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Commentaries on the letter to the Ephesians

Fragments discussed: 1:3-6 | 1:7,8 | 1:9-12 | 1:13,14 | 1:16-18 | 1:19,20

Eph. 1:3-6

"Blessed [is] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who did bless us in every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, (4) according as He did choose us in him before the foundation of the world, for our being holy and unblemished before Him, in love, (5) having foreordained us to the adoption of sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, (6) to the praise of the glory of His grace, in which He did make us accepted in the beloved" (YLT)

Commentary: the apostle Paul presents the addressees of his letter as those who have been chosen by God and are destined to become "holy and unblemished before him". The purpose of the evangelical calling is to develop the characters of the elect in the image of the character of Jesus Christ. The elect who repent before God through faith in Jesus Christ receive the gift of God's love of truth, which is the source of a new birth in them - the beginning of a new mind (and consequently a new character) developed by work with the Word of God. That is why Paul writes about "adoption of sons through Jesus Christ' (verse 5) and about election made "in love" (verse 4). Believers who faithfully perform their sacrifices will become holy and blameless because their characters will be developed in both the avoidance of sin and giving forth of the spiritual fruit. The aspirations of new creatures, thanks to the spirit given to them, are connected with spiritual matters - learning about the Divine order of the world. That is why we read in verse 3 that God 'blessed us in every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.'

God elects individuals who will be given the gift of being born of the spirit. Predestination, of which the Apostle also writes in verse 5, describes the same process, but from a different point of view. The Greek proorizo, which we translate as predestine, refers to prior determination of boundaries (pro - before, horizo ​​- horizon). So if election indicates who will receive the spirit of truth, predestination determines the horizon within which this development can take place. In other words, God sets a goal to be realized by the elect - a goal that at the same time is the limit of their individual possibilities. The ultimate goal of Divine predestination is the glory of the Divine nature as co-rulers with Jesus Christ, and therefore Paul writes about "the praise of the glory of His grace" (verse 6). Information about election made "before the foundation of the world" means that no man has any influence on whether he belongs to the elect. No one can do it with deeds, nor can one deprive himself of the grace of election.

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Eph. 1:7,8

"...in whom we have the redemption through his blood, the remission of the trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, (8) in which He did abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence" (YLT)

Commentary: by saying that the grace of redemption is given to believers in the form of wisdom and prudence, the apostle Paul indirectly shows the meaning of our Lord's sacrifice. According to Rom. 5:18-19, the price for Adam's disobedience was maintaining total obedience by Lord Jesus. Because crucifiction was his last experience, the Bible speaks of redemption through the blood (verse 7). The price of redemption thus seen is absorbed by believers in the form of wisdom because the model of complete obedience in Jesus Christ was also presented to his followers, whose task is to work out the same kind of attitude that the Lord presented during his earthly ministry.

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  3. Related Biblical doctrines:

Eph. 1:9-12

"...having made known to us the secret of His will, according to His good pleasure, that He purposed in Himself, (10) in regard to the dispensation of the fulness of the times, to bring into one the whole in the Christ, both the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth -- in him; (11) in whom also we did obtain an inheritance, being foreordained according to the purpose of Him who the all things is working according to the counsel of His will, (12) for our being to the praise of His glory, [even] those who did first hope in the Christ" (YLT)

Commentary: the apostle declares in verse 10 that God's purpose is to gather everything in Christ, i.e. in the "fulness of the times", when the great divine plan of salvation comes to an end, each creation will be a reflection of the image of perfect obedience to God shown in our Lord Jesus. Already today, in the present Gospel age, the grace of salvation in Christ was presented to those who were elected and predestined for this purpose by God's sovereign decision (verse 9,11). The aim of the elect is the glory of the Divine nature as kings and priests with Jesus Christ with the aim of reforming the resurrected human race with him - that is why in verse 12 Paul writes that we are to exist "to the praise of His glory". The condition, however, is 'hope in Christ', i.e. the elect must first show faith in Christ and confirm it with repentance. After these preliminary conditions are fulfilled, the elect are gifted with the spirit of the new birth so that as God's newborn children they may strive to achieve their glorious reward. Verses 9-12 essentially repeat in a slightly different form the message of verses 3-6.

Eph. 1:13,14

"...in whom ye also, having heard the word of the truth - the good news of your salvation - in whom also having believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of the promise, (14) which is an earnest of our inheritance, to the redemption of the acquired possession, to the praise of His glory" (YLT)

Commentary: the purpose of the Gospel calling is to gather those who will be kings and priests with Jesus Christ in order to reform the resurrected human race in the future kingdom. God accomplishes this gathering by choosing some (individually) and predestinating them for this purpose. The elect who, according to verse 13, hear the word of the Gospel and believe (i.e. show their conviction and repent) receive the measure of God's spirit which is the cause of the new birth in them - the beginning of the mind shaped in the image of Jesus Christ. Only those born of the spirit can hope to receive the reward in glory, which is why Paul says at the end of verse 13 about the 'Spirit of the promise'. The concept of an earnest includes the idea that the love of truth begins the path towards maturity of understanding. The maturity of thought, in turn, is to be a tool of character reform, hence the concept of sealing - the spirit transfers the image of truth to character just like a stamp imprinting its image in art material.

Further words of the apostle point to what the elect develop. In verse 14 Paul writes that the spirit is our earnest literally "to the redemption", so in order to redeem. The sacrifice for Adam's disobedience was Jesus' obedience and the testimony of the truth which he made in this way. The application of this redemption price in accordance with verse 8 takes place through our acquisition of the 'wisdom and prudence' that our Lord has manifested through his ministry. The meaning of redemption is therefore the reform of character to the image of the character of Jesus Christ, through the truth. Here, the spiritual earnest is necessary. It is the spirit of love of truth which arouses in the elect the desire to learn God's teachings and enables them to understand. In other words, the spirit of the love of truth enables those elect to use the truth in order to identify character with the image of Lord's character - therefore the earnest is for redemption. God's property which is to be redeemed are the elect endowed with the spirit of the new birth, just as typically God's special possession was the chosen nation, Israel.

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Eph. 1:16-18

"[I] do not cease giving thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers, (17) that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of the glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the recognition of him, (18) the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, for your knowing what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints" (YLT)

Commentary: in verses 13 and 14 the apostle Paul wrote about the earnest of the spirit to be developed by the called so that the hope of glory that was presented to them would be fulfilled. In verses 16-18 we read how this earnest should be used. If its essence is to give to the elect the spirit of the love of truth, its product should be development in the knowledge of the Word of God and Paul is praying for it (verse 16). It should be emphasized in particular that the spirit in question is not the spirit of the new birth because it works especially in the area of emotions and motivations of the people called to take up the service of the Lord. If the new birth so conceived can be described as a symbolic heart, Paul prays in verse 18 literally for the "the eyes of your understanding being enlightened" - enlightened and thus seeing what the truth is "for your knowing what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints" (verse 18). The concept of the spirit in verses 16-18 is therefore different from the concept of the earnest from verse 14. There it is the spirit of the love of truth that is spoken about; the spirit which is for the elect the source of the new birth. Here, the apostle writes about the effect of the conduct of the called in accordance with the spirit given to them, which should be the maturity of understanding of the Word of God.

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Eph. 1:19,20

"...and what the exceeding greatness of His power to us who are believing, according to the working of the power of His might, (20) which He wrought in the Christ, having raised him out of the dead, and did set [him] at His right hand in the heavenly [places]" (YLT)

Commentary: in previous verses, the apostle Paul wrote about the gift of the spirit for the elect in a dual sense: 1) as an earnest in the form of the divine sacrificial love agape, which leads believers to the new birth (of the character) and 2) as maturity of understanding of the Word of God, the achievement of which is the goal of the spirit-born new creatures. And here comes the surprising statement from verse 20, where we read that with the same power that was just mentioned, God acted also in the case of Jesus Christ when He raised him from the dead and glorified. The event to which the apostle refers was the baptism in the Jordan, when our Lord also received the spirit of the new birth and thus became the spiritual son of God, as also evidenced by the voice from heaven: "my beloved son" (beloved, i.e. endowed with the sacrificial love agape). The difference between him and the elect is, however, that our Lord received the fullness of the spirit. He did not have to develop understanding of the Word of God because he received everything in this single moment: the opening heavens symbolize the full enlightenment he then experienced (Mt. 3:13-17).

The mention of raising from the dead from verse 20 does not apply to the resurrection on the third day after Calvary, but to the same experience of baptism. In the spiritual sense, those who receive the gift of the love of truth experience death of their human will because from now on the will of the Father in heaven is their own. This element of death is also accompanied by the element of resurrection, which is birth of the spirit: through the action of the spirit of truth on the ruins of the old character, a new character is built, which is based on the work with the Holy Bible and the service to which the new creation is called, in the form of evangelization, teaching and prophecy. Since the object of interest for the born of the spirit is metaphysical truth, the Bible speaks of the presence of the new creation in the heavenly heights. This is what verse 20 says of Jesus, but also the same is said of the elect in Eph. 2:6.

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Keywords: Letter to the Ephesians commentary interpretation
 
Bible translations used in the commentary:
YLT - Young's Literal Translation
 
Published:
Last reviewed: 02-08-2019


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