Page images


10 That, in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might ga ther together in one all things, in Christ, both which are in hea ven, and which are on earth, even in him:

il In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predesti


10 tery, that he hath purposed in himself, Until the coming of the due time of that dispensation, wherein he hath predetermined to reduce all things again, both in heaven 11 and earth, under one head' in Christ; In whom we be


stick firm to this great truth, and not to be led away from the gospel, which he had taught them.

See chap. iii. 9.

10+ Avaxı Qaλaιwoaolas, properly signifies to recapitulate, or recollect, and put together the heads of a discourse. But, since this cannot possibly be the meaning of this word here, we must search for the meaning, which St. Paul gives it here, in the doctrine of the gospel, and not in the propriety of the greek.

1. It is plain in sacred scripture, that Christ had first the rule and supremacy over all, and was head over all. See Col. i. 15-17, Heb. i. 8.

2. There are also manifest indications in scripture, that a principal angel, with great numbers of angels, his followers, joining with him, revolted from this kingdom of God, and, standing out in rebellion, erected to themselves a kingdom of their own in opposition to the kingdom of God, Luke x. 17-20, and had all the heathen world vassals and subjects of that their kingdom, Luke iv. 5–8, Matt, xii. 26-30, John xii. 31, and xiv. 30, and xvi. 11," Eph. vi. 12, Col. i. 13, Rom. i. 18, &c. Acts xxvi. 18, &c.

3. That Christ recovered this kingdom, and was re-instated in the supremacy and headship, in the fulness of time (when he came to destroy the kingdom of darkness, as St. Paul calls it here) at his death and resurrection. Hence, just before his suffering, he says, John xii. 31, "Now is the judgment of this world: "now shall the prince of this world be cast out." From whence may be seen the force of Christ's argument, Matt. xii. 28, “If I cast out devils by the Spirit "of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you:" for the jews acknowledge that the Spirit of God, which had been withdrawn from them, was not to be given out again, until the coming of the Messiah, under whom the kingdom of God was to be erected. See also Luke x. 18, 19,

4. What was the state of his power and dominion, from the defection of the angels, and setting up the kingdom of darkness, until his being re-instated in the fulness of time, there is little revealed in sacred scripture, as not so much pertaining to the recovery of men from their apostacy, and re-instating them in the kingdom of God. It is true, God gathered to himself a people, and set up a kingdom here on earth, which he maintained in the little nation of the jews till the setting up the kingdom of his Son, Acts i. 3, and ii. 36, which was to take place, as God's only kingdom here on earth, for the future. At the head of this, which is called the church, he sets Jesus Christ his Son: but that is not all, for he, having by his death and resurrection conquered Satan, John xii. S1, and xvi. 11, Col. ii. 15, Heb. ii. 14, Eph. iv. &, has all power given him in heaven and earth, and is made the head over all things for the church, [Matt, xxviii. 38, and xi. 27, John iii. $5, and xiii. 3, Eph. i. 20-22, Heb, i. 2—h


nated according to the purpose of him, who worketh all things, after the counsel of his own will:


came his possession' and the lot of his inheritance, be


and ii. 9, 1 Cor. xv. 25, 27, Phil. ii. 8-11, Col. ii. 10, Heb. x. 12, 13, Acts ii. 33, and v. 31. In both which places it should be translated "to the right "hand of God."] Which re-instating him again, in the supreme power, and restoring him, after the conquest of the devil, to that complete headship, which he had over all things, being now revealed under the gospel, as may be seen, in the text here quoted, and in other places; I leave to the reader to judge, whether St. Paul might not, probably, have an eye to that, in this verse, and in his use of the word ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι. But to search thoroughly into this matter (which I have not in my small reading, found any where sufficiently taken notice of) would require a treatise.

It may suffice at present to take notice that this exaltation of his is expressed, Phil. ii. 9, 10, by all things in heaven and earth bowing the knee, at his name; which we may see farther explained, Rev. v. 13. Which acknowledgment of his honour and power was that, perhaps, which the proud angel that fell, refusing, thereupon rebelled.

If our translators have rendered the sense of avansaḥawoaola, right, by "gather together into one," it will give countenance to those, who are inclined to understand, by "things in heaven and things on earth," the jewish and gentile world: for of them St. John plainly says, John xi. 52, "That Jesus should "die, not for the nation of the jews only, but that also ovaydyn siç ë, he "should gather together in one, the children of God that were scattered abroad," i.e. the gentiles, that were to believe, and were, by faith, to become the children of God; whereof Christ himself speaks thus, John x. 16, "Other sheep "I have which are not of this fold, them also I must bring, and they shall hear "my voice, and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." This is the gathering together into one that our Saviour speaks of, and is that which very well suits with the apostle's design here, where he says in express words, that Christ makes rà άuorspar, makes both jews and gentiles one, Eph. ii. 14. Now, that St. Paul should use heaven and earth, for jews and gentiles, will not be thought so very strange, if we consider that Daniel himself expresses the nation of the jews by the name of heaven, Dan. viii. 10. Nor does he want an example of it, in our Saviour himself, who, Luke xxi. 26, by "powers of hea"ven," plainly signifies the great men of the jewish nation; nor is this the only place, in this epistle of St. Paul to the ephesians, which will bear this interpretation of heaven and earth: he who shall read the fifteen first verses of chap. iii. and carefully weigh the expressions, and observe the drift of the apostle in them, will not find that he does manifest violence to St. Paul's sense, if he understands by "the family in heaven and earth," ver. 15, the united body of christians, made up of jews and gentiles, living still promiscuously among those two sorts of people, who continued in their unbelief. However, this interpretation I am not positive in; but offer it as a matter of inquiry, to such who think an impartial search into the true meaning of the sacred scripture the best employment of all the time they have.

11 So the greek word izλnpwonuer will signify, if taken, as I think it may, in the passive voice, i. e. we gentiles, who were formerly in the possession of the devil, are now, by Christ, brought into the kingdom, dominion, and possession


12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.


ing predetermined thereunto, according to the purpose of him, who never fails to bring to pass what he hath 12 purposed within himself: That we of the gentiles, who first through Christ entertained hope", might bring praise


of God again. This sense seems very well to agree with the design of the place, viz. that the gentile world had now, in Christ, a way opened for their returning into the possession of God, under their proper head, Jesus Christ. To which suit the words that follow, "that we, who first among the gentiles," entertained terms of reconciliation by Christ, "might be to the praise of his glory," i. e. so that we of the gentiles who first believed, did, as it were, open a new scene of praise and glory to God, by being restored to be his people, and become again a part of his possession; a thing not before understood, nor looked for. See Acts xi. 18, and xv. 3, 14-19. The apostle's design here being to satisfy the ephesians, that the gentiles were, by faith in Christ, restored to all the pri vileges of the people of God, as far forth as the jews themselves. See chap. ii. 11-22, particularly ver. 19, as to ixarpunuer, it may, I humbly conceive, do no violence to the place to suggest this sense, "we became the inheritance," instead of "we have obtained an inheritance;" that being the way, wherein God speaks of his people, the israelites, of whom he says, Deut. xxxii. 9, "The Lord's portion is his people, Jacob is the lot of his inheritance." See also Deut. iv. 20, 1 Kings viii. 51, and other places. And the inheritance, which the gentiles were to obtain, was to be obtained, we see Col. i. 12, 13, by their being translated out of the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of Christ. So that take it either way, that we have obtained an inheritance," or "we "are become his people and inheritance;" it in effect amounts to the same thing, and so I leave it to the reader.

ti. e. God had purposed, even before the taking of the israelites to be his people, to take in the gentiles, by faith in Christ, to be his people again: and what he purposes he will do, without asking the counsel, or consent of any one; and therefore you may be sure of this your inheritance, whether the jews consent

to it or no.

12 It was a part of the character of the gentiles to be without hope; see chap. ii. 12. But, when they received the gospel of Jesus Christ, they then ceased to be aliens from the common-wealth of Israel, and became the people of God, and had hope, as well as the jews; or as St. Paul expresses it, in the name of the converted romans, Rom. v. 2, “We rejoice in hope of the glory "of God." This is another evidence that pas, "we," here, stands for the gentile converts. That the jews were not without hope, or without God in the world, appears from that very text, Eph. ii. 12, where the gentiles are set apart under a discriminating description, properly belonging to them: the sacred scripture no where speaks of the hebrew nation, that people of God, as without God, or without hope; the contrary appears every-where. See Rom. ii. 17, and xi. 1, 2, Acts xxiv. 15, and xxvi. 6, 7, and xxviii. 20. And therefore the apostle might well say, that those of the gentiles, who first entertained hopes in Christ, were "to the praise of the glory of God." All mankind having thereby, now, a new and greater subject of praising and glorifying God, for this great and un


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,"

14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.


13 and glory to God. And ye, ephesians, are also, in Jesus Christ, become God's people and inheritance", having heard the word of truth, the good tidings of your salvation, and, having believed in him, have been scaled by 14 the Holy Ghost; Which was promised, and is the pledge and evidence of being the people of God, his inheri tance given out' for the redemption of the purchased


[ocr errors]

speakable grace and goodness to them, of which before they had no knowledge, no thought, no expectation.

13 Evμai, seems in the tenour and scheme of the words, to refer to 4 x ixanpwonμer, ver. 11. St. Paul making a parallel here, between those of the gentiles that first believed, and the ephesians, tells them, that as those, who heard and received the gospel before them, became the people of God, &c. to the praise and glory of his name; so they, the ephesians, by believing, became the people of God, &c. to the praise and glory of his name, only in this verse there is an ellipsis of ἐκληρώθηκε.

14 The Holy Ghost was neither promised, nor given to the heathen, who were apostates from God, and enemies; but only to the people of God; and therefore the convert ephesians, having received it, might be assured thereby, that they were now the people of God, and rest satisfied in this pledge of it.

y The giving out of the Holy Ghost, and the gift of miracles, was the great means, whereby the gentiles were brought to receive the gospel, and become the people of God.

"Redemption," in sacred scripture, signifies not always strictly paying a ransom for a slave delivered from bondage, but deliverance from a slavish estate into liberty: so God declares to the children of Israel in Egypt, Exod. vi. 6, "I will redeem you with a stretched-out arm." What is meant by it, is clear from the former part of the verse, in these words, "I will bring you out, "from under the burthen of the egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage." And, in the next verse, he adds, " and I will take you to me for my "people, and I will be to you a God:" the very case here. As God, in the place cited, promised to deliver his people out of bondage, under the word redeem;" so Deut. vii. 8, he telleth them, that he had brought them out "with a mighty hand, and redeemed them out of the house of bondage, from "the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt:" which redemption was performed by God, who is called the Lord of hosts their Redeemer, without the payment of any ransom. But here there was poinose, a purchase, and what the thing purchased was we may see, Acts xx. 28, viz. " the church of God," wepsenoscals, which " he purchased with his own blood," to be a people, that should be the Lord's portion, and the lot of his inheritance, as Moses speaks of the



possession, that ye might also bring praise and glory to God".

[ocr errors]


children of Israel, Deut. xxxii. 9. And hence St. Peter calls the christians, 1 Pet. ii. 9, λa sis proine, which in the margin of our bible, is rightly translated "a purchased people:" but if any one takes ixλnpwonμer, ver. 11, to signify we have obtained an inheritance," then xλnpovouía, in this verse, will signify "that inheritance," and is aroλúTPWOID TYS WEPITOINTEws,“ until the "redemption of that purchased inheritance," i. e. until the redemption of our bodies, viz. resurrection unto eternal life. But, besides that this seems to have a more harsh and forced sense, the other interpretation is more consonant to the style and current of the sacred scripture, and (which weighs more with me) answers St. Paul's design here, which is to establish the ephesians, in a settled persuasion, that they, and all the other gentiles that believed in Christ, were as much the people of God, his lot, and his inheritance, as the jews themselves, and equally partakers with them of all the privileges and advantages belonging thereunto, as is visible by the tenour of the second chapter. And this is the use St. Paul mentions of God's setting his seal, 2 Tim. ii. 19, that it might mark who are his and accordingly we find it applied, Rev. vii. 3, to the foreheads of his servants, that they might be known to be his, chap. iv. 1. For so did those who purchased servants, as it were, take possession of them, by setting their marks on their foreheads.

As he had declared, ver. 6 and 12, that the other gentiles, by believing and becoming the people of God, enhanced thereby the praise and glory of his grace and goodness; so here, ver. 14, he pronounces the same thing of the ephesians, in particular, to whom he is writing, to possess their minds with the sense of the happy estate they were now in, by being christians; for which he thanks God, ver. 3, and here again in the next words.


CHAP. I. 15.-II. 10.


HAVING in the foregoing section thanked God for the great favours and mercies which, from the beginning, he had purposed for the gentiles, under the Messiah, in such a description of that design of the Almighty, as was fit to raise their thoughts above the law, and, as St. Paul calls them, beggarly elements of the jewish constitution, which was nothing in comparison of the great and glorious design of the gospel, taking notice of their standing firm in the faith he had

« PreviousContinue »