundance of the spiritual things

to which you are entitled, in consequence of being made children

of God; for if children, then heirs, heirs of that glorious

inheritance which God has provided for the saints-for all genuine

Christians, whether formerly Jews or Gentiles. On the chief

subject of this verse, see the notes on Ga 4:6, 7.

Verse 19. The exceeding greatness of his power] As the apostle

is here speaking of the glorious state of believers after death,

the exceeding greatness of his power, or that power which

surpasses all difficulties, being itself omnipotent, is to be

understood of that might which is to be exerted in raising the

body at the last day; as it will require the same power or energy

which he wrought in Christ, when he raised his body from the

grave, to raise up the bodies of all mankind; the resurrection of

the human nature of Christ being a proof of the resurrection of

mankind in general.

According to the working of his mighty power] κατατην

ενεργειαντουκρατουςτηςισχυοςαυτου. According to the energy

of the power of his might. We may understand these words thus:

MIGHT, ισχυς, is the state or simple efficiency of this attribute

in God; POWER, κρατος, is this might or efficiency in action;

ENERGY, ενεργεια, is the quantum of force, momentum, or velocity,

with which the power is applied. Though they appear to be

synonymous terms they may be thus understood: passive power is

widely different from power in action; and power in action will be

in its results according to the energy or momentum with which it

is applied. The resurrection of the dead is a stupendous work of

God; it requires his might in sovereign action; and when we

consider that all mankind are to be raised and changed in a

moment, in the twinkling of an eye, then the momentum, or

velocity, with which the power is to be applied must be

inconceivably great. All motion is in proportion to the quantity

of matter in the mover, and the velocity with which it is

applied. The effect here is in proportion to the cause and the

energy he puts forth in order to produce it. But such is the

nature of God's power in action, that it is perfectly

inconceivable to us; and even these astonishingly strong words of

the apostle are to be understood as used in condescension to human


Verse 20. Set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places]

Gave him, as mediator between God and man, the highest honours and

dignities, Php 2:9; in which state of exaltation he transacts all

the affairs of his Church, and rules the universe. The right hand

is the place of friendship, honour, confidence, and authority.

Verse 21. Far above all principality] The difficulty in this

verse does not arise from the words themselves, the meaning of

each being easily understood, but from the sense in which the

apostle uses them. Some think he has reference here to the

different orders among good and evil angels; he is superior to all

the former, and rules all the latter. Others think he refers to

earthly governments; and as απχη, principality, the first word,

signifies the most sovereign and extensive kind of dominion; and

κυριοτης, lordship, the last word, signifies the lowest degree

of authority; hence we are to understand that to our Lord, in his

human nature, are subjected the highest, the intermediate, and the

lowest orders of beings in the universe.-Chandler. Others imagine

that the apostle has in view, by whatsoever is named in this

world, all the dignitaries of the Jewish Church; and by what is

named in the world to come, all the dignities that should be found

in the Christian Church.

Schoettgen supposes that the "apostle's αρχη (for αρχοντες, the

abstract for the concrete) means the same as the Nesiim

among the Jews, whose chief business it was to clear and decide

all contentions which arose concerning traditions and legal


"That εξουσια, power, is the same as tsorba, he who

possesses authority to propound, expound, persuade, convince, and


"That δυναμις, might, answers to rabbanoth,

signifying all the class of rabbins, whose office it was to expound the

law, and teach the people generally.

"And that κυριοτης, dominion, answers to mar, which

signifies a person above the lower orders of men. And he observes

that Jesus Christ, after his resurrection, called fishermen,

publicans, and men from the lowest orders of the people, to the

work of the ministry; and made them instruments of confounding and

overturning all the Jewish rulers, rabbins, and doctors. And that

in the world which is to come-the successive ages of Christianity,

he should ever be exalted above all those powers and authorities

which Antichrist might bring into the Christian Church; such as

popes, cardinals, wicked archbishops, bishops, deans, and canons;

and all those who among the schoolmen were termed seraphic

doctors, angelic doctors, most illuminated, most perfect, and

irrefragable doctors. And although Wiclif, Huss, Luther,

Melancthon, and the rest of the reformers, were men of little or

no note when compared with the rulers of the popish Church, so

eminently did the power of Christ work in and by them, that the

pope and all his adjutants were every where confounded, and their

power and authority annihilated in several entire regions."

It is certain that the apostle means that all created power,

glory, and influence, are under Christ; and hence it is added:

Verse 22. And hath put all things under his feet] All beings

and things are subject to him, whether they be thrones, dominions,

principalities, or powers, Col 1:16-18; 2:10; for he, God the

Father, has given him to be head-chief, and supreme, over all, to

the Church, the Church having no ruler but Jesus Christ; others

may be officers in his Church, but he alone is head and supreme.

Verse 23. Which is his body] As he is head over all things, he

is head to the Church; and this Church is considered as the body

of which he is especially the head; and from him, as the head, the

Church receives light, life, and intelligence.

And is the fulness of him] That in which he especially

manifests his power, goodness, and truth; for though he fills all

the world with his presence, yet he fills all the members of his

mystical body with wisdom, goodness, truth, and holiness, in an

especial manner. Some understand the fulness or πληρωμα, here, as

signifying the thing to be filled; so the Christian Church is to

be filled by him, whose fulness fills all his members, with all

spiritual gifts and graces. And this corresponds with what St.

John says, Joh 1:16:

And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. And

with what is said, Col 2:9,10:

Ye are complete in him; καιεστεεναυτωπεπληρωμενοι. And ye are

in him filled full; i.e. with gifts and grace.

How, in any other sense, the Church can be said to be the

fulness of him who fills all in all, is difficult to say.

However, as Jesus Christ is represented to be the head, and the

Church, the body under that head, the individuals being so many

members in that body; and as it requires a body and members

to make a head complete; so it requires a Church, or general

assembly of believers, to make up the body of Christ. When,

therefore, the Jews and Gentiles are brought into this Church, the

body may be said to be complete; and thus Christ has his visible

fulness upon earth, and the Church may be said to be the fulness

of him, &c. See Eph 1:10.

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