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Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Ephesians 6:10-20

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 22, 2016

Eph 6:10. For the rest, brethren, be strengthened in the Lord, and in the power of his virtue.
Eph 6:11. Put on you the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Eph 6:12. For not to us is the wrestling against flesh and blood; but against princes and powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual things of wickedness, in the heavenly places.
Eph 6:13. On this account take the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and stand in all things perfect.

For the rest. The Apostle has laid the foundation of Christian morality on a sound basis, in accordance with the commands and appointments of the Creator of the world, in the injunctions given from the beginning of Chapter 4 to this point, in opposition to the false doctrine of the heretics. In conclusion, he now sets before his readers, with extraordinary energy of language, the critical nature of the warfare
they had to maintain against these pestilent errors, which he traces to their true origin, the machinations of the devil, who was endeavouring to overthrow the Christian religion in its infancy. So insidious was the danger they had to combat, that it would require all their resolution and all their watch fulness to preserve their faith. Be strengthened in the might of the power of the Lord. Not the strength only, but the consciousness of strength, and the courage and determination arising from that consciousness. Put on the armour of God, in the Greek the panoply, or complete armour. As if he said, we have a crafty foe to contend with, and no part must be left unguarded, lest you be wounded there, as Achilles received his death-wound in his heel, though the rest of his body was protected. Our struggle is not against flesh and
blood. Our foes are not men, who are flesh and blood, but evil spirits who cannot be killed, subtle, strong, malicious; though they may make use of evil men as their instruments. They are princes and powers, once of heaven, since of all the heavenly orders some angels accompanied Lucifer in his fall.
The world-rulers of this darkness. The Greek word κοσμοκρατορας, Saint Jerome thinks, was coined by Saint Paul, being used no where else than in this passage. Tertullian, on Marc v. has mundi tenentes. The term used in the Vulgate, mundi retores, should be construed as one word, as in the Greek, and this will account grammatically for the genitive which follows, tenebrarum harum. The Syriac has, the possessors of this dark world. Not that evil spirits are the possessors or rulers of the world by God s appointment, but only by usurpation and conquest, and that only over the souls of men who willingly submit to their power. Probably, therefore, by the this dark world, we are to understand the infidels, heretics, and idolaters, of whom the world was then full, in opposition to whom the faithful are called sons of light, sup. v. 8. Christ speaks of the devil as the prince of this world, Joh. 14:30. Spiritualia nequitia is a literal translation of the Greek; it is a Hebraism for spiritual wickedness, or wicked spirits. And they dwell in the heavenly places. The whole of this passage is almost an exact description of the powers or intelligences, whom the followers of Simon supposed to dwell in the planets, and determine the fate of mankind, and who were therefore the objects of their devotion, and the language of the Apostle implies that the confidence of the heretics was really reposed in evil spirits. Our foes are invisible, in the air around us, innumerable, my name is legion, completely depraved and wicked, invincibly crafty and cunning, so powerful that they rule the world, hate us irreconcilably, are resolutely bent on our destruction. How, then, Saint Chrysostom asks, can we hope to overcome them, if we live in pleasure, and unarmed? On this account take the armour of God, the description of which is given in the following verses, that you may be able to resist in the evil day. The evil day is either the day of temptation, or the day of persecution, which the Apostle foresaw; or possibly the day of death, when the spirits of darkness will assemble their forces for a final assault. And stand in all things perfect, that is perfectly and completely armed for the conflict. Or else, as the Greek has, having completed all, and fought your fight, you will stand in the judgment of the last day. The Syriac has: that when in all things you are fully prepared, you may be able to stand firm in the profession of the true faith.

Eph 6:14. Stand therefore with your loins girded in truth, and clothed in the cuirass of justice.
Eph 6:15. And your feet shod in the preparation of the gospel of peace.
Eph 6:16. In all taking the shield of faith, in which you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one.
Eph 6:17. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Stand, in order of battle, your loins girded in truth, a firm and resolute adherence to the one true Catholic and Apostolic faith, which you have received as God’s truth. Clothed in the cuirass, or coat of mail of justice, an habitual practice of the commands of God in all the relations of life, as set forth in the preceding chapters. Your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace, continually ready to maintain the Gospel of Christ in opposition to heretics and pagans. This is doubtless said with especial reference to those of the Ephesian Christians who were most thoroughly acquainted with the evangelical doctrine, and able to instruct and convince their neighbours, but all could illustrate its teaching by a Christian life. It is called the Gospel of peace because it proclaimed God s peace to man, reconciliation in
Christ, and remission of sins. Boldness, confidence, and alacrity are required for such a task, but also the nature of the promises they proclaimed was calculated to supply these. One who walks barefoot over rough places must proceed with timidity and caution; but if well shod or booted, he will move with boldness and freedom. Tepidity and timidity are generally associated together, and so are fervour and fearlessness. In all, the Greek has upon or over all, take the shield of faith, the creed of the Catholic Church, which will meet and extinguish all the fiery darts of the wicked one. These fiery darts are the insidious arguments, in the guise of philosophy, by which the heretics supported their monstrous system of error. The title here given to the devil, in the Greek, the wicked one, is the same by which Christ designated him in the Lord’s prayer, on both occasions on which he delivered the formula, deliver us from the wicked one, Matt. 6:13, Lk 11:4. The Vulgate has here the most wicked. Take for a helmet the assured hope of everlasting salvation, as the Apostle explains 1 Thess 5:8. The sword of the Spirit is the word of God, by means of which Christ over came the devil in the temptation, and put him to flight.

Eph 6:18. With all prayer and entreaty praying at every time in spirit, and in it watching in all earnestness and entreaty on behalf of all the saints.
Eph 6:19. And for me, that speech may be given me in opening my mouth with confidence, to make known the mystery of the Gospel;
Eph 6:20. For which I discharge an embassy in chains, so that in it I may have boldness to speak as I ought.

The Apostle looked forward with some degree of nervous apprehension, as this passage clearly shews, to his approaching interview with Nero, to whom he considered himself, as it were, accredited as an ambassador from a still greater King. He was most anxious to deliver his message clearly, faithfully, and fully, knowing how much might possibly depend on it. He makes the same earnest petition, on the same occasion, in the Epistle to the Colossians, 4:3. The intercessions offered by the Church for the Apostle of the nations on this occasion were doubtless heard, for although neither the emperor, nor his minister, the philosopher Seneca, were converted to the faith of Christ, they treated the ambassador of Christ with respect, and set him at liberty to pursue his apostolic labours in many distant countries, until the outbreak of the persecution some few years later.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Ephesians 1:1-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 20, 2016

This post includes Fr. Callan’s summary of the greeting (Eph 1:1-2); the dogmatic part of the Epistle (Eph 1:3-3:21), and his summary of Eph 1:3-14.


A Summary of Eph 1:1-2~St. Paul addresses his readers in the usual manner, asserting his divine election and commission to preach the Gospel of Christ, and wishing them grace and peace, which divine favors are respectively the source and the fruit of their supernatural union with God through Christ.

1. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.

Paul. It is to be noted that, whereas in the other Captivity Epistles Timothy’s name is associated with Paul’s, here, as in Rom., Gal., and the Pastoral letters, only the name of Paul is mentioned. As Timothy had been with Paul at Ephesus and was therefore well
known to the Ephesians, the omission of his name in the greeting of this Epistle is taken as an argument that the letter was not directed to the Church of Ephesus (see Introduction, No. IV).

Apostle, that is, a legate to whom is committed a mission with power and authority. Hence, the term implies more than messenger and it is applied in the New Testament to those who have been designated to preach the Gospel. By this title, therefore, Paul claims to be Christ’s legate, sent and commissioned by Christ to preach the Gospel. Thus, our Lord said : “As thou hast sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (John 17:18).

By the will of God, that is, Paul’s mission is both gratuitous and divine, and not the result of his own merits or choice. He has not taken the honor to himself, but has been called by God, as Aaron was (cf. Heb. 5:4).

To all the Saints. The omnibus of the Vulgate is not represented in the Greek. “Saints,” that is, those who by Baptism have been consecrated to God and live in union with Jesus Christ.

At Ephesus. These words are wanting in some of the best MSS., and are omitted by Origen, Basil, and other Fathers; they are probably not authentic. Tertullian tells us that Marcion in the second century knew this letter as the Epistle “To the Laodiceans,” which may have been the correct inscription (see Introduction, No. IV).

Faithful. This is a term frequently used by St. Paul. It designates those who with mind and heart have freely embraced the faith of Christ, subjecting themselves to His will and service.

2. Grace be to you, and peace from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace . . . peace. This is Paul’s usual salutation. Grace, God’s special help and favor, is the root and source of our supernatural union with Him and with Christ, and peace is the blessed fruit of that same union.

From God the Father, etc. In these words we have indicated the author and the fountain-head of the blessing which the Apostle imparts. Since the same divine favor is asked from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, we have here a proof of the divinity of our Lord: He and the Father are one (John 10:30).


A Summary of Eph 1:3-3:21~These three chapters constitute a sublime hymn of praise to God for the special divine blessings that have been vouchsafed to the whole world through Christ, our Redeemer and the Head of the Church. The Apostle begins with an act of thanksgiving, which recalls God’s eternal decree of love in our behalf (Eph 1:3-14); then he considers this decree as fulfilled in the Church, where the distinction between Jews and Gentiles has been blotted out (Eph 1:15-2:22); next he reflects on the special part that has fallen to him in revealing this mystery to the Gentiles (Eph 3:2-13); finally, he utters the prayer for the “Ephesians,” begun in iii. i and continued in Eph 3:14-19 after being interrupted by the digression of Eph 3:2-13, and closes with a doxology (Eph 3:20-21).


A Summary of Eph 1:3-14~In St. Paul’s time it was the custom to begin an ordinary letter with thanksgiving and prayer. The Apostle conformed to this convention in opening his Epistles, varying as a rule the wording of the formula.

This whole section in the original forms but one sentence, consisting of a long chain of clauses and constituting a sort of hymn in three parts, of which each ends with the refrain, “to the praise of his glory” (verses 3-6, 7-12, 13-14)? Verse 3 is an outburst of praise to God for all the blessings conferred on us in Christ, and the following verses are an amplification of this central thought as it unfolds in meditation. As his conceptions evolve, the Apostle ascribes to each of the three divine Persons of the most holy Trinity the action which by appropriation belongs to Him in the work of our redemption. Thus, in Eph 1:3-6 he speaks of the eternal Father who from eternity chose us as His adopted children; in Eph 1:7-13a he considers the execution of this eternal decree in time towards Jews and Gentiles through the meritorious blood of Christ; and in Eph 1:13b- 14 he turns to the Holy Ghost who through grace applies redemption to all, and whom believing we have received as the pledge of our eternal inheritance.

3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, in Christ:

Blessed, i.e., worthy of praise.

The God and Father, etc. More probably both “God” and “Father”—and not the word “Father” only—govern the genitive case that follows, because in Greek there is just one article, modifying “God,” and none before “Father”; so that the sense is: “Blessed be our God and Father, who is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Cf. John 20:17: “I ascend to my Father and to your Father, to my God and to your God.”

Who blessed us, i.e., you Gentiles and us Jews, all of whom are made partakers of the blessings of the Gospel. The reference is to God’s eternal purpose towards the elect, and hence we should read, “Who blessed us,” the definitely past tense.

With all spiritual blessings. The blessings now conferred on the faithful in Christianity are spiritual, as opposed to carnal and terrestrial goods, and as coming from the Holy Ghost and pertaining to man’s higher nature, such as redemption, remission of sins, filiation, and the like. In the Old Testament the rewards promised were temporal (cf. Gen 22:17; Deut 28:1-13, etc.).

In heavenly places (literally, In the heavenlies) . This unusual phrase occurs four more times in this Epistle (Eph 1:20, Eph 2:6, Eph 3:10, Eph 6:12), but nowhere else; and each time there is question of locality, save the last, perhaps. These blessings therefore come from heaven and lead to heaven, they are both present and future; and they are given “in Christ”—that is, through Christ, by virtue of our union with Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life that lead to the Father. Christ is the head, and we are the members of His mystical body, the Church; we share in His life. This doctrine of the union of the faithful with Christ, their mystical head, is uppermost in this section and throughout the whole Epistle. The phrase “in Christ” is found twenty-nine times in the Pauline Epistles, and only three times elsewhere, and that in 1 Peter. In forty-three other passages of St. Paul we find the enlarged phrase, “in Christ Jesus,” and four times “in the Christ.” Everywhere these phrases denote our close union with Christ as members of His mystical body.

4. As he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and unspotted in his sight in charity.

The Apostle now begins to explain God’s eternal decree in behalf of Christians. The Eternal Father chose us from eternity, that we might be holy and immaculate in His eyes, and out of love for us He freely predestined us to be His adopted children through His beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ (ver. 4-6).

As. This word connects the preceding verse with the present one, and the meaning is that the spiritual blessings which Christians now enjoy are the logical consequence of God’s eternal decree in their regard.

He chose us, i.e.. He selected Christians, apart from the rest of mankind, to be His special people, “the Israel of God” (Gal 6:16).

In Him, i.e., in Christ, as members of His mystical body. Christians are not conceived apart from Christ, their mystical head, either in God’s eternal decree or in time.

Before the foundation, etc., i.e., prior to all creation, from everlasting.

That we should be holy, that is, graced with virtues and free from vice. The reference is to an actual state of moral rectitude, and not to a future condition, nor to a merely external and imputed justice.

In his sight, i.e., in the eyes of God, who reads the secrets of the heart, to whom nothing is hid (Ps 7:9; Matt 5:48, Matt 6:4, Matt 6:6, Mat 6:18; Heb 4:13).

In charity, i.e., in love. Whether this love is divine or human, depends on the connection of this phrase with what precedes in the verse or with what follows. Some authorities connect it with “chose,” and so there would be question of God’s love which chose us; but this explanation is not likely, as the verb “chose” is too far separated from the phrase “in charity.” Many others, ancient and modern, connect the phrase with “holy and unspotted,” and thus the meaning would be that charity is the formal cause of our sanctification, and that charity is at once the bond and the crown of Christian virtues. St. Jerome and St. John Chrysostom, however, make the connection with what follows in the next verse, “predestinated,” and hence make the love of God for us the supreme cause of our predestination to be His adopted children. In this whole section the Apostle seems to be saying that love for us has been at the bottom of God’s free choice of us, and the motive of our predestination. Thus also St. John says: “God so loved the world, as to give His only-begotten Son, etc.” (John 3:16). Our adoption as children through Christ, therefore, is due only to God’s paternal love for us.

5. Who predestinated us unto the adoption of children through Jesus Christ unto himself: according to the purpose of his will:

Who predestinated us. Those who connect “in charity” of the preceding verse with this verse read as follows: “Who predestinated us in charity.” According to our way of thinking, predestination presupposes election, and election presupposes love. Thus, God first loved us, then chose us, and then predestined us. It is to be noted that there is question here, directly, only of predestination to faith and grace in this life; but of course, since faith and grace are themselves ordained to eternal salvation and given for that purpose, there would be also question here, indirectly, of predestination to final salvation. In either sense the predestination is gratuitous, in no way dependent on our merits.

Unto the adoption, etc. The proximate purpose of divine predestination was that we might become adopted children of God. The Son of God became man that men might become the sons of God, as St. Augustine says (cf. Gal 4:4-6). Perfect adoption consists in our transformation into the likeness of the glorious risen Saviour in the life to come, and presupposes as a means to this great end our present transformation by virtue into the likeness of Jesus. The use of the term “adoption” as applied to Christians is peculiarly Pauline. It is found five times in his Epistles (Gal 4:5; Rom 8:15, Rom 8:23, Rom 9:4; Eph 1:5), and nowhere else in the Bible.

Through Jesus Christ. Our adoption as sons of God is conferred through our Lord, as our Redeemer and Mediator: “You are all the children of God by faith, in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:26).

Unto himself, i.e., unto the Father, Our redemption originated with the Father and goes back to Him as its end. The eternal purpose of the Father was “that we should be called, and should be the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). A less probable interpretation refers “unto himself” to the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

According to the purpose, etc. Better, “according to the good pleasure, etc.” Here we have indicated the radical reason and the true efficient cause of our redemption, election, etc., namely, the gratuitous will of God. Hence St. Thomas says: “Praedestinationis divinae nulla alia causa est, nec esse potest, quam simplex Dei voluntas. Unde patet etiam, quod divinse voluntatis praedestinantis non est alia ratio, quam divina bonitas filiis communicanda.”

The will of God is “the ultimate account of all divine procedure, from the creature’s point of view. Nothing in that Will is capricious; all is supremely wise and good. But it enfolds an ‘unseen universe’ of reasons and causes wholly beyond our discovery; and here precisely is one main field for the legitimate exercise of faith; personal confidence as to the unknown reasons for the revealed action of a Known God” (Bishop Moule, Epistle to the Ephesians, hoc loco).

6. Unto the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he graced us in the beloved.

Unto the praise, etc. Now the Apostle points out the final cause of God’s love, choice, predestination and adoption of us Christians. The divine will actuated by love was the prime moving cause on God’s part, and His glory is the final cause of the whole divine process in our regard. “Grace” here means not so much the supernatural gift of grace as the fountain of God’s gifts, or His liberality and benevolence; and this benevolence of God towards us is described as shining, or gloriously manifesting itself. Hence, the final cause of our adoption as sons of God through Christ—that to which our adoption was ordained as regards God—is praise, or the public and jubilant exaltation in the sight of men and angels of the divine munificence gloriously manifesting itself towards us (Voste, Epist. ad Eph.).

By which, etc. The preposition in of the Vulgate should be omitted here, as it is not represented in the best Greek MSS., where we read ης (a genitive by attraction of the preceding noun χαριτος, for the accusative or the dative). We should therefore translate: “By which, etc.”

He graced us. The verb here is aorist, referring to a definitely past action. It is a rare verb which is found elsewhere in the New Testament only in Luke 1:28, and its meaning here goes back to the corresponding word in the verse, χάρις, which we said meant benevolence. Therefore the sense of the verb εχαριτωσεν in this passage is to pursue with benevolence. Hence the meaning is that God, pursuing us with His benevolence, has rendered us lovable or gracious. Explaining this verb St. Chrysostom says: “He not only delivered us from sin, but He made us lovable”; and Theodoret has: “The death of the Lord made us worthy of love.”

In the beloved (εν τω ηγαπημενω) . In the Vulgate the words filio suo are added as an explanation of dilecto. The meaning is given by Monod: “The Son, lovable in Himself, is essentially The Beloved; we, unlovable in ourselves, are accepted because of, and in, the Beloved; and if we are called beloved in our turn, it is because God sees us in His Son” (Aux Ephes., quoted by Moule, op. cit, hoc loco). Thus, the grace of adoption has come to us, not on account of any merit of ours, but only through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, the beloved Son of God. It is to be noted that St. Paul is everywhere insistent on the mediatorial merits of Christ.

7. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins, according to the riches of his grace,

Having considered the eternal decree by which God chose and predestined us to be His adopted children, the Apostle now proceeds (Eph 1:7-14) to speak of the execution of this decree in time. “Loving us from eternity. He has rendered us lovable in time” (Corluy). Jesus, the Incarnate Word, has redeemed us from sin by His blood (Eph 1:7); in consequence we have received in the supernatural order all wisdom and prudence (Eph 1:8), the supreme mystery of the will of God to unite all things in Christ being made known (Eph 1:9-10). All these things have happened to Jews and Gentiles, called together into the New Israel (Eph 1:11-13a), the Holy Spirit, the pledge of our eternal inheritance, being poured out on all (Eph 1:13b-14). Cf. Voste, op. cit., hoc loco.

In whom, i.e., in the beloved, our Lord Jesus Christ. In virtue of our union with Him “we have redemption, etc.,” that is, liberation from the devil and sin, and from the anger of God, which redemption our Saviour has purchased for us by the shedding of His blood for us on the cross (Matt 20:28; Col 1:14, Col 1:20; 1 Pet 1:18 ff; 1 Cor 6:20, etc.). Our redemption has been effected by the voluntary offering on the part of Christ of His life as a ransom-price for our souls; Christ died that we might live.

The remission of sins. This explains in what our redemption consisted, namely, in the forgiveness of our sins (or, literally, trespasses of all kinds).

According to the riches, etc. This is a favorite phrase with St. Paul, by which he wishes to show the immensity of God’s goodness and love towards us. It would have been a great favor merely to have received God’s forgiveness, and a still greater favor to have received it through the giving of His divine Son for us; but to be forgiven at the price of the pouring out of the very blood of God’s only Son, this manifests a love for us on the part of the Eternal Father which surpasses all bounds, and which is, therefore, “according to the riches of His grace.” The shedding of blood was an acknowledgment of God’s supreme dominion over life and death which sin had challenged, suffering made atonement for transgression, and merit won back the graces lost (cf. Hitchcock, op. cit., hoc loco).

8. Which he caused to abound in us in all wisdom and prudence;

Which he caused to abound in us. The Greek here reads: ης επερισσευσεν, the genitive of attraction ης being used for the accusative ην. The subject of the verb is God, understood. Hence we should read: “Which (grace) he (God) caused to abound in us.”

In all wisdom, etc. The grace of God which has abounded in our favor has not only procured for us remission of sins, but it has also given us insight into the mysteries of the divine will.

“Wisdom” (σοφια) means a knowledge of principles, and here it has reference to a speculative knowledge of the great mysteries of faith. “Prudence,” or “intelligence” (φρονησει) , pertains to actions, and is a practical knowledge of good to be done or evil to be avoided; prudence or intelligence is the wisdom of the just (Luke 1:17). Some expositors think there is question here of the wisdom and prudence which God has exercised, rather than of the wisdom and prudence which He has communicated to the faithful; but the common opinion and the context of verse 9 favor the latter view.

9. Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in him,

The Apostle now proceeds to show how God has made His grace to abound in all wisdom and prudence in the saints, namely, by making known to them and helping them to understand the divine purpose, long concealed but now revealed through the Incarnation, of uniting all things in Christ.

Having made known, etc. γνωρισας is from the Greek word (γνωρίζω) implies the revelation of hidden truths, and it occurs frequently in St. Paul. The time referred to is the actual revelation of the Gospel.

The mystery, etc., i.e., the hidden secret of His will or purpose to unite all, Jews and Gentiles, in Christ—to make Christ the term and, as it were, the synthesis of the whole re-established supernatural order (Voste). The word μυστηριον occurs twenty-one times in St. Paul, and six times in this Epistle. In the Vulgate it is rendered eight times by sacramentum (including the present passage), and at other times by mysterium. It would be better to translate it everywhere by mysterium, and thus avoid the confusion arising from the technical meaning now given to the word sacrament.

According to his good pleasure, i.e., according to the good pleasure of the Father who has made known to the saints the hidden purpose of His will.

Which he purposed in him, i.e., in the Son (εν αυτω), the Messiah. The Father’s purpose was in Christ, the Son, inasmuch as it was to be realized through the Son (omnia per Ipsum facta sunt, et iterum omnia per Ipsum reconcilianda et restituenda sunt).

10. In the dispensation of the fullness of times, to re-establish all things in Christ, that are in heaven and on earth, in him.

In the dispensation, etc. The Greek word οικονομιαν, here rendered “dispensation,” really means stewardship, house-management; and the sense of this passage, in connection with the preceding verse, is that, when sin had disrupted the primitive harmony of creation, the Eternal Father purposed or decreed to send His Son into the world when the time determined by Himself had arrived, and to make Him the supreme head and administrator of all things in His spiritual household, the Church, for the purpose of reuniting and reconciling all things to Himself through this same divine Son. This work of recapitulating and reconciling all things in Christ began with the Incarnation, but it will not be completed till the end of the world, at the general resurrection.

All things, etc., i.e., men and angels, the material universe and the spiritual, are all made subject to Christ, the supreme head of the supernatural order, and all are to be reunited and reconciled to the Father through Christ, since all are in need of this reunion and reconciliation, all having been thrown into disharmony by sin. The Greek verb here translated “to re-establish” means “to restore,” “to reunite.” In the beginning all creatures—angels, men and the physical world—formed one grand, harmonious family all subject to God. But sin disrupted this primeval unity and subordination of part to part and of the whole to the Creator; and so the Eternal Father sent His Son to reunite the dissevered parts of His Creation and to restore the original harmony between the rational and the irrational, earth and heaven, men and angels (cf. Rom 8:19 ff.). Thus, the redemption equals creation in its extension. All things were created through the Word, and all things must be summed up and reconciled to the Father through the Word.

In him, i.e., in Christ, a repetition for the sake of emphasis; but the phrase ought to be connected with the following verse.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 6, 2015

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s summary analysis of Ephesians chapter 4, followed by his commentary on 4:1-7, 11-13. Text in purple indicates his paraphrasing of the verses he is commenting on.


In this chapter, the Apostle commences the moral part of the Epistle. He inculcates union and concord, and in order to persuade the Ephesians to attend to his admonitions in this matter, he reminds them of his sufferings on their account. Furthermore, with a view to secure this necessary and important branch of concord and union, he recounts the several relations of unity in which they were already identified (1–7).

Seeing that the unequal distribution of spiritual gifts might be an obstacle to this union of soul, the Apostle obviates this by showing, that these gifts were bestowed not according to the merits of those favoured with them, but gratuitously, according to the will of Christ (7). This he shows from Psalm 67.—and turning aside from his subject, he proves from the prophetic quotation the divinity and eternal generation of Christ against the heretics of the day (8–10).

Returning to the subject from which he had digressed at verse 8, he points out the different gifts and offices (12), their duration to the end of the world (13). He more clearly points out the ends to be obtained by the institution of the ministry in the Church, and the gifts conferred on her, which are unity of faith, and an increase of Christian virtue and knowledge (14, 15). He illustrates this increase of Christian virtue in the mystical body of the Church, by the example of the natural increase of the human body (16).

Resuming the subject of exhortation with which he commenced (verse 1), he conjures them to lead lives different from those of the unconverted Gentiles, of whom he draws a most frightful picture. He represents their interior state or the dispositions of their souls, which comprise vanity of thought, blindness of intellect, obduracy of will (17, 18). He next describes the exterior fruits of these corrupt passions of heart, their insatiable impurities of every description (19). The life of Christians is all contrary to this (20, 21). A truly Christian conduct consists in two things—in putting off the old man, and putting on the new (22–24). He specifies a few of the deeds of the old man, which are, vices of the tongue (25), passions of the heart, especially those of the irascible appetite (26), deeds committed by the hands (27, 28). He dwells on the vices of the tongue, and recommends the language of edification. He particularizes the faults of the tongue, and finally recommends the language of kindness and charity.

Eph 4:1 I therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation in which you are called: ‎

Since, therefore, God in his infinite goodness has conferred on you so many blessings and privileges in calling you to the faith, I, Paul, who am in chains for having announced the Gospel to you, exhort and beseech you to lead a life becoming the exalted dignity to which you have been raised.

“A prisoner in the Lord,” means the same as “prisoner of Jesus Christ.”—(3:1).

Eph 4:2 With all humility and mildness, with patience, supporting one another in charity.

Manifesting an humble opinion of yourselves in your dealing towards all, together with the spirit of meekness opposed to anger; exercising also a spirit of long-suffering and forbearance, in regard to the defects of others, how disagreeable soever; and this, from a principle of charity, or, the love of our neighbour.

“With all humility.” Shunning every appearance of arrogance. “With patience,” in Greek, μακροθνμιας, long-suffering, the virtue, which is slow to anger. “In charity, patiently bearing the insults offered to us, and slow in resenting them, not from natural or prudential motives, but from a motive of charity.”

Eph 4:3 Careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Be particularly zealous in preserving true concord of heart and union of soul, making the spirit of peace the bond by which this union of soul is effected.

“In the bond of peace.” The practice of the spirit of peace is the tie, or chain that will closely bind together this concord of mind and union of heart.

Eph 4:‎4 One body and one Spirit: as you are called in one hope of your calling. ‎

(Unity pervades your entire religious system). You are members of the one body of the Church: you have one vivifying spirit, the Holy Ghost, which animates the Church; you have but one object of Christian hope and of future enjoyment.

In this and the two following verses, are enumerated the several relations of unity in which they were closely bound together, and this is done with a view of supplying the most powerful motive for union of heart and soul (as in Paraphrase, verse 6). “One body,” i.e., the body of the Church, of which Christ is head. “One Spirit,” the Holy Ghost that animates the Church. Some Commentators, and among the rest Estius, interpret the verse thus:—As you are one body, so you ought to be also one Spirit. But, the construction in Paraphrase is preferable; because, in this entire passage, the Apostle is enumerating the different points in which their religion unites them. “As you are called in one hope,” &c. There is unity in the object of your Christian hope.

Eph 4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism. ‎

You have all one and the same Lord, Jesus Christ, who by purchase and in right of redemption, has a special claim on you; you all believe one and the same thing; you have but one baptism, the gate through which you entered the Church.

“One faith.” The objects of Christian faith are the same for all, although the mode of believing them may be different; in some articles, explicit faith is absolutely necessary; in other points, implicit faith contained in the general belief of whatever the Church teaches, is sufficient. “One baptism,” whereby we are regenerated and admitted to heirship, as sons of God.

Eph 4:6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all.

You all worship the same God—who requires unanimous worshippers—the same common Father, who requires in his sons the concord of brethren, whose dominion is over all—whose Providence extends to all—and whose spirit dwells and acts in all. (From all this the conclusion, therefore, is, that as you are already united under so many relations, you should not fail in the most important branch of unity now inculcated, viz., union and concord of heart and soul).

“One God and Father of all,” refers to the entire Trinity, and the following attributes are by appropriation applied to the different Persons; “above all,” to the Father, who, as first source and principle, has a lofty dominion over all things; “through all,” to the Son, “by whom all things were made” (John, 1:3); and “in us all,” to the Holy Ghost. In the ordinary Greek copies, we have, και εν πασιν ὐμιν, “and in you all.” Critics generally prefer the Vulgate. In the Codex Vaticanus, it is δια παντων εν πασιν, “through all in all,” και, and ὐμιν, are omitted. Others understand each quality to refer to each of the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. “Above all,” by dominion and authority; “through all,” by Providence; and “in all,” by immensity and inhabitation.

The words, “one faith,” warrant the conclusion, that the members of the Church cannot have different creeds. For, St. Paul addresses the Ephesians as members of the Church—“One body”—and of them, as such, he says, they can have but “one faith;” which would certainly be untrue, if the members of the Church could have different creeds. Hence, the oneness or unity of faith is such as to exclude heretics from the unity of the Church, their creed being different from that professed by the true Church. Moreover, the unity of their faith is proposed by the Apostle to the Ephesians, and, of course, to all Christians, as the model of the unity of spirit, which he is inculcating (verse 3). Now, if their unity of spirit were to resemble the unity of faith between heretics and Catholics, instead of being concord, would it not be the very essence of discord? Possibly, it may be said in reply, that the unity of baptism, which is referred to by the Apostle, “one baptism,” does not prevent the validity of baptism in an heretical communion. But, there is a very wide disparity between baptism and faith in this respect; because, the profession of heresy is not directly opposed to the administration of baptism, or destructive of its efficacy—all the essential requisites for the sacrament may be found among heretics—whereas, the very nature of faith excludes heresy; heresy is directly opposed to, and destructive of, the virtue of faith; since it is only by positively rejecting some point of faith admitted and defined by the Church, or by pertinaciously maintaining some error rejected and condemned by Her, a man becomes a heretic. The only case that would furnish even the appearance of a parity, would be the case of a heresy regarding the essentials of baptism; this should, moreover, be reduced to act in the defective mode of administering baptism. But even in this case, there would not be a perfect parity, because even if such a heresy were carried out in practice, there would be no baptism. But, every heresy has not baptism for object; and, hence, not even an apparent parity. From the very idea, and the very nature of heresy, a man professing it, cannot have the same faith with a member of the Church, from whose belief the heretic dissents. It matters not whether the doctrine denied be fundamental or non-fundamental, since any difference in faith, fundamental or otherwise, would be an improper model of that unity of spirit which the Apostle so strongly inculcates in this passage.

Eph 4:‎7 But to every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the giving of Christ.

It is true, the gifts of grace are unequally distributed; but this should be no obstacle to unity and peace, since these are gratuitous gifts, given not in proportion to our merits, but according to the measure in which Christ thinks fit to bestow them.

The Apostle in this verse obviates a practical difficulty, which might present itself to the minds of the Ephesians against this unity of spirit, arising from the unequal distribution of spiritual gifts. These gifts, he says, are gratuitously given by Christ, solely as he pleases and thinks proper to bestow them; and hence, as his object in conferring them was to beget unanimity; their gratuitousness, which was independent of the merits of any one, should engender feelings of gratitude rather than of envy. The Apostle afterwards shows from the analogy of the natural body, the different members of which could not be alike, that in the mystical or moral body of the Church, this very difference of functions and offices should be a source of unity. The latter idea, which is merely alluded to here, is fully developed in chapter 12:14, &c., &c., of the First Epistle to the Corinthians.

Eph 4:11 And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and other some evangelists, and other some pastors and doctors: ‎

To resume the subject digressed from at verse (8), Christ, I said, has distributed different gifts and offices in his Church according to his good will and pleasure; for, he gave to his Church, some to be Apostles; others, to be prophets; others, to be Evangelists; others, to be pastors and doctors.

He here resumes the subject from which he had digressed at verse 8, and enumerates the different offices instituted in the Church, and the different gratuitous gifts, with which Christ favoured her. “Apostles;” the first and most exalted office in the Church.—(See Romans, 1:1; Galatians, 1:1). “Some prophets.” By these “prophets” of the New Law, are meant those, who were gifted with supernatural lights in expounding the abstruse passages of SS. Scripture, and of the ancient prophecies. To some of them was also imparted the gift of foretelling future events (v.g.), Agabus. St. Ambrose tells us, that this office is now filled by the expositors of the SS. Scripture, and by the preachers of the Word. “Others, Evangelists.” The word “Evangelist,” in its original signification, refers to the inspired penman who wrote the life of our Divine Redeemer, in the four Gospels. But here, if we look to the place assigned to it, after the “Prophets,” it refers to the preachers of the Gospel. In this sense, Philip is called an Evangelist, in the 21st chapter of the Acts, although he never wrote a Gospel, and St. Paul, writing to Timothy (2 Epistle, 4), tells him, “do the work of an Evangelist.” This office is still fulfilled in the Church by the missionaries, who carry the Gospel to foreign climes. “And other pastors and teachers.” This refers to those holding jurisdiction in the Church, particularly to bishops, who are to be at the same time doctors as well as pastors; St. Paul unites both offices, as both ought to be inseparably connected.

Eph 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the word of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: ‎

The end or object of this external institution was, “for the work of the ministry,” that each one might zealously discharge his own individual function, which could not be easily effected if one person were charged with all; “for the edification of the body of Christ,” that this faithful discharge of individual functions might advance the spiritual good of the Church; “for the perfecting of the saints,” so that by this spiritual advancement of the Church, the saints, or rather the Church of the saints, might reach that full perfection, in the knowledge of faith and practice of morality, which it can attain in this life.

He here points out the end or object of the institution of this ministry. The order of the words should be transposed (as in Paraphrase), placing “the perfecting of the saints,” last. The very nature of the matter in question, the order of duties and results, require this. Because the “work of the ministry” precedes the “edification of the body of Christ,” i.e., of the Church, and from this latter, follows “the perfecting of the saints.” Moreover, the particle, προς, prefixed in the Greek to the word “perfecting,” shows it to be the end and final cause of the rest. Every minister of the Gospel should frequently call to mind the end of the institution of the sacred ministry, viz., the edification of the Church. All his actions should tend to promote this great object. Woe to him, if, through neglect of positive scandal, he be the guilty instrument of ruining those souls, for which God has shed the last drop of his sacred blood! Judicium durissimum his qui præsunt.

Eph 4:13 Until we all meet into the unity of faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fulness of Christ:

The duration of this ministry—unto the end of the world; that is to say, unto that period when we all, who are destined for the true Church, being united in the belief of the same faith, and in the knowledge of the Son of God, shall, by our gradual association to her, have arrived at that state of perfection or plenitude of the Church, similar to the perfection of a full-grown man; when after the last of the faithful is aggregated to her, Christ shall have attained, in his mystical body, a degree of plenitude and completion analogous to the state of perfection which his natural body had attained at his death.

The Apostle points out the duration of these functions, to the end of the world. “Unto a perfect man,” i.e., when we shall have arrived at that period of full manhood in the Church, similar to the perfection of a full-grown man, which is more fully explained in the following words, “unto the measure of the age of the fulness of Christ.” in which is instituted a comparison between the perfect proportions of Christ’s natural body at his death, and the perfection which his mystical body shall attain at the end of the world. The perfection in Christ’s mystical body shall not take place until the last of the faithful is associated to the Church, that is to say, until the end of the world. This interpretation, the substance of which is given in A’Lapide, and briefly alluded to by Estius, seems the most probable and the most natural interpretation of the passage. The Church is compared to a “perfect” or full-grown “man,” in the same way, that it is often compared to an edifice, or building, &c. “Upon the measure of the age,” εἰς μετρον ἡλικίας του πληρώματος τοῦ Χρἰστοῦ, may signify, unto the measure of the size (or stature) of the fulness of Christ, or, unto the measure of the stature of Christ. It is deserving of remark, how frequently the Apostle uses the word, plerōma, in this Epistle, in allusion to the false system of the Gnostics. Others, by “perfect man,” understand, until we became perfect spiritual men, and arrive at the measure and age, in which Christ may be fully formed in us. The former interpretation seems, however, preferable.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Ephesians 2:4-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 10, 2015

This post opens with Father MacEvilly’s brief summary analysis of Ephesians 2 followed by his comments on today’s reading (Eph 2:4-10). Text in purple indicates 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 2:4 But God (who is rich in mercy) for his exceeding charity wherewith he loved us

God, who is rich in mercy, owing to the excessive charity with which he loved us,

“But God.” The particle “but,” which breaks the sentence, has been introduced, in the opinion of St. Jerome, by some copyist, or, its introduction may be owing to the ardour of the Apostle. “His exceeding charity.” God’s love for us may be justly termed excessive, and hence his passion is termed “his excess” in the Gospel. The master is humbled for the slave, the Creator for the work of his own hands, an outraged God submits to unparalleled torture to atone for the outrages offered himself by a sinful creature. Good God! how the thought of thy Passion, with all its circumstances, confounds all human reasoning. Ut servum redimeres, Filium tradidisti.

Eph 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together in Christ (by whose grace you are saved)

Even when, like you (verse 1) we were spiritually dead in our sins, bestowed upon us spiritual life, after the example of Christ, by raising us from spiritual death, as he raised him from the grave (by whose grace you have been saved).

From verse 1 to verse 4, should be included in a parenthesis. The Apostle here repeats what he commenced in verse 1, with merely a difference of person, “us” for “you,” (verse 1). “And when we were dead in sins, he quickened us,” (of course the word “you,” is also included). “Together in Christ,” i.e., after the example of Christ. His resurrection was the model of our spiritual resuscitation from the grave of sin. (“By whose grace,” &c.); “whose” is not in the Greek, which runs thus, χαριτι εστε σεσωσμεν οι, by grace, ye are saved.

Eph 2:6 And hath raised us up together and hath made us sit together in the heavenly places, through Christ Jesus.

And rendered us partakers of the new and glorified life of Christ, and made us sit with him in heaven, by the assurance and pledge given us, that our present hopes shall, at a future day, be surely realized.

“And hath raised us up together,” &c., is understood by some of a spiritual resuscitation from sin to a life of justice, thereby causing us to have our conversation with Christ in heaven. Others make it refer to the future resurrection and glorification of our bodies, which, although a future event, is still read in the past tense. “Hath raised us up,” on account of the certainty of its accomplishment. The Apostle here refers to the exercise of the power of which he spoke, verse 19, of preceding chapter. Hence, it includes our spiritual resurrection at present, and the future resurrection of our bodies, and all has been effected “through Christ Jesus.”

Eph 2:7 That he might shew in the ages to come the abundant riches of his grace, in his bounty towards us in Christ Jesus.

And all this he has done for the purpose of manifesting in future ages, unto the end of time, the abundant riches of his grace by the benignity he has shown us in Christ Jesus—that thus he may be glorified in his gifts.

“Ages to come,” are understood by some of the time after the general judgment. They more probably refer, however (as in Paraphrase), to the ages that are to elapse from the coming of Christ to the end of the world. “In his bounty towards us.” He has displayed his superabundant riches in the magnitude and number of the blessings conferred on us through Christ Jesus.

Eph 2:8 For by grace you are saved through faith: and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God.

For, it is owing to the gratuitous benefits of Christ, you have obtained initial salvation, or justification through faith; and this faith is not of yourselves, it is to be classed as a grace; for, it is the gift of God.

The Apostle here shows why it is he said in the preceding verse, that the final cause of God’s blessings towards us was to manifest the abundant riches of his grace, “for, by grace you are saved,” which is generally understood of justification, which is initial salvation, and which, if persevered in, will infallibly lead to consummate salvation. It is through faith also we obtain this salvation or justification, which faith, although not absolutely the first grace received by infidels, who receive many actual graces before it: (hence, the proposition, fides est prima gratia, was condemned in the bull, “Auctorem fidei,”) is still the first grace in the order of justification, being, according to the Council of Trent, initium humanæ Salutis, radix et fundamentum omnis justificationis.—(SS. vi. chapter 8). St. Paul, far from supposing faith itself not to be a grace, supposes it to be the first in the order of graces, by which we are justified. “And this not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God.” Some include these words within a parenthesis. They make “this” refer to faith, as if he said: I do not exclude faith from the number of graces to which I ascribe justification, for, “it is a gift of God,” and they connect “not of works,” in the following verse, with “you are saved through faith … not of works,” &c. Others make “this” refer to salvation through faith, but it would be quite a useless tautology in that case; for, by saying “by grace,” he would have sufficiently conveyed that it was “not of yourselves.” From this passage many of the Holy Fathers proved that faith was the gift of God.

Eph 2:9 Not of works, that no man may glory.

By faith, and not by works preceding faith, you have been saved, or justified; that no man may glory as if he was justified through any merit of his own.

He speaks of works performed by their own natural powers, without faith; for, he opposes such works to faith (verse 8), and it is only in such works a “man could glory.” He is here speaking of first justification, which we must all hold to be quite gratuitous, and to which no merits on our part, either actual or foreseen, could give a claim.

Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus in good works, which God hath prepared that we should walk in them.

For, we are his workmanship, having received from him a second creation in our spiritual regeneration in baptism through Christ Jesus, for the purpose of performing the good and holy works which lie prepared, in order that we should perseveringly exercise ourselves in them.

We are, in our justification, his creation, his work, which proves that justification is to be ascribed to God’s grace, and not to our own natural strength. Hence, we have no more cause for glorying in our justification, which is a kind of second creation conferred on us, through the merits of Christ, than would the world have for glorying in its first creation. “In good works,” i.e., for, or, unto good works. The Hebrew idiom often gives, in, the meaning of, unto, for. “Which God has prepared,” &c. God is said to prepare good works, by determining to grant us grace, the seed without which no good works conducing to salvation could exist. There is no argument here against our own free co-operation in the work of justification; because the implied comparison between our justification and creation is introduced merely for the purpose of showing the utter gratuitousness of justification, and how little grounds it leaves for glorying. Qui creavit te sine te, non salvabit te sine te.—St. Augustine.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Ephesians 2:4-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 10, 2015

This post opens with Father Callan’s brief summary of Ephesians 2:1-10 followed by his comments on today’s reading (Eph 2:4-10).

A Summary of Ephesians 2:1-10

The Gentiles were formerly dead in their sins, and the Jews, following after the lusts of the flesh, were no better; but God in His mercy through Christ has raised up both the one and the other, and made them heirs to heavenly thrones, in order that He might manifest to the coming ages His infinite goodness. All this has been gratuitous on His part, for we are saved by grace, and not by our own natural works. Thus, we are new creatures in Christ, that henceforth we may live lives worthy of our high calling.

Eph 2:4. But God (who is rich in mercy), for his exceeding charity wherewith he loved us,
Eph 2:5. Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together in Christ (by whose grace you are saved),
Eph 2:6. And hath raised us up together, and hath made us sit together in the heavenly places, through Christ Jesus:

The Apostle now goes on to say that, when both Jews and Gentiles were spiritually dead because of their sins, God, moved by His great love for them, “quickened” them (i.e., brought them back to life), and “raised” them up from the grave of death, and
“made” them “sit together in the heavenly places” with the glorified
Christ (Eph 1:3). All this has been done by grace, without any merit on their part; and of course what is here said of Jews and Gentiles is also true of all men of all time who are regenerated in Christ.

The compound verbs which appear here in the Latin and Greek
of verses 5 and 6, and which can be respectively rendered in English
by co-vivified, co-raised, and co-seated, show the intimate union
that exists between Christ and the members of His Church, who
constitute His mystical body. We are with Christ as His companions,
and in Him as members of His mystical body, the Church. St. Paul
is speaking of our spiritual restoration and our sanctification by
which we are already admitted to a participation in the divine nature
and to a foretaste of life eternal; hence the use of the aorist, or
definitely past tense. Our glorification is already a fact in germ.

Eph 2:7. That he might shew in the ages to come the abundant riches of his grace, in his bounty towards us in Christ Jesus.

Here we have indicated the purpose of our present transformation by grace into the likeness of Christ, which is that in the life to come beyond the grave the Eternal Father might show to the angels and to the elect in heaven, where only so great a benefit can be perfectly understood, the infinite treasures of grace which of His own goodness He has bestowed on the saved through Jesus Christ, and by reason of their union with Christ. The Apostle neyer tires of repeating that all the graces and benefits we receive are given and shall be given us “in Christ Jesus,” and this is why the Church always prays through Christ.

The phrase “in the ages to come” is understood by some interpreters to refer to the period during which the preaching of the Gospel will go on in the present world, by others to all future periods of development in God’s kingdom ; but it is better to take it as alluding to heaven, where the goodness of God towards us will be
perfectly manifested and perfectly understood. We must not think of “the world to come as a monotonous stretch of time. As the life of God is pure activity without any element of inertia or passivity, the life of those who will share in the Divine Nature will be active. To us, wearied with labour, and burdened with care, heaven naturally becomes a symbol of rest. But labour implies a strength unequal to perfect mastery of the work; and the good, opposed to it, is
not rest or inactivity, but the play of an artist or a child. So we
may picture the life of God as one of play. And the life of the
Church in heaven may be imaged as that of God’s kindergarten, the
knowledge of Him ever growing deeper, the vision of Him ever
growing fuller, and His glory ever growing brighter. We cannot
describe that life; but such an expression as ‘the ages’ implies a
history of period after period, in which God will more and more
exhibit the overflowing wealth of His grace by kindness to those in
union with His Incarnate Son” (Hitchcock, The Epistle to the
Ephesians, hoc loco).

Eph 2:8. For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God;

In verse 5 St. Paul said we are saved hy grace, and now he goes back to that thought and proves his assertion. Our justification and our salvation are the result of grace, with faith as a necessary condition (cf. Rom. 3:22 ff.); and neither the faith that precedes nor the justification or salvation that follows can be said to be due in any way to our natural works, for the simple reason that there is no proportion between these supernatural gifts and our natural works; they belong to diflFerent orders.

For. This word shows the connection with the preceding verse, where it is said that God’s favors to us are the consequence of His bounty towards us.

You are saved. The Apostle now addresses his Gentile readers, and hence changes to the second person.

Through faith, i.e., by means of faith, as a necessary condition of their salvation.

And that. The pronoun “that” here is neuter in Greek, and it is uncertain to what it may refer. St. Chrysostom, St. Jerome and others referred it to “faith”; but faith is a feminine noun. It seems better, therefore, to make the reference be to the whole preceding sentence, which declares in a positive manner that our salvation is entirely the work of God’s grace. To this general positive teaching the Apostle then adds in a negative way that this salvation is not of ourselves, “for it is the gift of God.” That faith alone is a pure gift of God is also certain (cf. 2 Cor. 4:13; Phil. 1:29), though that is not the main point here. St. Paul is accustomed to use the pronoun “that” (τουτο) in reference to the preceding sentence, and not to the preceding word (as in 1 Cor. 6:8; Phil. 1:28); hence we understand it here as referring to our deliverance by grace through faith.

Eph 2:9. Not of works, that no man may glory.

The conclusion of the preceding verse is further reinforced in a negative way by saying here that our salvation is not the result
of “works” (i.e., of any natural works), whether of the Law (Rom. 3:28) or otherwise; so that all the glory of our salvation may be referred to God, and not to any man, “that no man may glory” (i.e., boast that his salvation is due to himself). If anyone will glory in this matter, let him glory in the Lord (1 Cor. 1:31; 2 Cor. 10:17; Gal. 6:14). And the reason for this is immediately given.

Eph 2:10. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath prepared that we should walk in them.

For we are his workmanship, etc., i.e., we as Christians are His making, for He has “created” us, as it were, anew “in Christ Jesus” (i.e., as members of Christ’s mystical body in the supernatural
order) “unto good works” (i.e., with a view to good works, as an inseparable condition of our new creation in grace); which good works God from eternity has decreed and prepared for us, not to the exclusion of our free will, but presupposing the right use of free will, for he adds “that we should walk in them” (i.e., God has so prepared those good works for us that we should freely do them in time).

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Ephesians 6:1-20

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 19, 2014

This post opens with Fr. Callan’s brief summary of Ephesians 6:10-20, followed by his comments on the individual verses.

A Summary of Ephesians 6:10-20.

After giving particular precepts for the home circle, St. Paul now passes to the outer world and admonishes all Christians to be ready for the warfare which must be waged against the enemies of their salvation. He first exhorts his readers to prepare for the conflict (Eph 6:10-13); then describes the armor of the Christian warrior (Eph 6:14-17); and finally reminds them of the necessity of continual prayer and vigilance as the means of vanquishing Satan and his hosts, and asks in particular that they would pray unceasingly for himself and the spread of the Gospel (Eph 6:18-20).

Eph 6:10. Finally, brethren, be strengthened in the Lord, and in the might of his power.

Finally. Literally, “For the rest,” i.e., as to what remains to be said regarding necessary precepts.

Brethren is wanting in the best MSS., and is probably not authentic, as it does not occur elsewhere as here used in this Epistle.

In the Lord, the one source of spiritual strength.

And in the might of his power, i.e., in His omnipotent power.

Eph 6:11. Put you on the armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil.

The armor of God, i.e., the spiritual panoply which God has provided for our spiritual warfare and by which the necessary strength is given us to win the combat against the secret attacks of the devil.

To stand, i.e., to resist his wiles and temptations.

The devil. See on Eph 2:2. That passage reads: “Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that now worketh on the children of unbelief.” Commenting on this Fr. Callan wrote:

Wherein, etc., i.e., in which state of moral death you lived and wrought in your pagan past.

According to the course of this world, i.e., according to the evil principles and customs of this present order of things, which is under the sway and influence of Satan, who is “the prince of the power of the air” (i.e., who is the ruler of the authority of the air, or the evil ruler whose sphere of authority is the air, and who exercises his nefarious influence “on the children, etc.,” on those who refuse to believe, or who reject the Gospel). Among the Jews the air was popularly regarded as the abode of evil spirits, as heaven was God’s abode and the earth the place of man’s sojourn. Moreover, Satan’s legitimate sphere of activity is no longer in heaven (Rev 12:9; Luke 1018); nor is it on the earth, which has been reclaimed by the Death and Resurrection of Christ. Hence, the Apostle speaks of it figuratively as being between heaven and earth—in the air.

Power is more probably to be taken in an abstract sense for domination, and “spirit,” a genitive in Greek, is governed by “prince,” and means the mind or tendency by which the evil spirit, Satan, is actuated.

Children of unbelief, or better, “sons of disobedience,” is a Hebraism to signify all those who do not accept the Gospel.

Eph 6:12. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.

It is necessary that our armor be strong, for our struggle “is not against flesh and blood,” i.e., against weak mortal men, “but against principalities, etc.,” i.e., against the evil spirits of darkness; “against the rulers of the world, etc.,” i.e., against the demons who are the leaders of the world of sin and moral darkness; “against the spirits of wickedness,” i.e., evil spiritual beings and forces, “in the high places,” i.e., in the place where these evil spirits dwell and where our battle with them is waged (see on Eph 1:3, 2:2). For other allusions to the Evil One and his mysterious authority over the world of men, see Luke 4:6; John 14:30, 16:11; 2 Cor. 4:4; 1 John 5:18.

Eph 6:13. Therefore take unto you the armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect.

Therefore, i.e., since our fight is so unequal, being against evil spiritual forces and powers, the Apostle urges that we take up “the armor of God,” i.e., that we make use of grace and the spiritual resources at our disposal, so as to be “able to resist in the evil day,” i.e., at the time and moment of temptation and hostile attack, with the result that when the struggle passes we may be able “to stand in all things perfect,” i.e., firm and immovable in grace and virtue, ready for the next attack.

Eph 6:14. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice,

The Apostle now begins to describe the various parts of the Christian soldier’s equipment, and his imagery is drawn partly from the dress of the Roman soldiers who in turn had charge of him in prison, and partly from two passages in Isaias where the Messiah is described as a warrior (Isa. 11:4, 49:17). He speaks first (Eph 6:14-17) of defensive and then of offensive arms, giving a spiritual meaning to each of the arms and each article of dress of the Roman soldier. The Christian soldier must “stand” (i.e., be ready for the conflict), having “truth” (i.e., sincerity and moral rectitude) for belt, and “justice” (i.e., loyalty in word and action to the law of God) as breastplate; for shoes he must have readiness and alacrity of soul to affirm “the gospel of peace”; “faith” must be his shield, and the inspired “word of God” his sword.

Eph 6:15. And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace:

Preparation. The Greek for this word occurs here only in the New Testament, and it most probably means readiness and alacrity of soul to preach the Gospel. Spiritual equipment gives the meaning of the term as well as anything. St. Chrysostom says: “The preparation of the gospel is nothing else than the best life.”

Eph 6:16. In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

In all things, etc. A lesser reading has “above all things, etc.,” which would mean that, besides all that has been just said, we should take the shield of faith, etc. But “in all things, etc.” is the better reading; and it means that in all the circumstances of our life of warfare faith is our shield, the heavy armor of our souls, by which we can ward off “the fiery darts of the wicked one,” i.e., of Satan.

Eph 6:17. And take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God).

“The helmet of salvation” means our salvation, the salvation offered us by Christ (Cajetan), or the hope of salvation (1 Thess. 5:8). The helmet protects the head, and the salvation offered us by our Lord is the pledge of our eternal inheritance. The “sword of the Spirit” is “the word of God,” i.e., the utterance of
God; the two phrases are in apposition here, and they explain each other: “The word of God is living and effectual, and more piercing than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12).

Eph 6:18. By all prayer and supplication, praying at all times in the spirit, and in the same watching with all instance and supplication for all the saints:

Here the Apostle admonishes that we must pray at all times, in all places, and for all persons, as a means of making really effectual the foregoing helps in the battle for salvation. All our help comes from God, and prayer opens the door to God’s treasure-house of graces.

Prayer and supplication are perhaps used together here for the sake of emphasis, though the former word can be distinguished from the latter as meaning a general offering of our thoughts and desires, while the latter has reference to our special petitions.

The Spirit. Literally, “in spirit,” i.e., in the fervor of our souls as animated and inspired by the Spirit of God.

For all the saints, as all are members of the same mystical body whose head is Christ.

Eph 6:19. And for me, that speech may be given me, that I may open my mouth with confidence, to make known the mystery of the gospel.
Eph 6:20. For which I am an ambassador in a chain, so that therein I may be bold to speak according as I ought.

The Apostle now asks a part in the prayers of his readers that he may be able courageously and efficaciously to preach “the mystery of the gospel,” i.e., the perfect equality of Jews and Gentiles in the Messianic kingdom, the universality of the salvation of Christ. It was for preaching this equal salvation for all men in Christ that the Apostle was cast into prison ; and this made him, though a prisoner, the representative of Christ the King in the imperial city, “an ambassador in a chain,” i.e., coupled by a chain around his right wrist to the left of a Roman soldier in his hired lodging in Rome.




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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Ephesians 6:10-20

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 18, 2014

Eph 6:10 Finally, brethren, be strengthened in the Lord and in the might of his power.

Finally, brethren, assume courage, relying on the Lord, who is your captain in the warfare in which you are continually engaged, and on the might of his strength.

“Finally, brethren.” (in the common Greek, my brethren). The pronoun is wanting in many manuscripts, and the words, “my brethren,” are not found at all in the Codex Vaticanus. After having laid down the rule of conduct to be followed by the Ephesians in the several relations of life, the Apostle concludes the Epistle by a general exhortation to fight manfully in the struggle wherein they are continually engaged against the enemies of salvation. For a soldier, two things are indispensable to secure success, viz., courage and arms. In this verse, he tells them to assume courage, relying on the Lord, &c.

Eph 6:11 Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil.

And put on the panoply, and complete armour of God, that you may be able to stand against and frustrate the insidious attacks of the devil.

“The armour of God.” In the Greek it is, την πανοπλιαν, the panoply, or complete suit of armour. “The deceits of the devil.” By the “devil,” some understand, adversary. From the following verse it is clear, however, that the word refers to the spirit of darkness, to that infernal adversary, who goes about like a roaring lion, seeking for his prey.—(1 Peter, 5:8).

Eph 6:12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.

For our wrestling is not merely against weak men, composed of flesh and blood like ourselves? but against the evil spirits who fell from the orders of principalities and powers, and are themselves most powerful; against those spirits who exert their power in this lower darksome world—against wicked, cunning spirits, who dwell in the air, whence they descend to wage their fiendish war against us.

The reason why we should be thus securely clad in full and complete armour, is derived from the nature of the enemies whom we have to combat. For, our adversaries are “not flesh and blood,” i.e., men like ourselves, but “principalities and powers,” wicked spirits who fell from these, as well as from all the other orders of angels, and retained, even after their fall, the names of the respective orders, to which they belonged. Under “principalities and powers,” are included all the other orders of fallen spirits; but the Apostle expressly specifies “principalities and powers,” to give an idea of their very great power, and of the dominion which they exercise over sinners. It seems the more probable opinion, that angels fell from each of the nine orders of blessed Spirits at the instigation of Lucifer, their rebel chief, to whom Isaias alludes, under the figure of the haughty King of Babylon (14:12), and Ezechiel (28:17), under that of the King of Tyre. Dazzled with his own superior excellence, out of pride he aspired to be like unto God, and drew a great part of the heavenly host after him in his revolt.—(Apocal. 12:4). In an instant, they were hurled from their abode of bliss and condemned to hell.—(2 Peter, 2:4; Jude, v. 6). While some of these wicked spirits are confined to the abyss, others are permitted at large, till the last day.—(Luke, 8:31). Some of these dwell in the air, whence the descend to wage their fiendish war with mankind. St. Jerome assures us, in his commentary on this passage, that “it is the common opinion of all the learned, that the entire space or vacuum between heaven and earth is filled with these hostile powers.” The power of these fiends is very great, owing to the perfection of their nature. For, it is the common opinion, that they are not shorn of their innate natural strength by their fall, although restrained in its exercise; just as a sinner who falls from grace, still retains the strength of his nature. These spirits have exerted great powers in several instances by divine permission. They hurried the swine into the lake, killed the husbands of Sara, slew armies in one night, often stirred up tempests, and struck whole provinces with terror. We are told by Job, “there is no power on earth which can be compared with him who was made to fear no one.”—(12:24). God sometimes permits these wicked spirits to exert their innate strength on natural agents through secondary causes, in causing diseases among men, in raising storms, and producing other physical evils in this world. Such effects are sometimes ascribed to the wicked spirits in SS. Scripture (vide Calmet sur les Mauvais Anges.) The power of the devil is greatly restricted since the coming of Christ.—(Apoc. 20:2, 3). But, sometimes, he is permitted, even now, to exert his malice against man. To counteract the exercise of his power, we have the exorcisms and prayers of the Church—(See Butler’s Lives of Saints, October 2nd.) Such are the enemies we have to encounter, in our warfare here below. How powerful! Although the flesh and the world tempt us as well as the demon; still, he is the principal enemy, and the others he uses as instruments. “Against the rulers of the world of this darkness.” This more probably refers to the power which the demons exercise in this lower material world, by making use of creatures to tempt man and injure him. This innate power of the fallen angels is, however, restricted in its exercise, and dependent on the permission of God. He says “of this darkness,” to confine this power to the lower world, lest it be imagined they were rulers of the entire universe. Others understand the words to refer to the spiritual dominion which the demons exercise over infidels, idolaters, and all others who maintain vice and ignorance, and oppose the truth. “Against spirits of wickedness,” i.e., wicked, cunning spirits. The Greek, προς τὰ πνευματικα τῆς πονηρίας, literally is, against the spiritual things of wickedness. “In the high places.” The Greek, εν τοις επουρανιοις, literally means, in the heavenly places. Here, it means the higher regions of the atmosphere.

Eph 6:13 Therefore, take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day and to stand in all things perfect.

Having, therefore, such adversaries to combat, take unto you the full and complete armour of God, in order that you may be able to resist in the day of peril and temptation, so that, having been perfectly equipped, and furnished with armour in every respect, you may be able to stand your ground, and conquer your enemies.

“And to stand in all things perfect,” i.e., fully armed and equipped for battle. The Greek will also bear another meaning, giving the word “perfect” an active signification, thus: after having perfected or accomplished all the duties of a soldier, or, after having vanquished all your enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil, ἅπαντα κατεργασάμενοι (omnia perficientes), you may be able to hold out and enjoy your victory, δυληθῆτε στῆναι. This interpretation gives the word “perfect” an active signification. The Vulgate reading is, however, preferable.

Eph 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth and having on the breastplate of justice:

Stand, therefore, in battle, having your loins girt with truth for a belt, and with justice, for a breastplate.

“Stand therefore.” The first part of military training is to stand to their arms. “Having your loins girt with truth,” as a belt. The first part of the Christian panoply is the belt, which is “truth,” i.e., sincerity and fidelity in fulfilling one’s words and promises. In which sense it is said of our Redeemer, “erit fides (i.e., fidelitas), cinctorium lumborum ejus.” The next is the “breastplate,” which is “justice,” i.e., the general virtue or practice of universal holiness. For, as the breastplate defends the principal and vital parts of man, so shall the general practice of holiness preserve the soul and conscience of a Christian against sin, the arms which the devil uses in the warfare.

Eph 6:15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.

And let your shoes or boots be a prompt alacrity and ready willingness to follow at any risk the way of the gospel—the message of peace from heaven to earth—and announce it to heretics and infidels.

The shoes are the next part of the armour, which signify the prompt alacrity to walk in the way of the gospel, and to proclaim the message of peace contained in it to heretics and infidels, and to defend it against all attacks. This alacrity and promptitude to practise the precepts of the gospel, and announce it to others, is properly compared to boots, because the fervent are prepared for all difficulties, as those who are shod are prepared for the most arduous journeys and paths.

Eph 6:16 In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one.

In all temptations, taking the shield of faith, whereby you may be enabled to repel and extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked and most subtle enemy.

“In all things,” by which some understand, “above or before all things.” The exposition in Paraphrase is preferable. “Extinguish the fiery darts,” &c. In these words, allusion is made to a most destructive species of warfare anciently resorted to, viz., that of shooting arrows to which was attached combustible matter for the purpose of firing the tents, &c., of the enemy. Reference is made to them in Herodotus and Thucydides. The best mode of neutralizing their effects was to extinguish these arrows, which was done most effectually, by opposing to them some hard matter, such as shields. In the spiritual combat, such “fiery darts” mean fierce, violent temptations. The most effectual way of extinguishing these temptations of the devil and the flesh, is by opposing to them the “shield of faith,” i.e., the consideration of the truths of faith above all, of the four last things, and of the menaces, the punishments, and rewards which they point out to us.

Eph 6:17 And take unto you the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God).

And take unto you for helmet, the hope of salvation; and take for sword, supplied you by the Holy Ghost, the truths revealed by God, and firmly believed by faith.

The next part of the panoply is, the helmet, by which is meant “salvation,” or, as it is more clearly expressed (Thessalonians, 5:8), “the hope of salvation.” Because as the helmet protects the head, so does the hope of future rewards direct to good our thoughts and our intentions, which are the heads of our actions. “And the sword of the spirit,” &c. The only offensive weapon mentioned is “the sword,” by which is meant “the word of God,” i.e., the revealed truths of faith, whether known from Scripture or Tradition; for the knowledge of the truths of faith, the rewards and punishments of a future life, will make the Christian soldier more vigilant not to be taken by surprise; more resolute and determined to battle manfully and perseveringly against the enemy. Or, according to others, the revealed word of God will supply the Christian soldier with ample means of refuting the gainsayer, whether infidel or heretic. The former meaning is preferable, because the enemies in the combat are the spirits of wickedness.

Eph 6:18 By all prayer and supplication praying at all times in the spirit: and in the same watching with all instance and supplication for all the saints:

Thus armed, you must expect victory from God alone, continually imploring him fervently from your heart and soul by all prayer and supplication; and for this purpose, watching with perseverance, and praying not only for yourselves, but also for all Christians.

But no matter how well they may be armed, the victory must come from above, and be obtained by fervent prayer. This victory is to come from God; without the aid of his all-powerful grace, they are sure to fall a prey to their spiritual enemies: and prayer, presented with the proper dispositions, is an indispensable means for obtaining the graces, the spiritual aids and helps so necessary to achieve this victory. “Ask and you shall receive;” hence, if we ask not, we shall not receive. “By all prayer and supplication” probably signify the same thing; they denote earnestness in prayer, “praying at all times in the spirit,” as the enemy is exceedingly malicious and crafty, and in all places, at all times, and by all means, seeks to destroy us; so we must pray for aid against his assaults, at all times, in all places, and with all possible fervour. “In the same watching.” In the Greek, εἰς αὐτο αγρυπνουντες, “watching thereunto,” i.e., for the same purpose; or, in order to pray fervently on all occasions, we must be constantly on the watch and pray for all Christians.

Eph 6:19 And for me, that speech may be given me, that I may open my mouth with confidence, to make known the mystery of the gospel,

And for me in particular, that whenever I open my mouth to announce the gospel, words may be supplied to me whereby I may freely and intrepidly proclaim the mystery of the gospel.

“May open my mouth,” i.e., whenever I open my mouth to preach, words may be given me, &c. “The mystery of the Gospel,” i.e., the Gospel which is a mystery concealed for ages from the world, at least, so far as the vocation of the Gentiles is concerned. Hence, the efficacy of the prayers of the saints. If St. Paul sets such value on the prayers of the saints on earth, how can we for an instant deny the efficacy of their prayers, when nearer to God? And if the prayers on earth are not injurious to the merits of Christ, how can their prayers in heaven detract from the same merits? Hence, we should pray for the prelates of the Church, that they may discharge their exalted functions, so as to advance the glory of God, and the salvation of souls, the price of the blood of a God, for every one of whom these prelates shall, one day, render an account, “judicium durissimum his qui præsunt.”

Eph 6:20 For which I am an ambassador in a chain: so that therein I may be bold to speak according as I ought.

On account of which gospel I am now discharging the office of Apostolic ambassador, even in chains; pray, therefore, for me, that I may be endowed with courage to announce it with proper firmness and intrepidity.

Fr. MacEvilly provides no comment on this verse beyond the interpretive paraphrase.



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Father Callan’s Commentary on Ephesians 6:1-9

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 18, 2014

This post opens with Fr. Callan’s brief summary of Ephesians 6:1-9, followed by his notes on the text.

A Summary of Ephesians 6:1-9

In these verses the Apostle continues his instruction on Christian submission, begun at Eph 5:21. Having spoken of the mutual duties of husbands and wives, he now goes on to consider those of children and parents (Eph 6:1-4), and of servants and masters (Eph 6:5-9).

Children must obey their parents (Eph 6:1-3), and parents must lovingly instruct their children in the discipline of the Lord (Eph 6:4). Similarly, let servants be obedient to their masters as to Christ, remembering that they will receive a reward from God (Eph 6:5-8); and, on the other hand, let masters be kind to their servants, reflecting that they themselves are servants of Christ, and that there is in heaven one Lord of all who will judge all in justice and equity (ver. 9).

Eph 6:1. Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is just.

Obey your parents, etc. The Apostle is speaking to Christian children and parents, but of course his words have a wider application.

In the Lord. These words restrict the obedience of the children and the commands of the parents to things in harmony with the law of God, and they also indicate that the obedience of children should be prompted by a supernatural motive. From this we may infer the practice of infant baptism in the Apostolic Church, because the Apostle seems to take it as understood that the children of Christian parents were already baptized, therefore “in the Lord.” The supreme example and model of such obedience was given by our Lord Himself (Luke 2:51): “For this is just,” i.e., dictated by nature and in conformity with the divine commands.

Eph 5:2. Honor thy father and thy mother, which is the first commandment with a promise:

The first part of this verse and verse 3 are from Ex 20:12, and Deut. 5:16, verbatim according to the LXX.

Which is the first, etc., i.e., (a) the first in the Second Table of the Law, for the First Table contains the commandments that pertain to God, the Second those that pertain to men (Ambrosiaster); or (b) the first in dignity or the principal commandment, having a promise annexed, which is immediately given. This is the principal commandment for children, as comprehending the rest (Voste). The clause, therefore, simply means: this is the principal commandment for you children, and it has a promise attached to it, as you can see from the words that follow.

Eph 6:3. That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest he long-lived upon earth.

These words of the Old Law refer directly to the promised land of Palestine, but indirectly to heaven, of which Palestine was a figure. It is to be observed regarding this promise that, since our earthly life is subordinated to the good of life eternal, even obedient children are sometimes taken away by premature death lest they should be contaminated by a wicked world (Wis. 4:10-11), while bad children not infrequently enjoy length of days in order that they may turn from an evil life and be saved.

Eph 6:4. And you, fathers, provoke not your children to anger; but bring them up in the disciphne and correction of the Lord.

And you, fathers, etc. The “you” here and in ver. 9 (Vulgate, vos) is not expressed in the Greek. The father is mentioned as head of the family, but the mother’s authority is included with that of the father because of the oneness of husband and wife, as explained above. The Apostle means to say that, while children should be obedient to parents, the latter ought to show themselves worthy of obedience, not by rigorous domination but by just and gentle persuasion. And this applies to all superiors, who should be guided in the control of others by justice and charity, instead of being blinded by authority, which they at times unjustly exercise,ignorant or forgetful of this full-meaning verse of St. Paul.

The discipline, etc., refers to moral formation in general according to the will of Christ, and not according to one’s own ideas, regardless of the expressed divine will. Parents are stewards of Christ as regards their children, and therefore are seriously bound to exercise in this capacity a faithful stewardship by word and example. See Col. 3:20-21 for a parallel passage.

Eph 6:5. Servants, be obedient to them that are your lords according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the simplicity of your heart, as to Christ:
Eph 6:6. Not serving to the eye, as it were pleasing men, but, as the servants of
Christ doing the will of God from the heart,
Eph 6:7. With a good will serving, as to the Lord, and not to men.
Eph 6:8. Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man shall do, the same shall
he receive from the Lord, whether he be bond, or free.

In these verses St. Paul is admonishing “servants” (literally, “slaves”) to render to their human masters a conscientious and respectful service which has its motive, not in personal or outward advantage, but in a sincere desire to please their spiritual Lord and Master, Christ, to whom their earthly lords are subordinated; and which further looks forward with the eyes of faith to the heavenly reward which Christ, the supreme Master and just Judge of us all, will render to each one, “whether he be bond, or free.”

Eph 6:9. And you, masters, do the same things to them, forbearing threatenings, knowing that the Lord both of them and you is in heaven; and there is no respect of persons with him.

The Apostle now admonishes masters to be animated by the same supernatural motives toward their servants, seeing in them the person of Christ and being kind and merciful to them, mindful at all times that there is in heaven one Judge of all, slaves and masters, Jesus Christ, who cares nothing for the titles and positions of men, but will reward or punish according to the works each one has done while in the flesh: we are all slaves of Christ, our common divine Master, and all must appear before His judgment seat.

In this section, verses 5-9, it is worthy of note that St. Paul is not speaking of the rights of slaves and masters respectively, but of the obligations incumbent on each class of doing their respective duties, one to the other: it is duties, not rights, that the Apostle is emphasizing. For parallel passages see Col. 3:22—4:1; 1 Cor. 7:20-24.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Ephesians 6:1-9

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 18, 2014

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief analysis of Ephesians chapter 6 as a whole. This is followed by the commentary on today’s first reading (Eph 6:1-9). Text in purple indicates MacEvilly’s paraphrasing of the verses he is commenting on. Text in red, if any, are my additions.

Eph 6:CHILDREN, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is just.

Children obey your parents, as far as the law of God permits, that is to say, in all things not opposed to the will of God; for, this precept is grounded on the law of natural justice and equity.

“In the Lord.” Some Expositors join these words with “parents,” as if he said, “obey your Christian parents;” but, this is an erroneous construction. The words are to be understood as in Paraphrase; or thus—on account of the love and reverence you owe the Lord, whom you should regard in your parents. “For, this is just.” This precept of obeying their parents is founded on natural justice and equity.

Eph 6:2 Honour thy father and thy mother, which is the first commandment with a promise:

There is also a divine positive law to the same effect; for, the precept, “honour thy father and thy mother,” is the first to which a special promise is attached, viz.:—

There is also a divine positive precept commanding the same. It is likewise the first of the commandments to which is attached a special promise, viz., length of days, and happiness even in this life. The wisdom of this promise will appear clear, if it be borne in mind, that the precept is imposed on young persons not fully capable of appreciating heavenly and eternal things, Hence, the promise involves what every one naturally desires, the moment he arrives at the use of reason, viz., a long and happy life even in this world.

Eph 6:3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest be long lived upon earth.

That thou mayest enjoy a long and happy life on this earth.

“That it may be well,” &c. This is the special reward promised to dutiful children; and although we frequently see the best and most dutiful children hurried away prematurely to an untimely grave; we are not, still, to imagine that God is unmindful of his promise, since if he gives not specifically the thing promised, he gives something infinitely better and eminently containing it, viz., a happy life of eternal glory. This promise of a long life is not of such an absolute nature as that God is bound by it to grant a long life in this world to dutiful children; it only warrants such children to hope for a long and happy life, “that thou mayest be long-lived,” &c.

Eph 6:4 And you, fathers, provoke not your children to anger: but bring them up in the discipline and correction of the Lord.

And you, parents, on the other hand, avoid provoking your children to anger, by undue or untimely severity; but take care to educate them in wholesome instruction, administering also the mild, moderate correction, which the law of God prescribes as just and salutary.

Parents, on the other hand, should not treat their children in a brutal or tyrannical manner, nor act as cruel task-masters in their regard; they should, rather, “bring them up in discipline,” by instructing them in the proper motives for practising one thing and avoiding the other. “And correction of the Lord;” they should not fail to correct and chastise them, when necessary in a spirit of parental fondness and charity, conformably to the doctrine of our Lord.

Eph 6:5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your lords according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the simplicity of your heart, as to Christ.

Servants obey your earthly masters, who have dominion over your bodies, with great diligence, reverencing them interiorly, and manifesting that reverence exteriorly, obeying them with sincere and good faith, as if you were obeying Christ.

The next class whom he instructs in their respective duties of obedience on the one hand, and of kindness and forbearance on the other, are masters and servants, or rather, slaves; for, he refers to the class of persons engaged in the hardships of servitude. Without entering on the question respecting the lawfulness or unlawfulness of slavery, the Apostle, in a spirit of heavenly wisdom, points out the duties which master and slaves owe each other, so long as the relations of master and slave may subsist between them. The slave should obey his earthly master, with great diligence. “Fear and trembling” convey that they should serve with great diligence and care, accompanied with interior and exterior reverence. “In the simplicity of your heart, as to Christ,” i.e., serving them with good faith and uprightness, as if they were obeying Christ himself.—(See 1 Corinthians, 7:20–24).

Eph 6:6 Not serving to the eye, as it were pleasing men: but, as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.

Not only in their presence, when their eyes are upon you, as is done by those who have only in view to please men, but like persons enlisted in the service of Christ, performing with cheerfulness the duties which the will of God has marked out for you.

“Not serving to the eye,” i.e., not merely acting with a view to please your masters when present, and when their eyes are upon you, “as it were pleasing men,” as those do whose only object is to please men; “but as the servants of Christ,” &c. but acting as men who are engaged in the service of Christ, whom your earthly master represent, and whose all-seeing eye is ever fixed upon you.

Eph 6:7 With a good will serving, as to the Lord, and not to men.

Serving your masters with sincere feelings of benevolence, as if it were the Lord, and not men, you were serving.

“With a good will serving,” i.e., while engaged in their service, entertaining for them feelings of benevolence, and sincerely anxious to promote their interests, “as to the Lord,” &c., as if you were serving Christ, who will one day reward you.

Eph 6:8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man shall do, the same shall he receive from the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

Knowing from the principles of our holy faith, that it is according to their good works God will reward all his creatures, no matter what their condition, be they slaves or free.

“Knowing that whatsoever good,” &c. Knowing, that in bestowing his rewards, God will recompense each person acccording to the good he shall have performed, without minding what his condition may be, whether in a state of freedom or servitude. What an important lesson is here conveyed by the Apostle to all who are placed under the direction of superiors! They should look upon them as holding the place of God in their regard, and should do nothing from the sole motive of pleasing them only, but they should do all for God—“maledictus omnis qui confidit in homine,” “cursed be the man that trusteth in man.”—(Jeremiah, 17:5).

Eph 6:9 And you, masters, do the same things to them, forbearing threatenings: knowing that the Lord both of them and you is in heaven. And there is no respect of persons with him.

And do you, masters, manifest in a corresponding degree the same feelings of fidelity and benevolence towards your servants which have been inculcated on them towards you, remitting the punishment with which you menaced them, and which you are empowered by law to inflict, knowing that you, too, have a master in heaven, from whom you expect forgiveness, and with whom there is no exception of persons.

In this verse the Apostle inculcates the duties which the masters owe their slaves. They should manifest in a corresponding degree, and as far as the relations of masters demand, the same feelings of fidelity and kindness, &c.

“Forbearing threatenings:” These words, besides the interpretation given in Paraphrase, may also mean, ceasing from all threatening or menacing conduct; treating them in a humane, kind and benevolent manner. The interpretation in the Paraphrase appears the more probable, if we look to the following words: “knowing that the Lord both of them and you is in heaven.” For which we have, in the common Greek text, knowing that your master also is in heaven, whose forgiveness you stand in need of; and hence, you should forgive the offences committed against you (as in Paraphrase). The chief MSS. support the Vulgate, εἰδότες ὅτι και αὐτῶν και ὑμῶν ὁ κυριος εστιν ἐν οὐρανοις (eidotes oti kai auton kai hymon ho kyrios estin en ouranois).

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Ephesians 4:31-5:8

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 18, 2014

In order to help provide context his post begins with Fr. Callan’s brief overview of Ephesians 4:25-6:9. This will be followed by a summary of Eph 5:1-21. The comments on 4:31-5:8 then follow.

EPHESIANS 4:25-6:9

Eph 4:25-6:9. The Apostle is now going to show In a practical way just what it means for Christians to have put on the new man that is, he is going to apply more in detail to Christian life and conduct the principles he has laid down. He will treat first of precepts that are pertinent to all Christians, to Christian society in general (Eph 4:25—5:21), and then of precepts that regard particular members of the Christian family, that regulate the Christian home (Eph 5:22—6:9). In the remaining verses of the present Chapter (i.e., Eph 4:25-32) he speaks of some of the principal vices which the mutual charity of Christians forbids, and of some of the virtues which that same charity enjoins upon the members of the Church.


Eph 5:1-21. This Chapter continues the thought of the preceding Chapter, and Eph 5:1-21-2 here really belong at the end of Chapter 4, with which they are so intimately connected (specifically with Eph 4:17-32). The Apostle has just been saying that his readers, in forgiving one another, should imitate God who has pardoned them for the sake of Christ; and now he continues that thought, and makes the further plea that in their relations with one another they should imitate the charity of Christ who gave Himself as a sacrifice to God for us all.

Eph 5:1-21 here, apparently having in view pagan pleasures and festivities, contain five commands mainly for self-guidance regarding Christian love, light, wisdom, gladness and submission, as Eph 4:25-32, contained five prohibitions regarding others.

Eph 4:32. And be ye kind one to another; merciful, forgiving one another, even as God hath forgiven you in Christ.

The Apostle has just given some of the sins by which charity is wounded (Eph 4:25-32); so now he will mention some of the opposite virtues by which charity is preserved and exercised, adding the motive for the practice of these virtues. He would have his readers be “kind” (i.e., sweet and courteous to one another), “merciful” (i.e., tenderhearted), “forgiving” (i.e., ready to pardon one another’s offences), and all this because “God hath forgiven” (or better, “did forgive”) them at the time of their conversion, “in Christ” (i.e., through the merits of Christ). See parallel passage in Col. 3:12-13.

Eph 5:1. Be ye therefore followers of God, as most dear children;

God is our Father and we are His adopted children, and so we ought to imitate Him in forgiving others as He has forgiven us; the more we imitate our Father, the more we become like Him, and consequently the more we are loved by Him.

Therefore connects this verse with the preceding Chapter.

Eph 5:2. And walk in love, as Christ also loved us, and delivered himself for us, an oblation and a sacrifice to God for an odor of sweetness.

The example of our Lord is now given as a motive for the exercise of fraternal charity.

Walk in love, i.e., let charity be the animating and governing principle of your lives, after the example of Christ who out of love for us delivered Himself up to the death of the cross for our salvation.

Loved us. The versions read thus, but a number of Greek MSS. have: “Loved you.”

An oblation and a sacrifice. The first word is more general, the second more particular in meaning. The term “sacrifice” can also stand for a bloody or an unbloody offering, and certainly the former is not to be excluded here where the sacrifice of our Lord is in question. The purpose of St. Paul here is to show the completeness of our Lord’s sacrifice, as being the antitype of both the bloody and the unbloody sacrifice. Very probably the Apostle is alluding in this passage to Ps.40:7, which is Messianic, and which is explicitly cited in Heb. 10:5.

An odor of sweetness is a sacrificial phrase taken from the Old Testament (Gen. 8:21 ; Lev. 1:9, 13, 17, etc.), and it simply means that the sacrifice was pleasing and acceptable to God.

Eph 5:3. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not so much as be named among you, as becometh saints:

From the sublime thoughts just enunciated the Apostle now descends to practical matters, and in verses 3-14 warns his readers against sins of the flesh and works of darkness, so characteristic of the pagan world. He has just been speaking of Christian love in a positive way, and now he will speak of it negatively, by forbidding sinful love, whether sensual or avaricious. Impurity and grasping self-assertion were central sins of paganism, and they are condemned by the Apostle in all their forms; not only are they not to be practised, they are not even to be named among Christians, who by their profession are consecrated to the God of holiness, purity, and justice.

Eph 5:4. Or obscenity, or foolish talking, or scurrility, which is to no purpose; but rather giving of thanks.

Likewise the “saints” are to avoid all obscene and filthy language, all foolish talk about immoral things, all jesting in the sense of depraved pleasantry, which serves no good purpose and is unbecoming; on the contrary, the mouths and tongues of Christians should be filled with the praises of their Creator and Redeemer, in thanksgiving for all His benefits.

Eph 5:5. For know you this and understand, that no fornicator, or unclean, or covetous person (which is a serving of idols), hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

For know you this, etc., is according to the best Greek reading here, which may be translated as imperative or indicative. The Apostle is going to speak of something his readers know very well.

Fornicator, as here used, means also adultery and every illicit sexual union.

Unclean refers to private impurity.

Covetous person, i.e., inordinate lover of material wealth, a person who makes a god of his money.

Which is a serving of idols. There are other Greek readings of this clause, but that followed by the Vulgate is the most probable. Covetousness is a kind of real idolatry.

Hath inheritance, etc. Since the foregoing sinners serve illicit and perishable things in preference to the true God, they must perish with them, instead of sharing in the rewards of the elect of heaven.

Eph 5:6. Let no man deceive you with vain words. For because of these things cometh the anger of God upon the children of unbelief.

The Apostle warns his readers not to be deceived and led into error by any “vain” (i.e., empty and false) words or talk, regarding the sins he has just condemned; for because of those very sins the punishment of God “cometh,” i.e., visits now and will continue to visit in the future those rebellious ones who disobey and disregard His teachings as contained in the Gospel. Cf, Col. 3:6.

Eph 5:7. Be ye not therefore partakers with them.

Be not. Literally, “Become not,” sharers in their sins, else you will be sharers in their punishment

Eph 5:8. For you were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord. Walk then as children of the light.

The Apostle now gives other reasons to show why the faithful ought to avoid the sins mentioned above. Before their conversion they were “darkness,” i.e., the very embodiment of moral ignorance and corruption; but now as Christians they embody “light,” possessing the truth of Him and living in union with Him who said: “I am the light of the world, etc.” (John 8:12 ff.). Their lives,
therefore, ought to be in conformity with the knowledge and grace they have received. This and the two following verses constitute a parenthesis in which the Apostle is again contrasting (as in Eph2:11-22 and Eph 4:17-24) the new condition of his readers with their old condition,

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