The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Ephesians 2:19-22

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 29, 2013

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief analysis of Epehsians 2, followed by his notes on verses 19-22. Text in purple represents his paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on.


In this chapter, the Apostle applies to the Ephesians in particular, what he had said in general regarding the power of God exerted in the spiritual resuscitation of sinners (chap. 1 verse 19). He depicts the wretched condition of the Ephesians when dead in sin; and he shows, that the same description applied to the Jews as well as to the Gentiles (1–3). He also shows how, through the infinite mercy of God, they were resuscitated unto a spiritual resurrection—of which the resurrection of Christ was the model—and made sharers in his heavenly kingdom (4–7). He reminds them, that those favours were purely the result of God’s gratuitous goodness, without any merits of theirs; for, their justification was a kind of new creation, and as well might the world glory in its production out of nothing, as they, in their new spiritual existence (8–12). In order to inspire them with due feelings of gratitude, and to stimulate them to serve God with greater fervour, he tells them, in the next place, to keep always in mind, their former spiritual destitution, and wretched state, and their present blessedness secured for them through the merits of Christ; and he explains how Christ brought about such exalted ends (11–19). From all this he concludes, that they are no longer strangers, but domestics of God; and he illustrates the union that subsisted between the Ephesians and the rest of the faithful by the metaphor of a spiritual edifice of which they form a part, having been built on Christ and his Apostles.

Eph 2:19  Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners: but you are fellow citizens with the saints and the domestics of God,

19. Now, therefore, you are no longer, as you were in your Gentile, unconverted state, strange citizens and mere guests in the family; but you are fellow-citizens of the saints, and inmates of God’s own house.

Among the benefits resulting from their justification is this, viz., that they are no longer “strangers,” deprived of the rights of citizens, as they were before, when “strangers to the testament” (verse 12), and “foreigners,” not belonging to the household of God, for they were “afar off” (verse 13), nay, “without God.” But they now are “fellow-citizens with the saints,” which may refer to the Patriarchs and saints of old with whom they were connected, as being the spiritual Israel—or, it may refer to the faithful members of the Church of Christ, who are frequently called “saints,” by the Apostle; and they are inmates of God’s own family.

Eph 2:20  Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone:

20. You are built upon the Apostles and Prophets, who hold the place of secondary foundations in the spiritual edifice of the Church, Jesus Christ himself being its primary foundation, as chief corner-stone laid at the bottom of the building, supporting in one, both Jew and Gentile.

The Apostle introduces the metaphor of the house to which he already had compared the Church of Christ (verse 14). He shows the union that had subsisted between the Ephesians and the rest of the faithful, as they form a part of the spiritual edifice built upon Christ and the Apostles, &c. Christ is the primary foundation in this edifice; it is by his faith and grace it is sustained. “The Prophets,” who ushered in the Gospel, and “the Apostles,” who were the first to announce it, are called a “foundation,” but only secondary foundations, since Christ is the corner-stone, on which both the walls, that is to say, Jews and Gentiles, were united, on which both rested; and by which, both were supported, forming only one edifice. This furnishes no objection against the Primacy of St. Peter; for, there is an order of priority and preference between the secondary foundations, as is shown in the proofs of the Primacy. The Apostles were foundations; but, still, subordinate to St. Peter, the “rock on which Christ built his Church,” the chief shepherd to whom the entire flock was given in charge, “lambs and sheep,” pastors and people.

Eph 2:21  In whom all the building, being framed together, groweth up into an holy temple in the Lord.

21. Upon whom, as chief corner-stone, the entire edifice of the Church, compactly joined and cemented together, is reared up unto a holy temple consecrated to the Lord.

“A holy temple in the Lord,” i.e., of the Lord; or, “holy,” through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Eph 2:22  In whom you also are built together into an habitation of God in the Spirit.

22. Upon whom as chief corner-stone, you Ephesians also are built together with the rest of Christians, constituting parts of this temple, so as to become the habitation of God; this is effected by the Spirit of God, who by his holy grace cements you together and prepares you to be his holy habitation.

The Ephesians form a part of this holy temple; hence, the close union they have contracted with the friends of God, forming a part of the same spiritual edifice with them.

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