The ruins of the large city of Ephesus are located on the west coast of Turkey about 2 km from the present-day the town of Selçuk. It was one of the most important centers of culture and commerce in Paul’s day, and featured an active seaport on the Aegean Sea front.
The city was the location of the great Temple of Artemis – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and the largest building in the world at that time. Hardy any of it remains today, notably a solitary column which originally was over fifty feet in height.
Located on a prominent thoroughfare in the city one may view a sculptor’s concept of the bizarre goddess herself ... her multiple breasts emphasizing that she represented fertility!
The city is also home to the Library of Celsus – a magnificent structure whose façade has been reconstructed from its ruined fragments. Reputed to be the second largest library of the ancient world (Alexandria, Egypt, was the largest) it held an estimated 12,000 scrolls.
It is also the location of the largest Roman theater ever excavated which seats 25,000 persons. It is commonly the site of various theatrical and musical performances each year. This writer visited Ephesus around the turn of the 21st century and can attest that a normal speaking voice on the stage of the theater may be heard distinctly in the topmost tiers of seats in the enormous structure. It was here that Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s companions, were dragged before an huge throng who chanted “Great is Diana of the Ephesians” by the space of about two hours (Acts 19: 34).
Paul begins his epistle with the familiar reference to himself as “an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.” Those words establish his authority as well as any could! He addresses the saints of Ephesus, defining them as the faithful in Christ Jesus.
Eph 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Eph 1:2 Grace (Greek, charis) be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
By addressing his readers in this manner, Paul sends them his warmest greetings for grace from God and His Son, by which he means their divine influence upon their hearts and its reflection in their lives. It is identical to his greetings to the recipients of his letters to the Romans, to the Corinthians (II Cor. 1:2), to Galatia and to Titus.
Eph 1:3 Blessed (adorable) be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed (spoken a blessing upon) us with all spiritual blessings (commendation) in heavenly places in Christ:
Notice the triple reference to blessings in this verse, for each of which I have noted possibly the best meanings. These are three forms of reference to divine assistance or commendation both to Deity and back to His creation. These are derived from Strong’s G2127, eulogao, “to speak well of or invoke a benediction upon.”
Eph 1:4 According as he hath chosen (0r selected) us in him (His own name) before the foundation (the word even carries the meaning of conception!) of the world (kosmos, the nature of things), that we should be holy (hagios, or sacred – morally blameless) and without blame before him in love:
My apologies for having to insert so many glosses in this verse but it is so richly endowed with deep, spiritual meaning that we felt it necessary.
The compound phrase states clearly that each bona fide Believer – baptized adherent of the doctrines of salvation as given by Jesus Christ – has been especially chosen of the Father before He created the kosmos – or the earth as we know it.
Whether we wish to agree or not, that is the meaning of Paul’s statement. But it does NOT indicate that which is fallaciously believed by some ... that “once ‘saved,’ every person is always ‘saved!’” – that is, it does NOT mean that any selected and ‘sainted’ one can go about committing every known sin and still expect salvation – an absurd, ridiculous irrational construct! Even THAT impossibility is put to death within the concept as we understand it!
[Readers who may be interested in further research into the principle of Election may wish to consult this article on our website: February: The Mystery of Election.]
The verse sets the stage for Paul’s next phrases which present his objective meaning that is extremely controversial among the spiritual thinkers of mankind.
The principle is that of predestination. (There! I’ve said it in unmistakable terms!)
The principle has to do with election – or selection – of those who shall be heirs of salvation, with whom the sublime angels of heaven are intimately connected – as “ministers to those who shall be heirs to salvation (Hebrews 1:14).”
Eph 1:5 Having predestinated (Greek, proorizo, to limit in advance, or to ordain) us unto the adoption (Greek, uihothesia, the placing of a son, or children, in God’s family) of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
Our Father’s special property of knowing the end from the beginning is a distinct advantage! That property is intimately joined with the principles of “predestination.”
The LORD Jesus famously said, “Fear not little flock. It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom!” Luke 12: 32.
That property of generosity has been referenced in Paul’s preceding words: “according to His good pleasure!” His self-determination cannot be fathomed by mere human beings; their finite minds cannot grasp the concept in all its meanings and implications... but it is a mark of extreme generosity and liberality (agape, or charity) on His part.
Eph 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
We look upon these explanatory phrases here recorded by Paul as a divine revelation of the character of this mysterious process – and we do regard it as a sheer mystery – for who can know the mind of our Creator and our Father?
It is entirely His prerogative as to whom He awards immortality, for that is the end process of the principle explained here) and directly impacts those to whom is thus given the special privilege of becoming a kingly priest in His eternal kingdom, to reign upon the earth (Revelation 5: 10)...
Further explanation is hardly necessary for the earnest student of the Gospel, but Paul leaves his readers in no doubt whatsoever as to his meaning: that such an one, being so selected (elected) is the subject of redemption... forgiveness of sin ... atonement. That is summarily a process which entirely reverses the curse placed upon Adam and his posterity as a consequence of his sin of partaking of the forbidden fruits of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Cf., Genesis Three.
Eph 1:7 In whom we have redemption (full ranson; deliverance from death) through his (shed) blood, the forgiveness of sins (an unintentional lapse, or deviation), according to the riches of his grace (His charis, or liberality);
Eph 1:8 Wherein he hath abounded (Greek, to be superfluous, or extremely abundant) toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
That in itself is an expression of the Father’s extreme liberality – His universal tendency to over-provide with great generosity.
Does the heavenly expanse actually require six hundred sextillion planets (stars) for its integrity?
Perhaps not ... but He has produced an excessive number of many of the natural elements of nature in order to accomplish His purpose.
Consider the enormous, incomprehensible number of human sperm cells that are produced by every man – yet in a lifetime of childbearing only ONE of these ubiquitous and miraculous cells is successful in bringing about each discrete birth event!
Consider the number of leaves on all the trees of the earth in the same context ... or the incomprehensible variety of the snowflakes that fall upon all portions of the earth in only one season – none of them being identical to any other!
Consider the number of grains of sand associated with all the oceans and deserts of the entire earth – can these be counted? It has been estimated by scientific minds that the number of stars or planets in the heavens is approximately the number of all the grains of sand that adorn the beaches of the earth and populate its deserts!
The enormity of it is beyond comprehensible!
And finally, consider the seemingly endless patience that our Father exercises toward those who are his elect – forgiving each one more than “seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22), for His standards are doubtless set well above those that He asks of us!!
Our Father has no inhibition retarding His generosity of provision for us!
And that quality applies to His propensity to award life in His Kingdom to the least of His creation...
And though we deserve no such privilege, He has favored each and every one of us in such a manner, attesting to us for our much-needed support in the faith ... the mystery of His will, a generous benefit which He alone has decided upon within the context of His Purpose ... truly a great mystery in itself!
Eph 1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
Ever the teacher of divine principles, Paul elaborates:
Eph 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
“The fullness of times” phrases the Almighty’s Purpose fitfully as indicating the perfect unification of “all things in Christ,” Who is the crux of all things, according to His eternal Purpose.
It should not be a foreign notion to any Believer: our Father has a perfectly-formed Plan for man’s redemption ... and for the perfection of His original creation.
For everything there is a time and a season as fully expounded in the wonderful concepts of the third chapter of Ecclesiastes.
That Plan is exhaustive and comprehensive beyond all human estimation.
Paul’s words, “the fullness of times,” utilize a phrase which he repeats only one other time, referring, also of course, to our Father’s timetable ... “But when the fulness of the time was come (the previously appointed date), God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law...” Galatians 4:4.
Both these events are intimately associated with the perfect closure of His Plan and Purpose with man and with the earth... indeed the appearance of His Son on a perfect schedule leads directly to Paul’s allusion above of “... gather(ing) together in one all things in Christ.”
The arrival of His Son was foretold in a perfect revelation given to the Prophet Daniel in his chapter 9: 24-27 as “The Prophecy of the Seventy Weeks.” It foretold the exact year of Jesus’ birth of the virgin, Mary, at the beginning of the seventieth week of that time span, which was BC4 in our common reckoning.
It consequently also foretold the exact time of his sacrifice and all subsequent events that are addressed in detail in that prophecy (which are of secondary concern here).
If there be further interest in this prophecy by any reader a comprehensive study of it may be found on our website at July: Aspects of the Seventy Weeks Prophecy of Daniel 9. It is the July insertion of Studies in Prophecy (eTPL) in July, 2016 (see sidebar for location).
Eph 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
Eph 1:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
By the translators’ interpretation, Paul’s thought (and consequently, this sentence) began in verse 7 – typical of the long-running expressions by which Paul revealed the “mystery” that is ensconced selectively in the initiated followers of our Father’s divine instructions. For, you see, a scriptural “mystery” is not an un-knowable set of facts or concepts; instead, it is a body of information that is made known only to a selected (elected!) few recipients – all being members of His “body.”
Eph 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, (that “sealing” is seen in the miracle of speaking in foreign languages seen on the first Pentecost after His resurrection: Acts 2).
Eph 1:14 Which is the earnest (namely, a pledge of security, or a validating promise) of our inheritance until the redemption (the actual receipt) of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
By this temporal means, the Almighty illustrated what He had meant when he foretold these events to the Prophet Joel in 2: 28-32. See Acts 2: 16.
His long greeting to the Ephesian brethren now complete, Paul connects all those effusive words with the conjunction “wherefore,” linking all those previous greetings with the reason for his epistle...
Eph 1:15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
Eph 1:16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
The fifteenth verse does not indicate what it seems to mean on the surface. It sounds as Paul had never been to Ephesus and had had nothing to do with their establishment as an Ecclesia of Christ. But Paul was the first preacher as far as we can determine, to reach Ephesus and to preach the Truth of Jesus Christ to the people. It was his main base of missionary activity for many months during his Second and Third Missionary Journeys.
But he was writing this letter to them several years after his last visit, and wished to know of their status at the present time as well as to encourage them in the faith that he had taught them...
He prays for their renewal in the faith, and of the faithful extension of their earlier frame of understanding of the Gospel. Typically, his compound sentence is extended (to seven verses)!
Eph 1:17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
Whether consciously or not, Paul renews his often-practiced careful definition of God as the father of the LORD Jesus Christ and as a separate and distinct Being – not a member of a trinity of gods as some were already preaching.
God’s wisdom would have supported them in this belief – the blessed enlightenment of all those who were the called and elected sons and daughters of the Almighty.
The mystery of their calling was not widely realized by others of their society but was closely-held by the elect of God at that place. Their realistic hope defined The hope of Israel which Paul had evoked as the basis for his “bonds” as he journeyed to Rome (see Acts 28: 20).
Eph 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
Eph 1:19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
No “enlightened” (vs. 18) person among them should have to guess the magnitude of God’s power, for they had been tutored carefully as to its strength in Paul’s testimony as to the resurrection of Christ after suffering a violent death at Jerusalem.
This was indeed the basis of their hope – its sure foundation of efficacy – the “earnest” of their expectation having been demonstrated and confirmed by the impressive demonstration on the day of Pentecost (vs. 14).
Eph 1:20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
In so stating his last phrase, Paul affirms their conviction also that not only had God raised His Son from the dead, but that He had established Jesus at His own right hand beside His throne in the heavens – there, securely above all principality, power, might, and dominion to exercise His own privilege of intercession for His brethren as in Romans 8: 34.
Eph 1:21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
Jesus’ unabashed position of supremacy in his role as the sole Intercessor for his brethren is positioned as far above “every name that is named....”
It is an unassailable advantage for His brethren, for who could have a more effective Advocate than the Son, Who had suffered all the insults which he had absorbed on their behalf and then have been raised from the dead in the most tangible expression of the approval of His Father!
In so being treated by His Father, Jesus had had all things placed subject to Him – and had been given the headship over the affairs of all the Ecclesias...
Paul continues with a clear definition of exactly what he means, telling them it is that ... Which is His Body (the universal Ecclesia) to which is extended the infinite benefits of His fullness – that their bodies shall be like it in the day when they reach the Year of the Redeemed, and the final consolation of their souls...
Eph 1:22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
Eph 1:23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
<HEL> ~3,000 words. Ephesians One. March 13, 2021.
Paul now continues to exhort them and reinforce their present state of redemption, reminding them as to how grateful and appreciative they should be to have been so delivered. Indeed, they have been delivered from the death state (certainty of eternal death) – for only death should have been their destiny had they not now have been called unto Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Bringing the contrast into greater relief, he reviews some of the sordid details of their former lives, revealing graphically the vast differences between their two states of being...
Eph 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (the phrase refers to natural, animalistic life; respiration – merely gentle breathing), the spirit (the pneuma, or physical disposition; it belies any spiritual consciousness) that now worketh in the children of disobedience (Greek, apaitheia, obstinate and rebellious disbelief):
His discourse describes the conditions common to all men who are without Christ in the world, consisting of no worth above the paltry values of the compelling forces of the flesh and the mind of man, being by nature “the children of wrath” as are all merely fleshly men – uncalled, and unwashed - unredeemed.
Eph 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
The word picture is horrendously bleak; among natural men and women there is no better level of being possible to be attained. They are collectively condemned to nothingness in the end!
There is a great contrast that is evident to the enlightened mind: that God is able and willing to raise ambitious, searching, intensely determined men and women above that low estate by His effusive quality of grace; but their response to Him is essential.
Eph 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy (Greek, eleos – divine compassion), for his great love (Greek, agape) wherewith he loved us,
Eph 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us (reanimated us, conjointly, just as He had done with Christ) together with Christ, (by grace (Greek, charis, gracious favor, freely given) ye are saved;)
Eph 2:6 And hath raised us up (meaning, revivified us spiritually) together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
Their elevation of situation is singular among the races of men, and reflects the abundance of His grace – His unmerited favor – for no man can “earn” salvation, which was now their destiny by means of His sheer grace!
Eph 2:7 That in the ages to come (he refers in these phrases to the Kingdom age) he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace (charis) in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
Only then can they become fully evident to all, for that is the arena of their activation and execution...
Eph 2:8 For by grace (charis) are ye saved through faith (Greek, pistis, or credence – conviction of religious truth) ; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift (in Greek, a doron, a sacrifice or offering) of God:
Perhaps his audience was about to overlook the source of that gift; it was not the result of any effort or initiative that was put forth by them (their personal works) but was the free gift of God much like a sacrifice on His part... a quality that eliminated such human failings as boasting of one’s own accomplishments.
Eph 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
In the light of these factors, one principle becomes crystal clear. Paul elaborates it in equally clear terms ... we are His workmanship – the objects of His creation in and through the good offices of Christ Jesus – an operation which liberally equips its subjects only then, with the capability of doing effectively “good” works – a practically futile effort short of the Kingdom age.
This end was his objective from the beginning ... that His children should so conduct their lives!
Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created (actually, re-created) in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Good works done under any other guise are dead works (Hebrews 6: 1 and 9: 14).
Eph 2:11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
He is now addressing raw idolatrous Gentiles – pagan citizens of the Roman city of Ephesus, not those local Jews who persisted in their firmness of belief that components of the Law were necessary to pursue as followers of Christ – Judaisers ... Pharisees ... Scribes at heart.
But both groups were formerly in ignorance of the higher concepts of salvation in Christ Jesus!
As such, their condition was desperate and fruitless...
Eph 2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens (as frank non-participants in His blessings!) from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers (meaning the same as “alien”) from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
Even the run-of-the-mill “Christian” of today probably does not possess this refined level of understanding of the “hope of Israel,” for that is the principle which Paul is reciting here: the expectation through Christ of inheriting the covenants of promises made to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob ... and to their Seed, who is Christ – Galatians 3: 16, 29: 2 Timothy 2: 8.
These faithful witnesses of old have no expectation of an inheritance beyond the skies and in the very presence of God Himself. The concept is alien and directly in opposition to every expressed doctrine of both the OT and the NT.
Furthermore the critical connection is made through contact with the blood of Christ – otherwise described as “the blood of the everlasting covenant” (Hebrews 13: 20) which is so powerful that it was the operational factor in the resurrection of Jesus from the grave. Hebrews 13: 20, q.v.
That blood is marked (smeared) forever ONLY upon the corpus of every soul who has knowledgably elected to submit to whole-body immersion into the name of Christ.
That divinely decreed ritual marks each recipient with the sacrificial blood of the Paschal Lamb of God just as surely as did the symbolic blood of the sacrificial lambs of Passover mark the doorposts and lintels of the hovels in Egypt which housed the shuttered and locked Hebrew slaves who huddled together, being passed over by the death angel of that dreadful night, awaiting the clarion call to go forth from this land of bondage and godlessness into the Land of Milk and Honey to which their Savior, the antitypical Moses, would lead them.
The mournful, desperate wails of the Egyptian populous could be heard by every soul being snatched from that land of the dead into the bright future which awaited them in the east ... toward the sunrise...
As of the date of this writing, the faithful covenant-holders of Jesus Christ of this era are similarly huddled together behind their closed and locked doors (Isaiah 26: 20), marked with the same blood of liberation from death, awaiting deliverance from this present order of godless chaos into the glorious liberty of the Sons (and Daughters) of God.
Such an hope marks all its adherents as being drawn to the Father (and made nigh) by the blood of Christ...
The contrast with their counterparts of the world are as great as to be bipolar – complete opposites as to outlook and prospect.
Eph 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes (formerly) were far off are made nigh (were brought into close proximity – into the distinct prospect of salvation!) by the blood of Christ.
Eph 2:14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
Only Christ could abolish the first condition in favor of the second – only He could bring unity of a blessed destiny to all those, both Jews and Gentiles, who were communally in such an untenable condition as being dead to the hope of the Promises, aliens from the possibility of Life forevermore – and introduce everlasting joy and bring to life their prospects of real Service to His Name and Purposes.
The “middle wall of partition” indeed!
That “middle wall” was the barrier – it was the veil of the flesh and its limitations ... the partition standing in the way of their liberation – a structure which He has abolished by His righteous life and His sacrificial death – nailing it securely to the stauros upon which He was hung by crucifixion nails of some ten inches in length which pierced His hands and His feet. Romans 6: 6; 8: 3, qv.
The Law was that culprit, synonymous with the flesh of man – the more universal barrier!
Eph 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
Although Paul omits mentioning it in this reference, the Law was a barrier only to the Jews that were subject to it, for they could not possibly live up to its elevated standards of God’s righteousness. The Gentiles were held back by another barrier – one that was also common with the Jewish people. That law was the law of sin and death apart from the Law of Moses, and had been placed upon the entire race after Adam had partaken of the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden’s Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 3: 19).
In dying His sacrificial death, the Lord Jesus brought both curses to a sudden end – abolishing them ... relegating them to the dustbin of history, and liberating everyone who should enter into covenant relationship with Paul’s Instructor and Savior (and ours as well), Jesus Christ. Such was the substance of reconciliation with their Creator – and of their justification: their complete separation from the sin that separated them from their Creator ... its removal and destruction for all time.
Eph 2:16 And that he might reconcile both (both Jew and Gentile) unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity (Greek, echthra, their hostility, or their opposing force) thereby:
Eph 2:17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
Here is further definition of the difference between Jews and Gentiles. The latter were “afar off” from His presence and favor. They had never been included in His closed operations except as vile enemies of His chosen people – and had been universally condemned from the beginning.
On the other hand, the Jews had been “made nigh (near)” for ages. To them YHVH had expressed His favor time and again, notably beginning at Mount Sinai and the giving of the Law. But their special favor had been received long before that time in the blessing pronounced upon Abram in Ur ... and extending back even further – to the enunciation of God’s intention to provide an effectual Seed of the Woman Who should abolish sin...
That perfect peace comes with the demolition of that old partition – and the conference upon His people of a better end to their struggles and aspirations.
As Paul had admonished in another place – in his letter to Philippi, writing words of urgency to his brethren in Christ: Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Only by that benevolent sacrifice of the entire life of Christ could this goal be achieved... could such perfect unity be accomplished.
Eph 2:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Their new status soars above all previous expectations.
Enemies who had never recognized that quality in themselves now might luxuriate in the peace that passes all understanding, now relieved of a penalty (death) of which they had no previous suspicion or fear!
Eph 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
The unity that has been bestowed upon them is inestimable in its prospects – incalculable as to its value as both converted Jews and Gentiles move forward toward the prospect of eternal security under the shadow of His wings ... one household, one family, now lacking any barriers to fellowship with Him and His Son ... built upon the Rock of Ages – His word, written by the hand of inspired workmen, based upon the sure foundation of Jesus Christ Himself!
Eph 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
Eph 2:21 In whom all the building (household) fitly framed (closely joined!) together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
A temple is an edifice in which God dwells. His point is warmly applicable to Paul’s human readers, for they too are an edifice in which God must dwell. He is seen widely in nature, yes; but his will is actively expressed and honored only in living, loving adherents to His Way...
In this magnificent way His expressed will may be carried out in living, sentient, and responsive beings who consistently strive to give Him first consideration in their mundane existence ... thereby becoming perfected in Him by providing Him expression in their lives...
Eph 2:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. <HEL> ~2,300 words. Ephesians Two. March 17, 2021.
In this portion of the parchment we see another brilliant example of the inner workings of Paul’s fertile mind ... his deeply appreciative, widely comprehensive perception of the ponderous concept of salvation through Christ Jesus and of his own election as the purveyor of it to the Gentiles.
He begins this portion with a preposition, “For...” but does not get to the object of that preposition until we reach the sixth verse!
The object of this portion of his dissertation is to reinforce the principle that “the Gentiles should be fellow heirs ... of the same body ... partakers of the Father’s promise” by the operation of the Gospel of Christ that is common to them both.
He is writing to them from a defensive position in the eyes of some beholders – persons who might discount Paul’s authority to conduct such a ministry were they ignorant of his preceding process of deposition to God’s service ... his personal appointment by the Master to the task at hand...
Ephesians 3:1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner (Greek, desmios, a bound captive) of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,
Eph 3:2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
Paul did not assume this role on his own volition.
Indeed, it was the furthest removed task that he could have imagined.
When struck by the bright light on the road to Damascus, he held in his travel bag a deposition from the Sanhedrin which qualified him as bounty hunter of the first order, equipped with the highest rabbinical authority to persecute and hound relentlessly the followers of that Man Whom he now avidly served!
Fortunately, he was not allowed to “kick against the pricks” (a reference to ox-goads, for Paul was a stubborn bull!) that would soon turn his life around full circle, and award to him as well as his future hearers the gift of life against all odds that could be imagined!
Eph 3:3 How that by revelation He (the Master Himself) made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore (at a prior time) in few words,
Eph 3:4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand (the entire basis for) my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
He reinforces the unlikelihood of it by his reference again to its being a “mystery” – a principle which is not unknown, but which is known by so few as to be almost universally misunderstood in the manner in which he is stressing, but one which he immediately engages in explaining to his readers.
Eph 3:5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
Not only was it known to this select group – it was also elaborated upon by them as “holy men of God,” as referenced by Peter in his second epistle: “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2Peter 1:21.
Those revelations were not revealed notionally by these servants in any way, but were mandated by the Spirit of YHVH to those especially selected persons (those being called out) – who He was pleased to enlighten in His Way in this supremely advantageous revelation of the approaching unification of every willing being composing the entire pool of mankind.
That destiny was as Paul had written to his beloved “brethren in the Lord” in 2 Thessalonians 2: 14: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Thus was validated for every knowledgeable Believer the long-standing promise to Abram that “in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 12:3.
And how should that blessing be accomplished?
By their new composition as fellows together of the hope of His promises in Christ by their having heard the Gospel...
Eph 3:6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
And even now he cannot restrain himself from tacking on his own inherent qualification to execute this high office – this Ministry to the Gentiles of the grace of God...
Eph 3:7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power (Greek, dunamis, His miraculous power).
Eph 3:8 Unto me (not to ministers in general in this case, but to Paul specifically), who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace (charis) given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
Eph 3:9 And to make all men (by which he means all who are susceptible, to) see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God (thus was largely a mystery), who created all things by Jesus Christ:
In this statement regarding the “creation of all things” Paul is repeating his earlier assertion of the NEW creation of which Jesus Christ IS the Creator as appointed by His Father to the task. He refers not to the physical creation as mentioned in 2 Peter 3:4, but to the spiritual creation of Revelation 3: 14. [See Ephesians 1: 21-23, which concerns the spiritual body of Christ resulting in the New Creation that will comprise the coming Kingdom of God, the details of which are addressed in I Corinthians 15: 25-27....]
Ever the thorough technician in the fine art of communications, the apostle continues to offer his credentials by citing the success he has achieved within Caesar’s hearth...
Eph 3:10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
Eph 3:11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:
Paul is here rehearsing for their benefit his own present circumstances as a successful, stealthy, and clandestine agent now embedded in the very household of Caesar, who is making inroads into that regent’s authority and power by converting at least some of his retinue to the power of the Gospel of Christ (see Philippians 4: 22).
Is his insertion there a danger to him?
Possibly; but Paul is undeterred.
We remember immediately the stated destiny of Paul spoken in the revelation of the LORD Jesus to Ananias of Damascus who had expressed his fear of approaching Saul as recorded in Acts 9:13 – “Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. 15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:”
Not only did Paul have opportunity to stand before Caesar at his own request, but he also testified of the truth of the Gospel before Pilate (governor of Judea) and before Felix the governor at Jerusalem, and after that before Festus (Acts 25: 9) at Caesarea Maritima.
Paul showed no reticence to reveal his faith in the Plan of God and to expound the Gospel on every occasion.
Eph 3:12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
But “boldness” and “confidence” did not mean arrogance or presumption of God’s grace.
As always was his firm custom, Paul prayed unceasingly for those who heard his teachings of the Gospel, feeding, watering, fertilizing and caring for the tender recipients hoping for any increase from the divine throne of glory (cf., I Corinthians 3: 7).
Often such persistence led to Paul’s long index of personal injury both physical and mental, recalled by him in words recorded in II Corinthians 11: 23-28, q.v. All these incidents were part and parcel of his “tribulations” suffered for them...
Eph 3:13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
However, rather than express open regret for these detrimental effects upon his person, he instead thanks the Almighty for allowing him to suffer in these profound ways. These challenges have strengthened Paul’s will ... not weakened them ... and had hardened his determination to pursue the way of Christ even more ardently ... which shows openly that he realized that his example of fortitude – of dogged determination – was a witness to those who listened to his teachings about Christ and His salvation.
Eph 3:14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Eph 3:15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
This concept is perhaps at the base of the Jews’ convention of referring to the Father as Ha Shem – The Name – rather than as “God,” which is the reason for its importance of clarity in the hearts of Believers – that their hope is in the unifying factor of The Name of Christ, which is also the same Name as that of the Almighty: the designation of His family ... of an only begotten Son and of multitudes of adopted children.)
Such deeply aware appreciation results in profound strength for those who become holders of this concept ... and the indwelling of Christ by His Spirit becomes their guiding beacon...
Eph 3:16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
Eph 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
Eph 3:18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
Although he does not say so in this place, such deeply felt and sincerely expressed respect for our Lord and His Plan also affects how we try to communicate his love to those who listen to our words ... and those who listened to Paul’s words.
In his epistle to the Colossians he had admonished them to “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Colossians 4:6.
Kind, loving words of instruction tendered with empathy for the feelings and plight of every listener militates for their likelihood of hearing the words spoken ... and of their following the teachings conveyed, with the much greater likelihood of good fruits being produced by all who hear His instruction...
Eph 3:19 And to know the love (Greek, agape, or unearned favor) of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
The apostle’s widely-lauded closing words of his interim loving prayer for the Ephesian brethren belies his profound feelings for them, and his deep desire for their overpowering blessings exceeding their most extreme imagination.
Such is the character and abundance, in our thinking, of the enormity of the reward for faithful service to Ha Shem as embodied in the relatively simple concept that He will award immortality to all whose hearts are imbued with the Father’s deeply purposeful requirements leading up to that reward – and who have embarked upon a paltry (“paltry” only in man’s estimation!) period of service in the name of the Father and His Son, of a few decades ... or a few years ... or even a few months or even days harnessed securely and zealously in their service with sincerity and conviction and determination ... and with deep desire to bring honor to the Almighty.
Only such a course of conduct can adequately prepare one for the greatest gift that can be conceived for those who are faithful to the end...
The comparison between these two extremes have no known human equivalence, and express as well as any could, the gargantuan, incomprehensible, humanly un-knowable compassion of our beloved Creator and loving Father for His children.
Eph 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power (again, the Gk. is dunamis, the miraculous power) that worketh in us,
Eph 3:21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. <HEL> ~2,100 words. Ephesians Three. March 17, 2021.
The apostle’s first phrase of this chapter may be considered a not-so-subtle wordplay revolving around his current status as a prisoner of Rome, bound captive there awaiting his trial for treason before Caesar. In that very obvious circumstance, he is a “prisoner of the Lord,” because his allegiance to his Master has directly resulted in his imprisonment.
That “imprisonment” was not necessarily a matter of his own volition – for Paul could simply have kept his views to himself and avoided all the trouble he is now experiencing. He should never under those circumstances have been accused of insurrection.
But Paul is also a prisoner of a deeper sort – a feature of his life which would not be known to a casual observer of Paul; he is bound tightly in the service of Jesus Christ much more positively than he is bound to his Roman guards. And this status of being such a prisoner is altogether of his own volition – well, in a manner of speaking (he could have refused the commission at Damascus to preach Christ to the Gentiles – but he did not).
He has reminded his readers that he was “called” to his present course of conduct – of preaching Christ to the Gentiles. Ephesians 3: 7. He could have refused that calling and avoided the colossal inconveniences to which his flesh has been subjected. But he responded positively to his Master’s call and took upon himself the character of servant to the LORD for the remainder of his life – he adopted a “profession” in that sense – a lifelong assignment of preaching salvation to the unwashed masses of Gentiles.
And he is quick to point out ... his accepted followers were also “called” in the same manner.
Eph 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
We learn from these words that Paul considers his listeners to be following a “vocation” (we often term it a calling), or a “profession.”
Romans 8:28-30 is a progressive picture of one’s step-wise advance within that “calling” going inevitably ahead toward the ultimate goal of immortality (or “glorification”) – a pathway in which is included the vital element of a “profession,” for such a practice is the considered descriptor of Paul’s entire life – and one which he commends to all who hear him.
Note carefully how Paul perceives his own conception by his description of the Plan and the outworking of it in his life – the end of which had not yet been reached – in which he assures the reader that it shall result in glorification!
The process began with the foreknowledge of God – a quality willingly conceded by those who know Him and the character of His being. He foreknew that Paul would respond positively because he knows all things from the beginning to the infinite end...
In His foreknowledge, then, God predestined Paul for his response, by which he means that God purposed that end for Paul (in light of His previous knowledge of Paul’s willingness to accept it).
Based on those earlier determinations, He then called Paul to his present occupation, or profession. This is the event that had captured Paul on the Damascus road...
In that calling, God justified Paul through allowing (indeed, requiring) him to partake in the sacrifice of Christ through baptism into His name ... Acts 9: 18.
And finally, he recognizes his ongoing journey as progressing within the framework of justification toward the end of the journey.
As Paul states the conclusion of the process in Romans 8, the final milepost is glorification – the prize of the high calling as the apostle had expressed it to the Philippian brethren: Philippians 3:14 - I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
See how completely Paul summarizes the entire process as he exhorts the Roman brethren. All those incremental movements along the pathway of life are illustrative of “walking worthy of the vocation (profession) wherewith ye are called.”
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
It is a journey to be undertaken in the complete absence of arrogance or egotism. Notice that every adjective he uses in his next sentence points to abject modesty of service – deference to the needs of others ... never chiefly looking out for ‘self.’
His last phrase seems to give recognition that oftentimes such an attitude will require much resistance to feelings of anger or annoyance with others – a recognition of life’s frail moments as one strives to ‘put up with’ the foibles – the inevitable idiosyncrasies – of others?
The statement shows clearly that Paul had an excellent understanding of human nature!
Eph 4:2 With all lowliness (modesty, humiliation of mind) and meekness (gentleness), with longsuffering (fortitude, or patience), forbearing (literally, ‘putting up with!’) one another in love;
The object of this supreme effort to live in humility with our brethren has one worthy goal: the unity of the Spirit, with the members united in one body by strong spiritual ties...
Eph 4:3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond (the Greek word seems to be a medical term; it means tying together a joint, or a ligament) of peace.
Such a course of action assures that the body of Christ is not put asunder, and that the aspirations of all remain focused on their common goal – their glorious hope – with all members serving that cause without rancor or discord.
Eph 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
Eph 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
Eph 4:6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Paul’s last phrases (vv. 4-6) point out the dominant characteristics of the One Faith – oneness in all things: body, Spirit, hope of calling, Lord, faith, baptism, and God, Who is supreme. Furthermore, each member has a distinct calling within that overall framework...
Eph 4:7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
Now expanding their perception of the great benefit of their calling, Paul employs a well-placed metaphor in asserting that, by Jesus’ ascension to the heavens He must be more deeply be perceived as having led “captivity ... captive.” That is, he took death into His own custody and destroyed it in His own person, thus leading the way for that accomplishment in all his brethren; they shall do the same in due time... a memorable way to say that He had overcome death and was leading others in the same paths.
Eph 4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
However, the enormous progress that the Master had made is set against an awkward beginning of the process. Before He could rise to higher levels he was required first to descend to the lowest depths ... into the “lower parts” of the earth – i.e., the grave.
Eph 4:9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
So there can be no misunderstanding, Paul reassures his readers that the Person who ascended into the heavens is the identical person who first descended into the grave. That first humilification was appropriate prior to His elevation.
It is an entirely relevant point to make, because today there is actually a group of religious people who deny that the Jesus Christ of human nature was even raised from the dead.
The “Jehovah’s Witnesses” claim that the Jesus that came forth from the grave in Gethsemane was a new creation which had no practical relationship to its predecessor. But here is clear contradiction of that claim which they promote as mystery!
Eph 4:10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.
Paul seems to be stressing the vast importance of that process happening as it did, and implies that as a result of that miraculous operation upon Him, Jesus is was now able to appoint others of varying offices and levels of responsibility to carry on His teachings among those who should become Believers; he enumerates them ... and gives the ponderous reasons behind their divine appointments: acting to perfect (refine) the saints, to minister to their brethren, to bring encouragement to the brethren , or edification of the body – the congregation – of Christ.
Eph 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Eph 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Those applied efforts should lead to a common goal as voiced earlier by the apostle – leading to their perfection just like their Master, the fullness of Christ!
Eph 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Such subjects should become responsible and mature – and be no longer “children,” whose conduct is erratic and unpredictable, and often irresponsible in numerous ways.
In such a case they should be refined and seasoned against erratic doctrines and other human deception resulting in their loss to the body of Christ ... and to their demise.
Eph 4:14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
The subsequent history of the Ecclesia of Christ illustrates the reality of this expressed fear, for it is evident that wolves clad in sheep’s clothing (according to their earlier warning (Matthew 7: 15) crept into the household without detection of the elders who were in charge, and led away true believers by great droves – led them away into the false doctrines and ungodly practices which we behold unchecked in the world of “religion” today, belying their ever having possessed the Truth of God’s scriptures or having practiced them diligently for a time...
Paul’s fervent desire is for the opposite outcome: that the brethren be focused on the sure foundation of Truth, conveying it to their fellows with deep affection in order to promote the growth of the brotherhood into a united body, maturing into Jesus’ character in every way, emulating and aspiring to the nature and identity of their Master.
Eph 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him (cf., vs. 13) in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Eph 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together (there is that special medical term again, meaning to ligate (tie) a joint together as a knee or an elbow; here it is the effectual binder together of the entire body!) and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
Those deeply penetrating thoughts illustrate the depths of Paul’s comprehension of what is required for bodily unity – be it a physical body or a spiritual one; each has the same basic needs of inter-workability – of coordinated functionality – to the end that the best outcome is achieved either in physical life on the one hand, or in spiritual life on the other hand ... and that achievement revolves around their conduct (their “walk”).
Eph 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
The Gentiles have a deficiency of understanding – a powerful force which keeps them separated from spiritual Truth in general. Even when such profess Christ in a stereotypical format of being “converted” and “saved,” their understanding is so dimmed as to be blinding to them. Acceptance of Christ cannot be accomplished by merely stating that intention. That realization points up the surpassing importance of an accurate and complete acquaintance with the articles of salvation as taught by Jesus and His disciples. To have a lesser appreciation of Him and His Truth amounts to blindness of heart.
Eph 4:18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
Such subjects lack the appreciation of fidelity to Him, and revert to their own desires -
Eph 4:19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness (licentiousness, or filthy wantonness), to work all uncleanness (immorality) with greediness.
Such is the state of the man or woman following their untutored natural tendencies. But the Ephesians that Paul has known are not such people. Their manner of living has shown that they follow a different course of life.
Eph 4:20 But ye have not so learned Christ;
Eph 4:21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
Eph 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation (course of life) the old man (typified by Adam), which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
Eph 4:23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
His next words are consistent with Paul’s deepest convictions ... his most profound quest: putting on the NEW man (Christ) in contrast to following the old man (Adam), for the former is the godly tutor to which they must devote their lives. Only in Him may be found those godly qualities of “righteousness and true holiness.”
Eph 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Their demeanor is thus clearly marked out, and militates for upright, straightforward relations with every man, especially with those of the household of faith.
There follows a short discourse in higher living – that is uprightness – as the apostle recounts several of the factors of their “former conversation.” Note well the underlined sins...
Eph 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
Eph 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Eph 4:27 Neither give place to the (influence of the) devil (Greek, diabolos, or slanderer – those who peddle falsehoods of all kinds).
Eph 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
Note the exact opposite characteristics of these two traits: stealing is taking away something that does not belong to you; giving to the needy is giving something that does belong to you away to someone who needs it more than you. Righteousness versus wickedness...
Eph 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace (charis) unto the hearers.
Again he nominates direct opposites in behavior. Corrupt communications such as lying directly hurts a victim; but gracious words bless an individual.
All the named practices violate that principle of grace or goodwill, or genuine love for their fellows.
But it grieves an higher power as well – a much more compelling reason for avoiding such conduct, for it separates one from God’s Spirit – a devastatingly fatal result to anyone so conducting his or her life, for such is rejection of the principle that has separated the Believer from sin at the first instance ... and breaks the seal of the covenant that redeems...
Eph 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Paul’s litany of sinful failures concludes with yet other disruptive and alienating qualities that Believers must put away, denying any quarter to their former lives of alienation from the Father and His Son ... and their righteousness.
Eph 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour (tumult, or evil grievances), and evil speaking (i.e., blasphemy), be put away from you, with all malice (malignity):
The broken relationships may be healed by one course of conduct ... kindness and forgiveness, which involves sincere apology – the supreme qualities that are realized in the Almighty’s treatment of His beloved sons and daughters ... admonishing each with tenderness and kindness – the precise benefit that each of them has received from Him in forgiving their sins and bringing them to His sheltering arms.
Eph 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
<HEL> ~2,900 words. Ephesians Four. March 20, 2021.
Paul’s summary of that bad behavior can be turned about and abolished by one pathway alone ... by following the Almighty and His righteous ways – obeying Him as a beloved Father’s children should. Such a course is similar to the love shown by Christ Who offered Himself wholly to His Father.
Eph 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
Eph 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
The apostle’s next sentence lists yet other seriously sinful traits that should never be seen in believers.
Eph 5:3 But fornication (adultery, and incest, and even idolatry), and all uncleanness (either moral or physical uncleanness), or covetousness (avarice, or greediness), let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
Eph 5:4 Neither filthiness (obscenity), nor foolish talking (buffoonery), nor jesting (ribaldry, in a vulgar sense), which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
The next sentence is a reinforcement of the last ones noted, but this reference includes a deadly proposition: none of whom practice these are may inherit the Kingdom of God...
Eph 5:5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Eph 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
Vain words are empty discourses – discussion of things which have no profit. Such activity takes one’s mind away from the important principles of godliness, and usually leads to disobedience ... or some silly crochet or other!
Eph 5:7 Be not ye, therefore, partakers with them.
Paul draws a clear contrast for his readers, reminding them that they are now a different people from their former makeup – no longer ignorant of the way of life but now fully enlightened in the teachings of the Master.
Eph 5:8 For ye were sometimes darkness (shadiness, or obscurity – nothingness!), but now are ye light (a shining, a fire) in the Lord: walk as children of light:
Eph 5:9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
Eph 5:10 Proving (illustrating by one’s life) what is acceptable unto the Lord.
His summary of all these admonitions is that Believers must conduct themselves (walk) as children (having been begotten) of LIGHT, or enlightenment. These blessed ones are now educated in the ways of God and His Son ... and must set themselves on that course.
And that choice involves separation of oneself from those whose lives are marked by those ungodly traits of conduct and character...
Eph 5:11 And have no fellowship (means do not share the company of those) with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
Reproof is rebuttal – to insist that their attitude and conduct needs to be changed, and their behavior altered. Such advice may not take effect – indeed may bring ridicule – but the Believer in such a case has done all that he can do to reform such persons...
Some get pleasure from relating their secret evil deeds as if those confer a special daring or audacity (and it does! – but that is not a commendable quality) and that such activities are to be desired. However, they are only to be desired (even to be discussed) by those whose leanings are toward the flesh.
So his next words draw attention to the indignity that the Believer must exhibit to such persons ... even if it means they have no further communication.
Eph 5:12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
So Paul reasons with his readers that such repudiation of evil ways is fully supported by the light of righteousness. The light shines into those dark corners and is able to enlighten the evildoers if the afflicted one is amenable to such encouragement.
Eph 5:13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
So their spiritual course forward is defined in Paul’s next words, which seem to be a direct reference to Isaiah 60:1, 2 - Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. 2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.
His words will resonate more readily with the Jewish believers who read his parchment for they would be familiar with those words of Isaiah. Paul thus establishes his instruction in the revered words of an ancient prophet even in his time.
In passing, note that Isaiah’s term “LORD” is translated from YHVH; but Paul’s equation of it with Jesus Christ in his day shows that Jesus has now inherited that name of God, and that it is rightly applicable to Him as the Inspirer of righteousness (but not as a third part of the “Holy Trinity!”).
Eph 5:14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
People sleep in the night. Some also sleep in death and shall be among those who shall awaken in the last day to appear before their Judge. His readers will recognize Paul’s inference to either state of slumber, for he references both conditions of sleep. From either (or from both) Christ awakens and gives “light.”
Eph 5:15 See then that ye walk circumspectly (carefully, or diligently), not as fools (the word “fools” here is not as harsh as in our day; this term means unwise, or unwary), but as wise,
Eph 5:16 Redeeming the time (to rescue time from loss; or to ‘buy it up’), because the days are evil (the times are times of mischief!).
Their obligation being to Jesus is to comprehend His spiritual philosophy ... His recommended course of action in every case.
Eph 5:17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
Paul then introduces yet another corrupt practice of their peers: drunkenness.
Intoxication is not the way of Christ by any means. They were to walk soberly as in Titus 2:12, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts ... thus illustrating two facets of intoxication: both by physical imbibition of wine and by a worldly course of conduct.
Both these forms of intoxication result in a staggering gait – imbalance and incoherence, and loss of essential faculties of both reason and balance...
Eph 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit (and therefore WALK in the Spirit);
Eph 5:19 Speaking to yourselves (among your fellows) in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Eph 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Eph 5:21 Submitting yourselves (or subordinating oneself in humility) one to another in the fear of God.
The admonition to “fear God” has wider application as the apostle now illustrates by his next words:
Eph 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves (this is the same Greek word as appears in the previous verse, so its implications are similar: accede to or subordinate yourself) unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
In a family, it is the husband’s duty to lead his household in its general course of life. It is his duty to provide their sustenance and income as well as its increase as to home and children.
Wives are admonished to trust in their husband’s judgment and submit to his decisions, thus maintaining peace and order without rancor. The metaphorical relationship of the husband of the family as related to Christ as leader of the Ecclesia and its Savior should be therefore obvious.
Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Eph 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
That happy arrangement is attainable only by means of an husband’s reciprocal love for his wife; it is a two-way passage of emotional and intellectual enterprise, and is directly relatable to the love that Christ has for his brethren. The husband is a priest to his own household just as Christ is a priest to his brethren, and should be regarded as such by every member of it.
One may readily perceive the role of the husband in the comparisons that Paul now draws, reflecting the loving care and concern of the father of every godly household as compared to the same qualities which are readily seen in Christ.
Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
Eph 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
Eph 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
So the spiritual lesson has practical applications in everyday life as illustrated by Paul’s empathetic reasoning in his next words...
Eph 5:28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
Eph 5:29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
Notice the deeper application of Paul’s reasoning: an husband’s genuine love and care for his wife is parallel to Jesus’ genuine love and care for his brethren. Each entity is a closed community dedicated fully to mutual respect and cooperation in all matters ... and similar in every aspect of being.
Eph 5:30 For we are members (a limb, or an organ, or a portion) of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
As His brethren, each of us is completely integrated with His life and being, and our spiritual well-being is His chief concern just as an husband’s focus must be on his entire family, the closest of which is his relationship with his wife as part of himself.
Eph 5:31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
The concept becomes clear when one comprehends the “mystery” that Paul now reveals – that his entire thesis concerns the relationship of Jesus Christ with his Ecclesia!
Eph 5:32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
So Paul drives the point home in his closing remarks...
Eph 5:33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence (honor him, or hold in awe) her husband.
<HEL> ~1,850 words. Ephesians Five. March 21, 2021.
The apostle continues his detailed family instructions to the Ephesians...
Note particularly that his sentences have become more plainly declarative, offering instruction in simpler, more discreet terms – easy to comprehend – and are substantiated by scriptural reasoning.
Eph 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
This admonition is so important as to be necessary to repeat – so he does so in a parallel way. What is it to “obey” one’s parents? It is essentially to honor their instructions for our lives, for their great experience surpasses ours when we are yet children. He reminds them that this is the first commandment with “promise;” and that promise is long life in the land – a temporal blessing.
Eph 6:2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
Eph 6:3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
The wise apostle also realizes that inter-familial provocation can also come from above – from the parents to the child – and not merely from childish assertions of their own will against that of their fathers.
His advice is enriched with the quality of deep and loving regard for one’s children, and one’s understanding of their challenges in life – the determination to guide them in the conduct that is becoming to those who would be faithful followers of their Master.
Eph 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
It is notable that the apostle, in his next words, like his Teacher and Savior, does not condemn slavery as such, but gently recommends the institution of that time as a more benevolent association than we usually perceive between master and slave. He urges deeply felt consideration by the slave for his master. And we learn in verse nine that the considerations go in both directions – also from master to slave.
The association is similar to that of the brethren of Christ and their Master...
Eph 6:5 Servants (Greek, doulos, either an hired or an indentured servant), be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
Paul’s advice takes into consideration a saying of the Master in which He defines an overriding principle of personal conduct as to deeds that are done to others: that they must be considered deeds done unto Him personally. Matthew 25: 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
That counsel raises the standards of personal conduct greatly above the obligatory principles of mere courtesy to others...
Eph 6:6 Not with eyeservice (remissiveness), as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
Eph 6:7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
Eph 6:8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.
The principle is embodied in the well-known commandment “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The warning is to both parties.
It is the simple principle of fair play among all participants.
And it works in both directions.
Eph 6:9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.
All the above detailed instructions militate toward one goal – that is, the steady progression toward ever greater strength (faith) in the LORD, and confidence in His ability to perform what He has promised. It is the crux of our faith – the main bearing about which it revolves – and that which supports all.
Eph 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Typically, Paul does not leave his admonition in the abstract, but forthwith enters into a discussion in which he explains carefully what he means.
He likens the strength in the LORD that he has advised to be cultivated within the context of a suite of armor – the weapons and garments of members of the army of God – its whole armor, which he now alludes to in spiritual terms.
Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Green, diabolos, slanderer, or false accuser; liar – all elements of human nature).
Much of the prescribed equipment is therefore defensive – but not all of it. The soldier of Christ thus equipped shall be ready for any phase of spiritual combat.
This equipment will afford not only protection against their spiritual enemies, but also provide a means of conquest – or at least, effective resistance against their ideologies.
The recommendations are intended not for mortal, fleshly combat, but for spiritual defense and conquest against ideologies and philosophies – against the evil mindsets – that are contrary to the ways of God ... spiritual wickedness, as he has stated.
There is a parallel to this kind of activity in the “religious” world – “doctors of theology” (so-called) hold credentials that mean little more than that each holder of such a title has served his masters (preceptors) as a student of their (own) philosophies for a given number of academic hours and then passed a rigorous examination on those same principles – with no substantiation of their rightness or wrongness – and having a credential awarded for their work, be it a Master's Degree or a Doctorate.
Such does not speak to the veracity or authenticity of such a process and in the end is worth nothing at all as evaluated against the deep godly mysteries which have not been revealed to those teachers or students.
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood (he speaks not of carnal warfare), but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
“High places” may be either actual or perceived as being “high.”
In academia, the pronouncements of certain men who are named “authorities” (professors) in given disciplines may be considered by some as “an high place” or station against which no resistance is logical or possible. Such an one’s uttering shall, in the estimation of some, be taken as unassailable truth – such as the Darwinian Theory of Organic Evolution as espoused by almost all professors of the biological sciences.
But the wearer of the whole armor of God may easily negate any such repudiation of YHVH as THE Creator and Sustainer of all things (Acts 17: 25).
Eph 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
At the end of such an episode, perhaps the only one who is convinced that the contender is still “standing” on honorable ground – holding up verifiable truth, for example – will be the person who is wearing the whole armor of God; opponents are rarely converted in our experience.
But no matter; private conviction of one’s veracity and recertification of one’s correct understanding will suffice as a building block to faith of standing. We have added our own evaluation of the character of each article of the armor within the text.
Eph 6:14 Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth (defensive equipment), and having on the breastplate of righteousness (defensive);
Eph 6:15 And your feet shod (defensive, but offensively too, as in active teaching of others) with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Eph 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith (defensive, but may be used offensively as in pushing an enemy off balance), wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
Eph 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation (defensive), and the sword of the Spirit (defensive and offensive), which is the word of God:
Eph 6:18 Praying always (defensive) with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto (defensive) with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Eph 6:19 And (praying also) for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
Close consideration of these words reveal two elements that we do not usually realize to constitute part of the whole armor of God: prayer and watchfulness (vs. 18), and teaching (vs. 19).
In today’s parlance we might think of these latter three abilities as “software” – the instructive portion of the soldier of God’s makeup; the remainder is “hardware!”
Eph 6:20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
An ambassador holds one of the highest ranks in government. An ambassador’s presence at any foreign court is an assertion of the representative’s home country and sovereign or president in that foreign court and represents that sovereign’s best interests.
Paul’s position was concisely that.
Although always bound to one or two of Caesar’s soldiers he consistently presented himself with dignity and purpose that symbolized the Government which he represented – the Kingdom of Jesus Christ which was coming!
His next loving concern was consistent with what he knew was their mindset towards him personally ... his temporal welfare including his present state of health.
Eph 6:21 But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do (Paul’s welfare in general), Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things:
Eph 6:22 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.
Tychicus is the courier in both directions for this exchange with Ephesus, and must have been a very special companion to Paul as he is mentioned by name in four of Paul’s epistles as well as in Luke’s account of Paul’s preaching at Troas, notable for the novel circumstances of the death and resuscitation of Eutychus who slumbered during Paul’s dissertation and fell from the third loft of the hall in which the crowd was gathered. Acts 20.
His benediction includes as it always does, his deep desire for mutual peace and tranquility among the recipients of his letter – and their loving each other with the faith that originates only from above.
Eph 6:23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Eph 6:24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen. To the Ephesians written from Rome, by Tychicus.
<HEL> ~1,800 words. Ephesians Six. March 24, 2021. Published here May 14, 2021.
 In our thinking, if a ‘saved’ individual goes on to commit sins as in his former life, that possibility, too, is already included in the principle of ‘predestination,’ and the ‘salvation’ devolves upon itself to the point of cancellation – or more directly to the character of a sham act of repentance and acceptance of the gospel – insincere and meaningless in the entirety of the act – and in the end means no positive result at all. Mortal individuals cannot ‘fool’ their Creator by deception such as that!