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Book chapters «The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians»
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  • This book speaks particularly of the church and unveils the church in its seven aspects as
    1) the Body of Christ, the fullness, the expression, of the One who fills all in all (v. 23; 4:13);
    2) the new man (Eph. 2:15), a corporate man, having not only the life of Christ but also His person;
    3) the kingdom of God (Eph. 2:19), with the saints as citizens possessing its rights and bearing its responsibilities;
    4) the household of God (Eph. 2:19), a family full of life and enjoyment;
    5) the dwelling place of God, in which He may live (Eph. 2:21-22) — universally, a holy temple in the Lord, and locally, the dwelling place of God in our spirit;
    6) the bride, the wife, of Christ (Eph. 5:24-25) for Christ's rest and satisfaction;
    7) the warrior (Eph. 6:11-12), a corporate fighter, who deals with and defeats God's enemy to accomplish God's eternal purpose.

    A particular characteristic of this book is that it speaks from the viewpoint of God's eternal purpose, from eternity, and from the heavenlies. It is positioned in the New Testament immediately after the revelation concerning Christ versus religion (Galatians). It is followed by a book on the practical experience of Christ (Philippians), and it leads to Christ, the Head (Colossians). Thus, these four books are the heart of the New Testament revelation concerning God's eternal economy.

  • Paul was made an apostle of Christ not by man but through the will of God, according to God's economy. This standing gave him authority to put forth in this Epistle the revelation of God's eternal purpose concerning the church. The church is built on this revelation (Eph. 2:20).

  • The saints are those who are made holy, who are sanctified, separated unto God from everything that is common.

  • In Ephesus is not found in the earliest MSS.

  • The faithful are those who are faithful in the faith, which is referred to in Eph. 4:13; 2 Tim. 4:7 and Jude 1:3.

  • Grace is God as our enjoyment (John 1:17; 1 Cor. 15:10).

  • Peace is a condition that issues from grace, from the enjoyment of God our Father.

  • We are God's creatures and God's sons. To us as God's creatures, God is our God; to us as God's sons, He is our Father.

  • We are also the Lord's redeemed ones. As the Lord's redeemed ones, we have Him as our Lord. Grace and peace come to us from God our Creator, from our Father, and from the Lord our Redeemer. Since we are His created ones, redeemed ones, and regenerated ones, we are positioned to receive grace and peace from Him.

  • Lit., well spoken of; i.e., praised with adoration. In this section the Triune God is well spoken of, praised with adoration: the Father in His selection and predestination for God's eternal purpose (vv. 3-6), the Son in His redemption for the accomplishment of God's eternal purpose (vv. 7-12), and the Spirit in His sealing and pledging for the application of God's accomplished purpose (vv. 13-14). Through all the virtues of the Divine Trinity, we, the fallen sinners, become the church, the Body of Christ, the fullness, the expression, of the One who fills all in all.

  • God is the God of our Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of Man, and God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God. According to the Lord's humanity, God is His God, and according to the Lord's divinity, God is His Father.

  • Since the Lord Jesus is ours, whatever God is to Him also is ours. Lord refers to His lordship (Acts 2:36), Jesus to Him as a man (1 Tim. 2:5), and Christ to Him as God's anointed One (John 20:31).

  • Lit., praised, or, spoken well of. When God blesses us, He praises us, speaks well of us.

  • Lit., in.

  • All the blessings with which God has blessed us, being spiritual, are related to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God is not only the channel but also the reality of God's blessings. In this verse God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit are all related to the blessings bestowed on us. God's blessing us is actually His dispensing Himself into us.

  • Lit., good speech, or, utterance, well speaking, fair speech; implying bounty and benefit. God has blessed us with His good, fine, and fair speakings. Every such speaking is a blessing to us. Verses Eph. 1:4-14 are an account of such speakings, such blessings. All these blessings are spiritual, in the heavenlies, and in Christ.

  • Heavenlies here indicates not only the heavenly place but also the heavenly nature, state, characteristic, and atmosphere of the spiritual blessings with which God has blessed us. These blessings are from the heavens, having a heavenly nature, heavenly state, heavenly characteristic, and heavenly atmosphere. The believers in Christ are enjoying on earth these heavenly blessings, which are spiritual as well as heavenly. They are different from the blessings with which God blessed Israel. Those blessings were physical and earthly. The blessings bestowed on us are of God the Father, in God the Son, through God the Spirit, and in the heavenlies. They are the spiritual blessings bestowed by the Triune God on us, the believers in Christ. They are the blessings in the heavenlies, having a heavenly nature, state, character, and atmosphere.

  • Christ is the virtue, the instrument, and the sphere in which God has blessed us. Outside of Christ, apart from Christ, God has nothing to do with us; but in Christ He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies.

  • After v. 3, vv. 4-14 present a list of all the spiritual blessings with which God has blessed us, beginning from His choosing us in eternity and reaching to the producing of the Body of Christ to express Himself for eternity. Hence, God's choosing is the first blessing that He bestowed on us. His choosing is His selection. From among numberless people He selected us, and this He did in Christ. Christ was the sphere in which we were selected by God. Outside of Christ we are not God's choice.

  • This was in eternity past. Before He created us, God chose us according to His infinite foresight. This implies that the world, which is the universe, was founded for man's existence to fulfill God's eternal purpose.

    The book of Romans begins with fallen men on earth; Ephesians begins with God's chosen ones in the heavenlies.

  • Holy means not only sanctified, separated unto God, but also different, distinct, from everything that is common. Only God is different, distinct, from all things. Hence, He is holy; holiness is His nature. He chose us that we should be holy. He makes us holy by imparting Himself, the Holy One, into our being, that our whole being may be permeated and saturated with His holy nature. For us, God's chosen ones, to be holy is to partake of God's divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4) and to have our whole being permeated with God Himself. This is different from mere sinless perfection or sinless purity. This makes our being holy in God's nature and character, just like God Himself.

  • A blemish is like a foreign particle in a precious gem. God's chosen ones should be saturated with only God Himself, having no foreign particles, such as the fallen natural human element, the flesh, the self, or worldly things. This is to be without blemish, without any mixture, without any element other than God's holy nature. The church, after being thoroughly washed by the water in the word, will be sanctified in such a way (Eph. 5:26-27).

  • Before Him indicates that we are holy and without blemish in the eyes of God according to His divine standard. This qualifies us to remain in and enjoy His presence.

  • In love could be joined with the first phrase of v. 5.

  • Love here refers to the love with which God loves His chosen ones and His chosen ones love Him. It is in this love, in such a love, that God's chosen ones become holy and without blemish before Him. First, God loved us; then this divine love inspires us to love Him in return. In such a condition and atmosphere of love, we are saturated with God to be holy and without blemish, just as He is.

  • Or, marking us out beforehand. Marking out beforehand is the process, whereas predestination is the purpose, which is to determine a destiny beforehand. God selected us before the foundation of the world, marking us out beforehand unto a certain destiny.

  • God's marking us out beforehand was to destine us unto sonship. We were predestinated to be sons of God even before we were created. Hence, as God's creatures we need to be regenerated by Him that we may participate in His life to be His sons. Sonship implies having not only the life but also the position of a son. God's marked-out ones have the life to be His sons and the position to inherit Him. To be made holy — to be sanctified by God by His putting Himself into us and then mingling His nature with us — is the process, the procedure, whereas to be sons of God is the aim, the goal, and is a matter of our being joined to the Son of God and conformed to a particular form or shape, the very image of the firstborn Son of God (Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:15), that our whole being, including our body (Rom. 8:23), may be "sonized" by God.

  • Through Jesus Christ means through the Son of God, the Redeemer. Through Him we were redeemed to be the sons of God, having the life and position of God's sons.

  • This reveals that God has a will, in which is His good pleasure. God predestinated us to be His sons according to His pleasure, according to His heart's delight. Unlike the book of Romans, the book of Ephesians does not speak from the standpoint of man's sinful condition; rather, it speaks from the standpoint of the good pleasure of God's heart. Hence, Ephesians is deeper and higher.

  • The praise of the glory of God's grace is the result, the issue, of sonship (v. 5). God's predestinating us unto sonship is for the praise of His expression in His grace, that is, for the praise of the glory of His grace. Eventually, every positive thing in the universe will praise God for sonship (Rom. 8:19), thus fulfilling what is spoken in this verse.

  • Glory is God expressed (Exo. 40:34). The glory of His grace indicates that God's grace, which is Himself as our enjoyment, expresses Him. As we receive grace and enjoy God, we have the sense of glory.

  • This puts us into the position of grace that we may be the object of God's grace and favor, that is, that we may enjoy all that God is to us.

  • The Beloved is God's beloved Son, in whom He delights (Matt. 3:17; 17:5). Hence, in gracing us God makes us an object in whom He delights. This is altogether a pleasure to God. In Christ we have been blessed by God with every blessing. In the Beloved we were graced, made the object of God's favor and pleasure. As such an object we enjoy God, and God enjoys us in His grace in His Beloved, who is His delight. In His Beloved we too become His delight.

  • We were chosen and predestinated. But after being created, we became fallen. Hence, we need redemption, which God accomplished for us in Christ through His blood. This is another item of God's blessings that He has bestowed on us.

  • The forgiveness of our offenses is the redemption through the blood of Christ. Apart from the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins (Heb. 9:22). Redemption is what Christ accomplished for our offenses; forgiveness is the application of Christ's accomplishment to our offenses.

  • God's grace is not only rich (v. 7) but also abounding. Such grace makes us an inheritance to God (v. 11) and qualifies us to inherit all that God is (v. 14).

  • Wisdom is what is within God for planning and purposing a will concerning us; prudence is the application of God's wisdom. First, God planned and purposed in His wisdom, and then He applied with prudence what He had planned and purposed for us. Wisdom was mainly for God's plan in eternity, and prudence is mainly for God's execution of His plan in time. What God planned in eternity in His wisdom, He is now executing in time in His prudence.

  • To make known to us the mystery of His will is one item of God's wisdom and prudence.

  • In eternity God planned a will. This will was hidden in Him; hence, it was a mystery. In His wisdom and prudence He has made this hidden mystery known to us through His revelation in Christ, that is, through Christ's incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension.

  • It was the pleasure of God's heart to make the mystery of His will known to us.

  • God's good pleasure was what He purposed in Himself unto the economy of the fullness of the times (v. 10), indicating that God Himself is the initiation, the origination, and the sphere of His eternal purpose, which nothing can overthrow, for which everything is working, and regarding which He did not take counsel with anyone.

  • Or, plan. The Greek word, oikonomia, means house law, household management or administration, and derivatively, administrative dispensation, plan, economy (see note 1 Tim. 1:43d). The economy that God, according to His desire, planned and purposed in Himself is to head up all things in Christ at the fullness of the times. This is accomplished through the dispensing of the abundant life supply of the Triune God as the life factor into all the members of the church that they may rise up from the death situation and be attached to the Body.

  • The times refers to the ages. The fullness of the times will be when the new heaven and new earth appear after all the dispensations of God in all the ages have been completed. Altogether there are four ages: the age of sin (Adam), the age of the law (Moses), the age of grace (Christ), and the age of the kingdom (the millennium).

  • God made Christ the Head over all things (v. 22). Through all the dispensations of God in all the ages, all things will be headed up in Christ in the new heaven and new earth. That will be God's eternal administration and economy. Thus, the heading up of all things is the issue of all the items covered in vv. 3-9. Verse 22 reveals further that this heading up is to the church so that the Body of Christ may share in all that is of Christ as the Head, having been rescued from the heap of the universal collapse in death and darkness, which was caused by the rebellion of the angels and the rebellion of man. The believers participate in this heading up by being willing to be headed up in the church life, by growing in life, and by living under Christ's light (John 1:4; Rev. 21:23-25). When everything is headed up in Christ, there will be absolute peace and harmony (Isa. 2:4; 11:6; 55:12; Psa. 96:12-13), a full rescue out of the collapse. This will begin from the time of the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21).

  • Lit., the Christ. Referring to the One mentioned in v. 1 and v. 3, the One in whom are the spiritual blessings of God and in whom are the faithful saints, who participate in the blessings. He is a particular One; hence, He is called "the Christ." So also in vv. 12, 20.

  • Or, have obtained an inheritance. The Greek verb means to choose or assign by lot. Hence, this clause literally means that in Christ we were designated as a chosen inheritance. We were designated as an inheritance to inherit God as our inheritance. On the one hand, we have become God's inheritance (v. 18) for God's enjoyment; on the other hand, we inherit God as our inheritance (v. 14) for our enjoyment.

  • Or, marked out beforehand. See note Eph. 1:51a.

  • I.e., plan.

  • God's will is His intention; God's counsel is His consideration of the way to accomplish His will or intention.

  • So much will be worked out by God's abounding grace for and in the believers, the sons of God, who are the center of God's work in the universe, that all the angels and positive things in the universe will praise God and appreciate God's expression (glory). This will take place mainly in the millennium and ultimately in the new heaven and new earth.

  • Or, before. We, the New Testament believers, are those who have first hoped in Christ, that is, in this age. The Jews will have their hope in Christ in the next age. We have hoped in Christ before He comes back to set up His Messianic kingdom.

  • To be sealed with the Holy Spirit is to be marked with the Holy Spirit as a living seal. We have been designated as God's inheritance (v. 11). At the time we were saved, God put His Holy Spirit into us as a seal to mark us out, indicating that we belong to God. The Holy Spirit, who is God Himself entering into us, causes us to bear God's image, signified by the seal, thus making us like God.

  • Of the promise indicates that God planned according to His pleasure to seal us with His Spirit.

  • Or, foretaste, guarantee. I.e., token payment; a partial payment in advance, guaranteeing the full payment. Since we are God's inheritance, the Holy Spirit is a seal upon us. Since God is our inheritance, the Holy Spirit is a pledge to us of this inheritance. God gives His Holy Spirit to us not only as a guarantee of our inheritance, securing our heritage, but also as a foretaste of what we will inherit of God, affording us a taste beforehand of the full inheritance. In ancient times the Greek word for pledge was used in the purchasing of land. The seller gave the purchaser some soil as a sample from the land. Hence, a pledge, according to ancient Greek usage, is also a sample. The Holy Spirit is the sample of what we will inherit of God in full.

  • See note Acts 20:323d. So also in v. 18.

  • Unto the redemption of the acquired possession gives the purpose of the sealing in v. 13. The seal of the Holy Spirit is living, and it works within us to permeate and transform us with God's divine element until we are mature in God's life and eventually fully redeemed, even in our body.

  • Redemption here refers to the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:23), that is, the transfiguration of our body of humiliation into a glorious body (Phil. 3:21). The Holy Spirit today is a guarantee, a foretaste, and a sample of our divine inheritance, until our body is transfigured in glory, at which time we will inherit God in full. The span of God's blessings bestowed on us covers all the crucial points from God's selection in eternity past (v. 4) to the redemption of our body for eternity future.

  • We, God's redeemed ones, the church, are God's possession, which He acquired with the precious blood of Christ (Acts 20:28). In God's economy, God becomes our inheritance and we become God's possession. How marvelous! We give nothing and we get everything! God acquired us at a cost, but we inherit God at no cost. This is to the praise of God's glory.

  • This is the third time a phrase like this is used, this time as an ending to this section (vv. 3-14) concerning God's blessings given to us. Verses 3-6 disclose what God the Father planned for us, that is, to choose us and predestinate us unto sonship to the praise of the glory of His grace. Verses 7-12 reveal how God the Son accomplished what God the Father planned, that is, to redeem us and make us God's inheritance to the praise of His glory. Verses 13-14 tell us how God the Spirit applies to us what God the Son accomplished, that is, to seal us and be the guarantee and foretaste of our eternal, divine inheritance to the praise of God's glory. In the blessings God bestows on us, the glory of the Triune God deserves the threefold praise.

  • Many ancient MSS read, the faith in the Lord Jesus which is among you and which you have toward all the saints.

  • In incarnation the Lord Jesus Christ, God Himself (Phil. 2:6), became a man. As a man He is related to God's creation; therefore, God the Creator is His God. His incarnation brought God the Creator into man, God's creature. He is a man in whom God is incarnated.

  • The title Father implies regeneration, and glory is God expressed. Hence, the Father of glory is the regenerating God expressed through His many sons. We have already been regenerated (1 Pet. 1:3), and we will be glorified in the expression of God's glory (Rom. 8:30).

  • The spirit here must be our regenerated spirit indwelt by the Spirit of God. Such a spirit is given to us by God that we may have wisdom and revelation to know Him and His economy.

  • Wisdom is in our spirit that we may know the mystery of God, and revelation is of God's Spirit that He may show us the vision by opening the veil. First, we have wisdom, the ability to understand, which enables us to know spiritual things; then the Spirit of God reveals the spiritual things to our spiritual understanding.

  • Eyes to see the spiritual things. We have wisdom, the ability to know, and revelation, the revealing of spiritual things. However, we still need eyes, the spiritual faculty of sight (Acts 26:18; Rev. 3:18).

    To have the eyes of our heart enlightened requires that our conscience, mind, emotion, and will, which are the components of our heart, be thoroughly dealt with (cf. note Eph. 3:171). First, we need an open spirit with a conscience purified by our confessing and dealing with our sins and by the sprinkling of the redeeming blood of Christ (Heb. 9:14; 10:22). Next, we need a sober mind (2 Tim. 1:7 and note 2 Tim. 1:72), a loving emotion (John 14:21), and a submissive will (John 7:17) in order to have a pure heart. When we have such a spirit and heart, the eyes of our heart will be able to see.

  • We not only need wisdom, revelation, and eyes to see, but we also need light for the illumination of the things which are unveiled to us, that we may have a vision.

  • The hope of God's calling includes
    1) Christ Himself and the salvation He will bring to us when He comes back (Col. 1:27; 1 Pet. 1:5, 9);
    2) the rapturous transfer from the earthly and physical realm to the heavenly and spiritual sphere, plus glorification (Rom. 8:23-25, 30; Phil. 3:21);
    3) the kingly enjoyment with Christ in the millennium (Rev. 5:10; 2 Tim. 4:18);
    4) the consummate enjoyment of Christ in the New Jerusalem, with the universal and eternal blessings in the new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21:1-7; 22:1-5).

  • God's calling is the sum total of all the blessings listed in vv. 3-14: God the Father's selection and predestination, God the Son's redemption, and God the Spirit's sealing and pledging. When we were called, we participated in the Father's selection and predestination, the Son's redemption, and the Spirit's sealing and pledging.

  • God's glory has its riches, which are the many different items that constitute God's divine attributes, such as light, life, power, love, righteousness, and holiness, expressed to different degrees.

  • First, God made us His inheritance (v. 11a) as His acquired possession (v. 14b) and caused us to participate in all that He is, all that He has, and all that He has accomplished, as our inheritance (v. 14a). Ultimately, all these will become His inheritance in the saints for eternity. This will be His eternal expression, His glory with all His riches, which will express Him to the uttermost universally and eternally.

  • According to the apostle's prayer, the third thing we need to know is the surpassing greatness of God's power toward us. This is very subjective and experiential to us today. God's power toward us is surpassingly great. We need to know it and experience it.

  • The surpassingly great power of God toward us is according to the operation of the might of His strength, which He caused to operate in Christ. God's power toward us is the same as the power that He caused to operate in Christ. Christ is the Head and we are the Body. The Body participates in the power that operates in the Head.

  • First, the power that God caused to operate in Christ raised Christ from the dead. This power has overcome death, the grave, and Hades, where the dead are held. Death and Hades could not hold Christ (Acts 2:24) because of God's resurrection power.

  • Second, the power that God caused to operate in Christ seated Christ at God's right hand in the heavenlies, far above all (v. 21).

  • God's right hand, where Christ was seated by the surpassingly great power of God, is the most honorable place, the place with supreme authority.

  • The heavenlies refers not only to the third heaven, the highest place in the universe, where God dwells, but also to the state and atmosphere of the heavens, in which Christ was seated by God's power.

  • Rule refers to the highest office, authority to every kind of official power (Matt. 8:9), power to the mere might of authority, and lordship to the preeminence that power establishes. Subsequently, we see that what is listed here includes not only the angelic, heavenly authorities, whether good or evil, but also the human, earthly ones. The ascended Christ was seated by the great power of God far above all rule, authority, power, and lordship in the universe.

  • Every name that is named refers not only to titles of honor but also to every name. Christ was seated far above every name that is named not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

  • Third, the power that God caused to operate in Christ subjected all things under His feet. Christ's being far above all is one thing; His having all things subjected under His feet is another. The former is Christ's transcendency; the latter, the subjection of all things to Him.

  • Fourth, God's power that He caused to operate in Christ gave Christ to be Head over all things to the church. Christ's headship over all things is a gift from God to Him. It was through God's surpassingly great power that Christ received the headship in the universe.

    It was as a man, in His humanity with His divinity, that Christ was raised from the dead, was seated in the heavenlies, had all things subjected to Him, and was given to be Head over all things.

    Thus, there are four aspects of the power that operated in Christ: resurrection power (v. 20a), ascending power (v. 20b), subjecting power (v. 22a), and heading-up power (v. 22b). This fourfold power is transmitted to the church, the Body of the Head.

  • To the church implies a kind of transmission. Whatever Christ, the Head, has attained and obtained is transmitted to the church, His Body. In this transmission the church shares with Christ in all His attainments: the resurrection from the dead, His being seated in His transcendency, the subjection of all things under His feet, and the headship over all things.

    Toward us who believe (v. 19) and to the church indicate that the divine power, which includes all that the Triune God has passed through, has been installed into us once for all and is being transmitted into us continually, causing us to enjoy Christ richly and to have the proper church life as His Body, His fullness, the issue of God's blessing mentioned previously.

  • Here this book uses the term church for the first time, pointing out the main subject of this book. The Greek word for church is ekklesia, meaning the called-out congregation. This indicates that the church is a gathering of those who have been called out of the world by God. As such, the church is composed of all the believers in Christ.

  • The Body of Christ is not an organization but an organism constituted of all the regenerated believers for the expression and activities of the Head. The Body of Christ is the issue of the incarnated, crucified, resurrected, and ascended Christ, who has come into the church. By means of the ascended Christ's heavenly transmission, we are made one with Him, and thus His Body is produced.

  • The Body of Christ is His fullness. The fullness of Christ issues from the enjoyment of the riches of Christ (Eph. 3:8). Through the enjoyment of Christ's riches, we become His fullness to express Him.

  • Christ, who is the infinite God without any limitation, is so great that He fills all things in all things. Such a great Christ needs the church to be His fullness for His complete expression.

    In this chapter there are seven crucial things requiring the same basic factor for their accomplishment: God's selection that we should be made holy and without blemish (v. 4); God's predestination that we may become His sons (v. 5); the sealing of the Holy Spirit that we may be fully redeemed (vv. 13-14); the hope of God's calling; the glory of God's inheritance in the saints (v. 18); God's power that causes us to participate in Christ's attainment (vv. 19-22); and the Body of Christ, the fullness of the all-filling Christ. All these are accomplished by the Triune God being dispensed and wrought into our being. The issue of such a divine dispensing into our humanity is the fullness of the One who fills all in all and the praise of God's expressed glory. Actually, this chapter is a revelation of God's marvelous and excellent economy, from His choosing of us in eternity to the producing of the Body of Christ to express Himself for eternity.

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