The riches of God's grace towards men, shown from their deplorable state by nature, and the happy change Divine grace makes in them. (1-10) The Ephesians called to reflect on their state of heathenism. (11-13) And the privileges and blessings of the gospel. (14-22)
Verses 1-10 Sin is the death of the soul. A man dead in trespasses and sins has no desire for spiritual pleasures. When we look upon a corpse, it gives an awful feeling. A never-dying spirit is now fled, and has left nothing but the ruins of a man. But if we viewed things aright, we should be far more affected by the thought of a dead soul, a lost, fallen spirit. A state of sin is a state of conformity to this world. Wicked men are slaves to Satan. Satan is the author of that proud, carnal disposition which there is in ungodly men; he rules in the hearts of men. From Scripture it is clear, that whether men have been most prone to sensual or to spiritual wickedness, all men, being naturally children of disobedience, are also by nature children of wrath. What reason have sinners, then, to seek earnestly for that grace which will make them, of children of wrath, children of God and heirs of glory! God's eternal love or good-will toward his creatures, is the fountain whence all his mercies flow to us; and that love of God is great love, and that mercy is rich mercy. And every converted sinner is a saved sinner; delivered from sin and wrath. The grace that saves is the free, undeserved goodness and favour of God; and he saves, not by the works of the law, but through faith in Christ Jesus. Grace in the soul is a new life in the soul. A regenerated sinner becomes a living soul; he lives a life of holiness, being born of God: he lives, being delivered from the guilt of sin, by pardoning and justifying grace. Sinners roll themselves in the dust; sanctified souls sit in heavenly places, are raised above this world, by Christ's grace. The goodness of God in converting and saving sinners heretofore, encourages others in after-time, to hope in his grace and mercy. Our faith, our conversion, and our eternal salvation, are not of works, lest any man should boast. These things are not brought to pass by any thing done by us, therefore all boasting is shut out. All is the free gift of God, and the effect of being quickened by his power. It was his purpose, to which he prepared us, by blessing us with the knowledge of his will, and his Holy Spirit producing such a change in us, that we should glorify God by our good conversation, and perseverance in holiness. None can from Scripture abuse this doctrine, or accuse it of any tendency to evil. All who do so, are without excuse.
Verses 11-13 Christ and his covenant are the foundation of all the Christian's hopes. A sad and terrible description is here; but who is able to remove himself out of it? Would that this were not a true description of many baptized in the name of Christ. Who can, without trembling, reflect upon the misery of a person, separated for ever from the people of God, cut off from the body of Christ, fallen from the covenant of promise, having no hope, no Saviour, and without any God but a God of vengeance, to all eternity? To have no part in Christ! What true Christian can hear this without horror? Salvation is far from the wicked; but God is a help at hand to his people; and this is by the sufferings and death of Christ.
Verses 14-18 Jesus Christ made peace by the sacrifice of himself; in every sense Christ was their Peace, the author, centre, and substance of their being at peace with God, and of their union with the Jewish believers in one church. Through the person, sacrifice, and mediation of Christ, sinners are allowed to draw near to God as a Father, and are brought with acceptance into his presence, with their worship and services, under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, as one with the Father and the Son. Christ purchased leave for us to come to God; and the Spirit gives a heart to come, and strength to come, and then grace to serve God acceptably.
Verses 19-22 The church is compared to a city, and every converted sinner is free of it. It is also compared to a house, and every converted sinner is one of the family; a servant, and a child in God's house. The church is also compared to a building, founded on the doctrine of Christ; delivered by the prophets of the Old Testament, and the apostles of the New. God dwells in all believers now; they become the temple of God through the working of the blessed Spirit. Let us then ask if our hopes are fixed on Christ, according to the doctrine of his word? Have we devoted ourselves as holy temples to God through him? Are we habitations of God by the Spirit, are we spiritually-minded, and do we bring forth the fruits of the Spirit? Let us take heed not to grieve the holy Comforter. Let us desire his gracious presence, and his influences upon our hearts. Let us seek to discharge the duties allotted to us, to the glory of God.
Ephesians 2:1-22 . GOD'S LOVE AND GRACE IN QUICKENING US, ONCE DEAD, THROUGH CHRIST. HIS PURPOSE IN DOING SO: EXHORTATION BASED ON OUR PRIVILEGES AS BUILT TOGETHER, AN HOLY TEMPLE, IN CHRIST, THROUGH THE SPIRIT.
1. And you--"You also," among those who have experienced His mighty power in enabling them to believe ( Ephesians 1:19-23 ).
hath he quickened--supplied from the Greek ( Ephesians 2:5 ).
dead--spiritually. ( Colossians 2:13 ). A living corpse: without the gracious presence of God's Spirit in the soul, and so unable to think, will, or do aught that is holy.
in trespasses . . . sins--in them, as the element in which the unbeliever is, and through which he is dead to the true life. Sin is the death of the soul. Isaiah 9:2 , John 5:25 , "dead" (spiritually), 1 Timothy 5:6 . "Alienated from the life of God" ( Ephesians 4:18 ). Translate, as Greek, "in your trespasses," &c. "Trespass" in Greek, expresses a FALL or LAPSE, such as the transgression of Adam whereby he fell. "Sin." (Greek, "hamartia") implies innate corruption and ALIENATION from God (literally, erring of the mind from the rule of truth), exhibited in acts of sin (Greek, "hamartemata"). BENGEL, refers "trespasses" to the Jews who had the law, and yet revolted from it; "sins," to the Gentiles who know not God.
2. the course of this world--the career (literally, "the age," compare Galatians 1:4 ), or present system of this world ( 1 Corinthians 2:6 1 Corinthians 2:12 , 1 Corinthians 3:18 1 Corinthians 3:19 , as opposed to "the world to come"): alien from God, and lying in the wicked one ( 1 John 5:19 ). "The age" (which is something more external and ethical) regulates "the world" (which is something more external).
the prince of the power of the air--the unseen God who lies underneath guiding "the course of this world" ( 2 Corinthians 4:4 ); ranging through the air around us: compare Mark 4:4 , "fowls of the air" (Greek, "heaven") that is, ( Ephesians 2:15 ), "Satan" and his demons. Compare Ephesians 6:12 , John 12:31 . Christ's ascension seems to have cast Satan out of heaven ( Revelation 12:5 Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:10 Revelation 12:12 Revelation 12:13 ), where he had been heretofore the accuser of the brethren ( Job 1:6-11 ). No longer able to accuse in heaven those justified by Christ, the ascended Saviour ( Romans 8:33 Romans 8:34 ), he assails them on earth with all trials and temptations; and "we live in an atmosphere poisonous and impregnated with deadly elements. But a mighty purification of the air will be effected by Christ's coming" [AUBERLEN], for Satan shall be bound ( Revelation 12:12 Revelation 12:13 Revelation 12:15 Revelation 12:17 , Revelation 20:2 Revelation 20:3 ). "The power" is here used collectively for the "powers of the air"; in apposition with which "powers" stand the "spirits," comprehended in the singular, "the spirit," taken also collectively: the aggregate of the "seducing spirits" ( 1 Timothy 4:1 ) which "work now (still; not merely, as in your case, 'in time past') in the sons of disobedience" (a Hebraism: men who are not merely by accident disobedient, but who are essentially sons of disobedience itself: compare Matthew 3:7 ), and of which Satan is here declared to be "the prince." The Greek does not allow "the spirit" to refer to Satan, "the prince" himself, but to "the powers of the air" of which he is prince. The powers of the air are the embodiment of that evil "spirit" which is the ruling principle of unbelievers, especially the heathen ( Acts 26:18 ), as opposed to the spirit of the children of God ( Luke 4:33 ). The potency of that "spirit" is shown in the "disobedience" of the former. Compare Deuteronomy 32:20 , "children in whom is no faith" ( Isaiah 30:9 , 57:4 ). They disobey the Gospel both in faith and practice ( 2 Thessalonians 1:8 , 2 Corinthians 2:12 ).
3. also we--that is, we also. Paul here joins himself in the same category with them, passing from the second person ( Ephesians 2:1 Ephesians 2:2 ) to the first person here.
all--Jews and Gentiles.
our conversation--"our way of life" ( 2 Corinthians 1:12 , 1 Peter 1:18 ). This expression implies an outwardly more decorous course, than the open "walk" in gross sins on the part of the majority of Ephesians in times past, the Gentile portion of whom may be specially referred to in Ephesians 2:2 . Paul and his Jewish countrymen, though outwardly more seemly than the Gentiles ( Acts 26:4 Acts 26:5 Acts 26:18 ), had been essentially like them in living to the unrenewed flesh, without the Spirit of God.
mind--Greek, "our thoughts." Mental suggestions and purposes (independent of God), as distinguished from the blind impulses of "the flesh."
and were by nature--He intentionally breaks off the construction, substituting "and we were" for "and being," to mark emphatically his and their past state by nature, as contrasted with their present state by grace. Not merely is it, we had our way of life fulfilling our fleshly desires, and so being children of wrath; but we were by nature originally "children of wrath," and so consequently had our way of life fulfilling our fleshly desires. "Nature," in Greek, implies that which has grown in us as the peculiarity of our being, growing with our growth, and strengthening with our strength, as distinguished from that which has been wrought on us by mere external influences: what is inherent, not acquired ( Job 14:4 , Psalms 51:5 ). An incidental proof of the doctrine of original sin.
children of wrath--not merely "sons," as in the Greek, "sons of disobedience" ( Ephesians 2:2 ), but "children" by generation; not merely by adoption, as "sons" might be. The Greek order more emphatically marks this innate corruption: "Those who in their (very) nature are children of wrath"; Ephesians 2:5 , "grace" is opposed to "nature" here; and salvation (implied in Ephesians 2:5 Ephesians 2:8 , "saved") to "wrath." Compare Article IX, Church of England Common Prayer Book. "Original sin (birth-sin), standeth not in the following of Adam, but is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man, naturally engendered of Adam [Christ was supernaturally conceived by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin], whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil; and therefore, in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation." Paul shows that even the Jews, who boasted of their birth from Abraham, were by natural birth equally children of wrath as the Gentiles, whom the Jews despised on account of their birth from idolaters ( Romans 3:9 , 5:12-14 ). "Wrath abideth" on all who disobey the Gospel in faith and practice ( John 3:36 ). The phrase, "children of wrath," is a Hebraism, that is, objects of God's wrath from childhood, in our natural state, as being born in the sin which God hates. So "son of death" ( 2 Samuel 12:5 , Margin); "son of perdition" ( John 17:12 , 2 Thessalonians 2:3 ).
as others--Greek, "as the rest" of mankind are ( 1 Thessalonians 4:13 ).
4. God, who is rich--Greek "(as) being rich in mercy."
for--that is, "because of His great love." This was the special ground of God's saving us; as "rich in mercy" (compare Ephesians 2:7 , 1:7 , Romans 2:4 , 10:12 ) was the general ground. "Mercy takes away misery; love confers salvation" [BENGEL].
5. dead in sins--The best reading is in the Greek, "dead in our (literally, 'the') trespasses."
quickened--"vivified" spiritually, and consequences hereafter, corporally. There must be a spiritual resurrection of the soul before there can be a comfortable resurrection of the body [PEARSON] ( John 11:25 John 11:26 , Romans 8:11 ).
together with Christ--The Head being seated at God's right hand, the body also sits there with Him [CHRYSOSTOM]. We are already seated there IN Him ("in Christ Jesus," Ephesians 2:6 ), and hereafter shall be seated by Him; IN Him already as in our Head, which is the ground of our hope; by Him hereafter, as by the conferring cause, when hope shall be swallowed up in fruition [PEARSON]. What God wrought in Christ, He wrought (by the very fact) in all united to Christ, and one with Him.
by grace ye are saved--Greek, "Ye are in a saved state." Not merely "ye are being saved," but ye "are passed from death unto life" ( John 5:24 ). Salvation is to the Christian not a thing to be waited for hereafter, but already realized ( 1 John 3:14 ). The parenthetic introduction of this clause here (compare Ephesians 2:8 ) is a burst of Paul's feeling, and in order to make the Ephesians feel that grace from first to last is the sole source of salvation; hence, too, he says "ye," not "we."
6. raised us up together--with Christ. The "raising up" presupposes previous quickening of Jesus in the tomb, and of us in the grave of our sins.
made us sit together--with Christ, namely, in His ascension. Believers are bodily in heaven in point of right, and virtually so in spirit, and have each their own place assigned there, which in due time they shall take possession of ( Philippians 3:20 Philippians 3:21 ). He does not say, "on the right hand of God"; a prerogative reserved to Christ peculiarly; though they shall share His throne ( Revelation 3:21 ).
in Christ Jesus--Our union with Him is the ground of our present spiritual, and future bodily, resurrection and ascension. "Christ Jesus" is the phrase mostly used in this Epistle, in which the office of the Christ, the Anointed Prophet, Priest and King, is the prominent thought; when the Person is prominent, "Jesus Christ" is the phrase used.
7. Greek, "That He might show forth (middle reflexive voice; for His own glory, Ephesians 1:6 Ephesians 1:12 Ephesians 1:14 ) in the ages which are coming on," that is, the blessed ages of the Gospel which supersede "the age (Greek, for 'course') of this world" ( Ephesians 2:2 ), and the past "ages" from which the mystery was hidden ( Colossians 1:26 Colossians 1:27 ). These good ages, though beginning with the first preaching of the Gospel, and thenceforth continually succeeding one another, are not consummated till the Lord's coming again (compare Ephesians 1:21 , Hebrews 6:5 ). The words, "coming on," do not exclude the time then present, but imply simply the ages following upon Christ's "raising them up together" spiritually ( Ephesians 2:6 ).
through Christ--rather, as Greek, "in Christ"; the same expression as is so often repeated, to mark that all our blessings center "IN HIM."
8. For--illustrating "the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness." Translate as in Ephesians 2:5 , "Ye are in a saved state."
through faith--the effect of the power of Christ's resurrection ( Ephesians 1:19 Ephesians 1:20 , Philippians 3:10 ) whereby we are "raised together" with Him ( Ephesians 2:6 , Colossians 2:12 ). Some of the oldest manuscripts read, "through your (literally, 'the') faith." The instrument or mean of salvation on the part of the person saved; Christ alone is the meritorious agent.
and that--namely, the act of believing, or "faith." "Of yourselves" stands in opposition to, "it is the gift of God" ( Philippians 1:29 ). "That which I have said, 'through faith,' I do not wish to be understood so as if I excepted faith itself from grace" [ESTIUS]. "God justifies the believing man, not for the worthiness of his belief, but for the worthiness of Him in whom he believes" [HOOKER]. The initiation, as well as the increase, of faith, is from the Spirit of God, not only by an external proposal of the word, but by internal illumination in the soul [PEARSON]. Yet "faith" cometh by the means which man must avail himself of, namely, "hearing the word of God" ( Romans 10:17 ), and prayer ( Luke 11:13 ), though the blessing is wholly of God ( 1 Corinthians 3:6 1 Corinthians 3:7 ).
9. Not of works--This clause stands in contrast to "by grace," as is confirmed by Romans 4:4 Romans 4:5 , 11:6 .
lest--rather, as Greek, "that no man should boast" ( Romans 3:27 , 4:2 ).
10. workmanship--literally, "a thing of His making"; "handiwork." Here the spiritual creation, not the physical, is referred to ( Ephesians 2:8 Ephesians 2:9 ).
created--having been created ( Ephesians 4:24 , Psalms 102:18 , Isaiah 43:21 , 2 Corinthians 5:5 2 Corinthians 5:17 ).
unto good works--"for good works." "Good works" cannot be performed until we are new "created unto" them. Paul never calls the works of the law "good works." We are not saved by, but created unto, good works.
before ordained--Greek, "before made ready" (compare John 5:36 ). God marks out for each in His purposes beforehand, the particular good works, and the time and way which tie sees best. God both makes ready by His providence the opportunities for the works, and makes us ready for their performance ( John 15:16 , 2 Timothy 2:21 ).
that we should walk in them--not "be saved" by them. Works do not justify, but the justified man works ( Galatians 5:22-25 ).
11. The Greek order in the oldest manuscripts is, "That in time past (literally, once) ye," &c. Such remembrance sharpens gratitude and strengthens faith ( Ephesians 2:19 ) [BENGEL].
Gentiles in the flesh--that is, Gentiles in respect to circumcision.
called Uncircumcision--The Gentiles were called (in contempt), and were, the Uncircumcision; the Jews were called, but were not truly, the Circumcision [ELLICOTT].
in the flesh made by hands--as opposed to the true "circumcision of the heart in the Spirit, and not the letter" ( Romans 2:29 ), "made without the hands in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ" ( Colossians 2:11 ).
12. without Christ--Greek, "separate from Christ"; having no part in Him; far from Him. A different Greek word (aneu) would be required to express, "Christ was not present with you" [TITTMANN].
aliens--Greek, "alienated from," not merely "separated from." The Israelites were cut off from the commonwealth of God, but it was as being self-righteous, indolent, and unworthy, not as aliens and strangers [CHRYSOSTOM]. The expression, "alienated from," takes it for granted that the Gentiles, before they had apostatized from the primitive truth, had been sharers in light and life (compare Ephesians 4:18 Ephesians 4:23 ). The hope of redemption through the Messiah, on their subsequent apostasy, was embodied into a definite "commonwealth" or polity, namely, that "of Israel," from which the Gentiles were alienated. Contrast Ephesians 2:13 , Ephesians 3:6 , Ephesians 4:4 Ephesians 4:5 , with Psalms 147:20 .
covenants of promise--rather, ". . . of the promise," namely, "to thee and thy seed will I give this land" ( Romans 9:4 , Galatians 3:16 ). The plural implies the several renewals of the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and with the whole people at Sinai [ALFORD]. "The promise" is singular, to signify that the covenant, in reality, and substantially, is one and the same at all times, but only different in its accidents and external circumstances (compare Hebrews 1:1 , "at sundry times and in divers manners").
having no . . . hope--beyond this life ( 1 Corinthians 15:19 ). The CONJECTURES of heathen philosophers as to a future life were at best vague and utterly unsatisfactory. They had no divine "promise," and therefore no sure ground of "hope." Epicurus and Aristotle did not believe in it at all. The Platonists believed the soul passed through perpetual changes, now happy, and then again miserable; the Stoics, that it existed no longer than till the time of the general burning up of all things.
without God--Greek, "atheists," that is, they had not "God" in the sense we use the word, the Eternal Being who made and governs all things (compare Acts 14:15 , "Turn from these vanities unto the living God who made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things therein"), whereas the Jews had distinct ideas of God and immortality. Compare also Galatians 4:8 , "Ye knew not God . . . ye did service unto them which are no gods" ( 1 Thessalonians 4:5 ). So also pantheists are atheists, for an impersonal God is NO GOD, and an ideal immortality no immortality [THOLUCK].
in the world--in contrast to belonging to "the commonwealth of Israel." Having their portion and their all in this godless vain world ( Psalms 17:14 ), from which Christ delivers His people ( John 15:19 , 17:14 , Galatians 1:4 ).
13. now--in contrast to "at that time" ( Ephesians 2:12 ).
in Christ Jesus--"Jesus" is here added, whereas the expression before ( Ephesians 2:12 ) had been merely "Christ," to mark that they know Christ as the personal Saviour, "Jesus."
far off--the Jewish description of the Gentiles. Far off from God and from the people of God ( Ephesians 2:17 , Isaiah 57:19 , Acts 2:39 ).
are--Greek, "have been."
by--Greek, "in." Thus "the blood of Christ" is made the seal of a covenant IN which their nearness to God consists. In Ephesians 1:7 , where the blood is more directly spoken of as the instrument, it is "through His blood" [ALFORD].
14. he--Greek, "Himself" alone, pre-eminently, and none else. Emphatical.
our peace--not merely "Peacemaker," but "Himself" the price of our (Jews' and Gentiles' alike) peace with God, and so the bond of union between "both" in God. He took both into Himself, and reconciled them, united, to God, by His assuming our nature and our penal and legal liabilities ( Ephesians 2:15 , Isaiah 9:5 Isaiah 9:6 , 53:5 , Micah 5:5 , Colossians 1:20 ). His title, "Shiloh," means the same ( Genesis 49:10 ).
the middle wall of partition--Greek, ". . . of the partition" or "fence"; the middle wall which parted Jew and Gentile. There was a balustrade of stone which separated the court of the Gentiles from the holy place, which it was death for a Gentile to pass. But this, though incidentally alluded to, was but a symbol of the partition itself, namely, "the enmity" between "both" and God ( Ephesians 2:15 ), the real cause of separation from God, and so the mediate cause of their separation from one another. Hence there was a twofold wall of partition, one the inner wall, severing the Jewish people from entrance to the holy part of the temple where the priests officiated, the other the outer wall, separating the Gentile proselytes from access to the court of the Jews (compare Ezekiel 44:7 , Acts 21:28 ). Thus this twofold wall represented the Sinaitic law, which both severed all men, even the Jews, from access to God (through sin, which is the violation of the law), and also separated the Gentiles from the Jews. As the term "wall" implies the strength of the partition, so "fence" implies that it was easily removed by God when the due time came.
15. Rather, make "enmity" an apposition to "the middle wall of partition"; "Hath broken down the middle wall of partition (not merely as English Version, 'between us,' but also between all men and God), to wit, the enmity ( Romans 8:7 ) by His flesh" (compare Ephesians 2:16 , Romans 8:3 ).
the law of commandments contained in--Greek, "the law of the commandments (consisting) in ordinances." This law was "the partition" or "fence," which embodied the expression of the "enmity" (the "wrath" of God against our sin, and our enmity to Him, Ephesians 2:3 ) ( Romans 4:15 , 5:20 , Romans 7:10 Romans 7:11 , 8:7 ). Christ has in, or by, His crucified flesh, abolished it, so far as its condemning and enmity-creating power is concerned ( Colossians 2:14 ), substituting for it the law of love, which is the everlasting spirit of the law, and which flows from the realization in the soul of His love in His death for us. Translate what follows, "that He might make the two (Jews and Gentiles) into one new man." Not that He might merely reconcile the two to each other, but incorporate the two, reconciled in Him to God, into one new man; the old man to which both belonged, the enemy of God, having been slain in His flesh on the cross. Observe, too, ONE new man; we are all in God's sight but one in Christ, as we are but one in Adam [ALFORD].
making peace--primarily between all and God, secondarily between Jews and Gentiles; He being "our peace." This "peace-making" precedes its publication ( Ephesians 2:17 ).
16. Translate, "might altogether reconcile them both in one body (the Church, Colossians 3:15 ) unto God through His cross." The Greek for "reconcile" (apocatalaxe), found only here and in Colossians 1:20 , expresses not only a return to favor with one (catallage), but so to lay aside enmity that complete amity follows; to pass from enmity to complete reconciliation [TITTMANN].
slain the enmity--namely, that had been between man and God; and so that between Jew and Gentile which had resulted from it. By His being slain, He slew it (compare Hebrews 2:14 ).
thereby--Greek, "therein"; "in" or "by the cross," that is, His crucifixion ( Colossians 2:15 ).
17. Translate, "He came and announced glad tidings of peace." "He came" of His own free love, and "announced peace" with His own mouth to the apostles ( Luke 24:36 , John 20:19 John 20:21 John 20:26 ); and by them to others, through His Spirit present in His Church ( John 14:18 ). Acts 26:23 is strictly parallel; after His resurrection "He showed light to the people ('them that were nigh') and to the Gentiles ('you that were afar off')," by His Spirit in His ministers (compare 1 Peter 3:19 ).
and to them--The oldest manuscripts insert "peace" again: "And peace to them." The repetition implies the joy with which both alike would dwell again and again upon the welcome word "peace." So Isaiah 57:19 .
18. Translate, "For it is through Him ( John 14:6 ; Hebrews 10:19 ) that we have our access ( Ephesians 3:12 , Romans 5:2 ), both of us, in (that is, united in, that is, "by," 1 Corinthians 12:13 , Greek) one Spirit to the Father," namely, as our common Father, reconciled to both alike; whence flows the removal of all separation between Jew and Gentile. The oneness of "the Spirit," through which we both have our access, is necessarily followed by oneness of the body, the Church ( Ephesians 2:16 ). The distinctness of persons in the Divine Trinity appears in this verse. It is also fatal to the theory of sacerdotal priests in the Gospel through whom alone the people can approach God. All alike, people and ministers, can draw nigh to God through Christ, their ever living Priest.
19. Now, therefore--rather, "So then" [ALFORD].
foreigners--rather, "sojourners"; opposed to "members of the household," as "strangers" is to "fellow citizens." Philippians 3:19 Philippians 3:20 , "conversation," Greek, "citizenship."
but--The oldest manuscripts add, "are."
with the saints--"the commonwealth of (spiritual) Israel" ( Ephesians 2:12 ).
of God--THE FATHER; as JESUS CHRIST appears in Ephesians 2:20 , and THE SPIRIT in Ephesians 2:22 .
20. Translate as Greek, "Built up upon," &c. (participle; having been built up upon; omit, therefore, "and are"). Compare 1 Corinthians 3:11 1 Corinthians 3:12 . The same image in Ephesians 3:18 , recurs in his address to the Ephesian elders ( Acts 20:32 ), and in his Epistle to Timothy at Ephesus ( 1 Timothy 3:15 , 2 Timothy 2:19 ), naturally suggested by the splendid architecture of Diana's temple; the glory of the Christian temple is eternal and real, not mere idolatrous gaud. The image of a building is appropriate also to the Jew-Christians; as the temple at Jerusalem was the stronghold of Judaism; as Diana's temple, of paganism.
foundation of the apostles, &c.--that is, upon their ministry and living example (compare Matthew 16:18 ). Christ Himself, the only true Foundation, was the grand subject of their ministry, and spring of their life. As one with Him and His fellow workers, they, too, in a secondary sense, are called "foundations" ( Revelation 21:14 ). The "prophets" are joined with them closely; for the expression is here not "foundations of the apostles and the prophets," but "foundations of the apostles and prophets." For the doctrine of both was essentially one ( 1 Peter 1:10 1 Peter 1:11 , Revelation 19:10 ). The apostles take the precedency ( Luke 10:24 ). Thus he appropriately shows regard to the claims of the Jews and Gentiles: "the prophets" representing the old Jewish dispensation, "the apostles" the new. The "prophets" of the new also are included. BENGEL and ALFORD refer the meaning solely to these ( Ephesians 3:5 , 4:11 ). These passages imply, I think, that the New Testament prophets are not excluded; but the apostle's plain reference to Psalms 118:22 , "the head stone of the corner," proves that the Old Testament prophets are a prominent thought. David is called a "prophet" in Acts 2:30 . Compare also Isaiah 28:16 ; another prophet present to the mind of Paul, which prophecy leans on the earlier one of Jacob ( Genesis 49:24 ). The sense of the context, too, suits this: Ye were once aliens from the commonwealth of Israel (in the time of her Old Testament prophets), but now ye are members of the true Israel, built upon the foundation of her New Testament apostles and Old Testament prophets. Paul continually identifies his teaching with that of Israel's old prophets ( Acts 26:22 , 28:23 ). The costly foundation-stones of the temple ( 1 Kings 5:17 ) typified the same truth (compare Jeremiah 51:26 ). The same stone is at once the corner-stone and the foundation-stone on which the whole building rests. Paul supposes a stone or rock so large and so fashioned as to be both at once; supporting the whole as the foundation, and in part rising up at the extremities, so as to admit of the side walls meeting in it, and being united in it as the corner-stone [ZANCHIUS]. As the corner-stone, it is conspicuous, as was Christ ( 1 Peter 2:6 ), and coming in men's way may be stumbled over, as the Jews did at Christ ( Matthew 21:42 , 1 Peter 2:7 ).
21. In whom--as holding together the whole.
fitly framed--so as exactly to fit together.
groweth--"is growing" continually. Here an additional thought is added to the image; the Church has the growth of a living organism, not the mere increase of a building. Compare 1 Peter 2:5 ; "lively stones . . . built up a spiritual house." Compare Ephesians 4:16 , Zechariah 6:12 , "The Branch shall build the temple of the Lord," where similarly the growth of a branch, and the building of a temple, are joined.
holy--as being the "habitation of God" ( Ephesians 2:22 ). So "in the Lord" (Christ) answers to "through the Spirit" ( Ephesians 2:22 ; compare Ephesians 3:16 Ephesians 3:17 ). "Christ is the inclusive Head of all the building, the element in which it has its being and now its growth" [ALFORD].
22. are builded together--Translate, "are being builded together."
through--Greek, "in the Spirit." God, by His Spirit in believers, has them for His habitation ( 1 Corinthians 3:16 1 Corinthians 3:17 , 6:19 , 2 Corinthians 6:16 ).