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could have no benefit by the gospel, as may be seen all through the Acts, and in almost all St. Paul's epistles. Wherefore, when he heard that the ephesians stood firm in the faith, whereby he means their confidence of their title to the privileges and benefits of the gospel, without submission to the law (for the introducing the legal observances into the kingdom of the Messiah, he declared to be a subversion of the gospel, and contrary to the great and glorious design of that kingdom) he thanks God for them, and, setting forth the gracious and glorious design of God towards them, prays that they may be enlightened, so as to be able to see the mighty things done for them, and the immense advantages they receive by it. In all which he displays the glorious state of that kingdom, not in the ordinary way of argumentation and formal reasoning; which had no place in an epistle, writ as this is, all as it were in a rapture, and in a style far above the plain, didactical way; he pretends not to teach them any thing, but couches all, that he would drop into their minds, in thanksgivings and prayers, which affording a greater liberty and flight to his thoughts, he gives utterance to them, in noble and sublime expressions, suitable to the unsearchable wisdom and goodness of God, shown to the world in the work of redemption. This, though perhaps at first sight, it may render his meaning a little obscure, and his expressions the harder to be understood, yet, by the assistance of the two following epistles, which were both writ, whilst he was in the same circumstances, upon the same occasion, and to the same purpose, the sense and doctrine of the apostle here may be so clearly seen, and so perfectly comprehended, that there can hardly be a doubt left about it, to any one, who will examine them diligently and carefully compare them together. The epistle to the colossians seems to be writ the very same time, in the same run and warmth of thoughts, so that the very same expressions, yet fresh in his mind, are repeated in many places; the form, phrase, matter, and all the parts quite through, of these two epistles do so perfectly correspond, that one cannot be mistaken, in thinking one of them very fit to give light to the other. And that to the philippians, writ also by St. Paul, during his bonds at Rome, when attentively looked into, will be found to have the same aim with the other two; so that, in these three epistles taken together, one may see the great design of the gospel laid down, as far surpassing the law, both in glory, greatness, comprehension, grace, and bounty, and therefore they were opposers, not promoters of the true doctrine of the gospel, and the kingdom of God under the Messiah, who would confine it to the narrow and beggarly elements of this world, as St. Paul calls the positive ordinances of the mosaical institution. To confirm the gentile churches, whom he had converted, in this faith which he had instructed them in, and keep them from submitting to the mosaical rites, in the kingdom of Christ, by giving them a nobler and more glorious view of the gospel, is the design of this and the two following epistles. For the better understanding these epistles, it might be worth while to show their harmony all through, but this synopsis is not a place for it; the following paraphrase and notes wil! give an opportunity to point out several passages wherein their agreement will appear.
The latter end of this epistle, according to St. Paul's usual method, contains practical directions and exhortations.
He that desires to inform himself in what is left upon record, in sacred scripture, concerning the church of the ephesians, which was the metropolis of Asia, strictly so called, may read the 19th and 20th of the Acts.
CHAP. I. 1, 2.
CONTENTS. THESE two verses contain St. Paul's inscription, or introduction of this epistle; what there is in it remarkable for its difference, from what is to be found in his other epistles, we shall take notice of in the notes.
TEXT. 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 : 2 Grace be to you, and peace from God our Father, and from the
Lord Jesus Christ.
PARAPHRASE. 1 PAUL, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the declared
will and special appointment of God, to the professors
of the gospel *, who are in Ephesus ; converts, who 2 stand firm in the faith t of Christ Jesus; Favour and
peace be to you froin God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
NOTES. 1 * Toãs dyíos, though rightly translated « saints,” yet it does not mean any other than a national sanctification, such as the jews had, by being separated from the gentiles, and appropriated to God, as his peculiar people; not that every one, that was of the holy nation of the jews heretofore, or of the holy church of Christ, under the gospel, were saints, in that sense that the word is usually taken now among christians, viz. such persons as were every one of them actually in a state of salvation.
+ Mosoīs, “faithful,” We have observed above, that this epistle, and that to the colossians, have all through a very great resemblance; their lineaments do so correspond, that I think they may be twin-epistles, conceived and brought forth together, so that the very expressions of the one occurred fresh in St. Paul's memory, and were made use of in the other. Their being sent by the same messenger, Tychicus, is a farther probability, that they were writ as the same time. Iligoãs therefore being found in the introduction of both epistles, and no one other of St. Paul's, there is just reason to think, that it was a term suited to the present notion he had of those he was writing to, with reference to the business he was writing about. I take it, therefore, that, by“ faithful in Christ “ Jesus,” he means here such as stood firm to Jesus Christ, which he did not count them to do, who made circumcision necessary to salvation, and an observance of jewish rites a requisite part of the christian religion. This is plain from his express words, Gal. v. 1, 2, “ Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty, where with “ Christ hath made us free, and be not intangled again with the yoke of bondage. “ Behold I Paul say unto you, that, if ye are circumcised, Christ shall profit “ you nothing, &c.” And those, that contended for submission to the law, he calls “ perverters of the gospel of Christ,” Gal. i. 7, and more to the same purpose may be seen in that epistle. We shall have an occasion to confirm this juterpretation of the word tosos, “ faithful,” here, when we come to consider the import of the word wisis, “faith,” ver. 15. They that would have xal, " and,” not exegetical here, but used only to join, under the title of " faithful “ in Christ Jesus," the converts in Asia, I shall desire, besides Col. i. 2, to read also I Cor. i. 2, and thereby judge in what sense they are to understand " and “ to the faithful in Christ Jesus” here.
CHAP. I. 3--14.
In this section St. Paul thanks God for his grace and bounty to the gentiles, wherein he so sets forth both God's gracious purpose of bringing the gentiles into his kingdom under the Messiah, and his actual bestowing on them blessings of all kinds, in Jesus Christ, for a complete re-instating them in that his heavenly kingdom, that there could be nothing stronger suggested to make the ephesians, and other gentile converts, not to think any more of the law, and that much inferiour kingdom of his, established upon the mosaical institution, and adapted to a little canton of the earth, and a small tribe of men; as now necessary to be retained under this more spiritual institution, and celestial kingdom, erected under Jesus Christ, intended to comprehend men of all nations, and extend itself to the utmost bounds of the earth, for the greater honour of God, or, as St. Paul speaks, “ to the praise of the glory of God."
TEXT. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings, in heavenly places, in Christ:
PARAPHRASE. 3 Blessed and magnified be the God and Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ, who has, in and by Jesus Christ *, furnished us † gentiles with all sorts of blessings, that NOTE.
NOTES. 3 * 'Ey Xpusa, “ in Christ," I take to be put here empbatically, and to sig. nify the same with, “ filleth all in all,” v. 23, which is more fully explained, Col.ji, ll," where there is neither greek, nor jew, circumcision por uncir. “ cumcision, barbarian, scythian, bond, nor free, but Christ is all, and in all." .
+ “Us." The right understanding of this section, and indeed of this whole epistle, depends very much on understanding aright, who are more especially comprehended under the terms, “us” and “ we,” from ver. 3 to 12, For
“ us," must signify either, 1. St. Paul himself personally ; but that the visible tenour of the discourse at first sight plainly destroys: besides, it suits not St. Paul's modesty to attribute so much in particular to himself, as is spoke of “us” and “we,” in this section; or if we could think he would give himself that liberty; yet ver. 12, overturns it all; for øvās TOūs a pond TIXOTAS, “ we who “ first trusted in Christ,” can by no means be admitted to be spoken by St. Paul personally of himself. Add to this, that in this very chapter, no farther off than ver. 15, St. Paul, speaking of himself, says, “1,” in the singular number; and so he does, chap. iii. ver. 7,8. Or,
2. It must signify believers in general; but that wpond Teixótas, joined to it, will not admit, for we, the first believers, cannot signify we all that are believers, but restrains the persons to some sort of men, that then began to beJieve, i, e. the gentiles : and then the next words, ver. 13, have an easy and natural connexion : we other gentiles, wbo first believed in Christ, in whom also ye, the gentiles also of Ephesus, after ye heard, believed. Or,
3. It must sigoify the convert jews. But would it not be somewhat preposlerous for St. Paul so much to magnify God's goodness and bounty to the jews in particular, in an epistle writ to a church of converted gentiles: wherein he addresses himself to the gentiles, in contra-distinction to the jews, and tells them they were to be made co-partners with them in the kingdom of the Messiah, which was opened to thein by abolishing of the law of Moses, intimated plainly in this very section, ver. 7.-10. Wherein he magnifies the riches of the favour of God, to the persons he is speaking of, under the denomination “ us,” in gathering again all things, i.e. men of all sorts, under Christ the head, which could not mean the jews alone : but of this he speaks more openly afterwards. Farther, “ we,'' here, and “ we,” chap. ii. 3, must be the same, and denote the same persons; but the “ we,” chap. ii. 3, cau neither be St. Paul alone, nor believers in general, nor jewish converts in particular, as the obvious sense of the place demonstrates : for neither St. Paul can be called, " we all ;” nor is it true that all the convert jews had their conversation among the gentiles, as our bible renders the greek; which, if otherwise to be understood, is more directy against signifying the jews. These, therefore, being excluded from being meant by “we” and “us," bere, who can remain to be signified thereby, but the convert gentiles in general ? That St. Paul, who was the apostle of the gentiles, did often, in an obliging manner, join himself with the gentile converts under the terms us and we, as if he had been one of them, there are so many instances, that it carnot seem strange that he should do so in this section; as Rom. v. 1-11, where it is plain all along, inder the term “ us," he speaks of the gentile converts. And many other passages might be brought out of this epistle to evince it; chap. i. 11, he saith, " we have obtained an inheritance.” 'Those we, it is plain, chap. iii. 6, were gentiles. So chap. ii. 5, " when we,” i. e, converts of the gentiles, “ were “ dead in sins ;” for I do not remember that the jews are any where said, by St. Paul, to be dead in sins: that is one of the distinguishing characters of the gentiles : and there we see, in the same verse, “we” is changed into " ye:” and so ver. 6 and 7, having spoke of the gentiles in the first person, “ us,” in the beginning of the next verse it is changed into “ ye,” i. e. “ ye ephesians," a part of those gentiles. To this I shall add one place inore, out of the parallel epistle to the colossians, chap. i, 12, 13, where he uses juãs, “ us," for the convert gentiles, changing the “ ye,” in the 10th verse, io "us," in the 121h: the matter of giving thanks being the same, all along from ver. 3, where it begins, and is repeated here again, ver. 12, i, e, the removing of the gentiles, out of the kingdom of the devil and darkness, into the kingdom of his beloved son : or, as he expresses it, Eph. i. 6,“ Wherein he hath made us accepted in “ the beloved.” And in the same sense he uses ģucy, “ us,” Col. ii. 14. For those, that the hand-writing of ordinances was against, and contrary to, were the gentiles, as he declares, Eph. ii, 14, 15, wbo were kept off from coming to