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Commentary on Ephesians 2:1-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 22, 2018

THE POWER OF GOD IS MANIFESTED IN THE NEW LIFE GIVEN TO CHRISTIANS
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 2:1. And you, when you were dead in your offences, and sins,

And you. The connection with what precedes is clear; the thought goes back to Eph 1:20, and is as follows: As God gave new life to Christ Jesus, raising Him from the dead, so has He also given new life to you, raising you from the death of sin to a life of grace. The phrases are suspended here, having their subject (“God”) in verse 4 and their verb (“quickened”) in verse 5, This suspended construction is characteristic of St, Paul’s nervous and vehement style.

When you were dead, etc., i.e., spiritually dead, bereft of the principle of supernatural Ufe, which is the Holy Ghost dwelling by grace in the soul.

Eph 2:2. 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:

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 10:18); 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 2:3. In which also we all conversed in time past, in the desires of our flesh, fulfilling the will of the flesh and of our thoughts, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest:

In which. This can refer to the “sins” and “offences” of verse 1, or to the “children of unbelief” of verse 2. If taken in the latter connection, we should render “among whom,”

Also we all, i.e., the Jews, as well as the Gentiles.

Conversed, etc., i.e., lived and acted before they embraced Christianity. St. Paul is referring to the general unfaithfulness of the Jews, in spite of their many privileges and graces (Rom. 3:9); he is not, of course, including faithful individual souls like the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph, the Prophets, etc. But the Jews as a class, he says, like the Gentiles, lived according to the evil inclinations of their lower nature and the perverse counsels of the mind of the natural man, disregarding the will of God and the dictates of an enlightened conscience. As a result, they were “by nature children of wrath,” i.e., by reason of the corrupt nature they had inherited from Adam, which inclined them to the actual sins of which they were personally guilty, they had become objects of God’s great displeasure, “even as the rest” (i.e., like the pagans). We are said to incur God’s wrath when by willful transgression we put ourselves in opposition to His will; the change is not in the unchangeable God, but in us.

It is disputed whether “nature” here is to be understood of original sin, or of actual sins of which the Apostle has just been speaking, or of both taken into the one account. St. Augustine took the phrase to mean original sin, and this is the common opinion. But Dr. Voste thinks there is question here only of actual sins, since the Apostle is speaking of sins in which the Gentiles “walked,” and in which the Jews “conversed” in times past—therefore, of sins which both the Gentiles and the Jews had themselves committed. The Jews and the Gentiles are both put in the same class here as regards their sins, but that could not be with regard to original sin, since the former, unlike the latter, were purified from it by circumcision before their conversion to Christianity. Of course, the innate proneness to evil in both classes and in all men is best explained by the doctrine of original sin.

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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Commentary on Ephesians 1:20-23

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 22, 2018

THE EXALTATION OF CHRIST
A Summary of Ephesians 1:20-23

Speaking of the infinite power of God manifested in the raising of Christ from the dead, the Apostle is, as it were, carried out of himself, and bursts forth into a sublime act of praise of the risen and glorified Saviour, sitting at the right hand of God in heaven, elevated above all angelic powers or dignities, with all things beneath His feet, being made the head of the Church, which is His mystical body. In these verses our Lord’s exaltation and supremacy are proclaimed, first over the universe (Eph 1:21–22a) and then over the Church (ver. Eph 1:22b-23).

Eph 1:20. Which he wrought in Christ, raising him up from the dead, and setting him on his right hand in the heavenly places,

Which he wrought. The reference is to the action of the Eternal Father in raising our Lord from the dead.

In Christ, i.e., in the person and instance of Christ.

And setting him. Better: “making him to sit.”

On his right hand, i.e., in the place of honor, sharing as the Incarnate Son the throne of the eternal Father, which as God He had never relinquished.

In the heavenly places, i.e., in a spiritual locality outside and above our world of sense. Our Lord’s glorified body is a real body, and therefore it requires a real place in which to dwell. See above on verse 3.

Eph 1:21. Above all principality, and power, and virtue, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.

Above all principality, etc. The Apostle here mentions four orders or classes or choirs of celestial beings above which Christ in heaven is said to be exalted (cf. 1 Peter 3:22, and below, Eph 3:10). In Col. 1:16, we have a parallel passage where St. Paul adds the order of “thrones,” but omits the order of “virtue” here mentioned. In that passage the thought is that Christ in His pre-existent glory and divinity is the Creator of those angelic beings; whereas here His Headship over them is the dominant thought. The division of angels into nine orders and three hierarchies is due to the Pseudo-Dionysius in his book On the Celestial Hierarchy, a notable work which first appeared about 500 a.d., but which from then on exercised a great influence till the close of the Middle Ages.

Every name, etc., is a Hebraism which signifies every creature whatsoever, which can exist “not only in this world” (i.e., in the time that precedes the Second Coming of Christ), “but also in that which is to come” (i.e., the eternal and heavenly duration that will follow the Second Advent): over all creatures, present or to come, Christ rules supreme (cf. Phil. 2:9-1 1 ; Col. 1:13).

Eph 1:22. And he hath subjected all things under his feet, and hath made him head over all the church,

And he hath subjected, etc. An allusion to Ps. 8:8, where man is described as the crown of the visible world (cf. 1 Cor. 15:26 ff.; Heb. 2:8 flf).
And hath made him head, etc. The Greek reads : “And gave him to the Church head over all.” The words “over all” show the dignity and excellence of Christ whom the eternal Father has given to the Church as its head. Our Lord made St. Peter the visible head of the Apostolic College and of the Church, but He Himself ever remains the supreme head, not only of the Church Militant, but likewise of the Church Suffering and the Church Triumphant.

Eph 1:23. Which is his body, and the fullness of him who is filled all in all.

But Jesus is the head of the Church, not merely because He governs it and has subjected all things to Himself, but also because it is His mystical body. The Church exists by virtue of Christ its head, and we its members live by His life. Hence, to injure unjustly the Church and its members is to injure Christ, as Jesus affirmed to Saul the persecutor: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me, etc.” (Acts 9:4 ff.). St. Paul frequently speaks of the Church as the mystical body of Christ (cf. Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:12 ff.; Eph. 4:12-16, 5:23, 30; Col. 1:18-19, 2:19).

The fullness of him, i.e., the totality or completion of Christ, or that which renders Christ complete. The Greek word πληρωμα (fullness) here is obscure and has received various explanations, the most probable of which we have just given in the preceding sentence. The Church is the body of Christ, and Christ is the head of the Church. From this union of head and body there results one whole, which is the mystical Christ. The Church, therefore, the body of Christ, completes Christ; or, to put it in another way, Christ, the head of the Church, is completed by the Church. In other words, as in the human body the members are the completion or complement of the head, since without them the head could not exercise the different actions, so the Church, which is the body of Christ, is the complement of Christ the head, because without it Christ would not be able to exercise His office of Redeemer and Sanctifier of souls.

Who is filled. Here again the meaning is very obscure. The verb to fill in the Greek of the present passage may be taken in the middle or in the passive voice. If we take it as a middle, the meaning would be that Christ for His own sake fills with all graces and blessings the members of the Church, His mystical body. If the verb be understood as a passive participle, the sense is that Christ, God Incarnate, is incomplete without the Church, as a head is necessarily incomplete without its body; and that, consequently, as the Church grows in holiness and progresses in the fulfillment of its divine mission, Christ, God Incarnate, is progressively completed.

All in all, i.e., all things in all ways. Cf. St. Thomas, hoc loco; Voste, op. cit., hoc loco; Prat, La Theol. de St. Paul, I, pp. 410 ff.

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Commentary on Ephesians 1:15-19

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 22, 2018

AN ACT OF THANKSGIVING AND A PRAYER THAT THE SAINTS MAY
UNDERSTAND THE BLESSINGS THEY ENJOY IN CHRIST
A Summary of Ephesians 1:15-19

Having considered the benefits which God from eternity has bestowed on the “Ephesians,” and also the privilege of their call to the Gospel in time, the Apostle now thanks God for the faith they have already received, and then goes on to pray for a further outpouring of the Spirit upon them, to the end that they may fully realize the divine prospects which are theirs, which God has in store for them, and which will be given them according to the measure of His omnipotent power displayed in the exaltation of Christ.

Eph 1:15. Wherefore I also, hearing of your faith which is in the Lord Jesus, and of your love towards all the saints,
Wherefore, i.e., because of the many divine benefits which have been described above, namely, our election, predestination, adoption, redemption, etc.

I also, hearing, etc., i.e., Paul, a prisoner in Rome, had heard of the faith among the “Ephesians.” This is taken as an argument that this letter was not addressed to the Christians of Ephesus, among whom Paul had lived so long and whose faith was known to him personally. But others say that the Apostle is here alluding to the increase and progress of their faith since he was with them.

Which is in the Lord Jesus, i.e., which reposes in Him and on Him as a basis and foundation; or, less likely, which is maintained in union with Him.

And your love, etc. The word “love” here is wanting in some good MSS., but it is found in other important ones and in all ancient versions, and is therefore to be retained as a parallel to “faith.” The faith of the saints issues in love toward the brethren who share that faith, that is, in a love of preference, one which favors the Christians, but does not exclude love towards all men (2 Peter 1:7).

Eph 1:16. Cease not to give thanks for you, making commemoration of you in my prayers;
Cease not, etc. This is a frequent phrase with St. Paul, especially at the beginning of his Epistles, and Egyptian papyri show that similar phrases were used in epistolary greetings in pre-Christian times; with St. Paul, however, such words have a spiritual meaning. The Apostle continually thanks God for the spiritual benefits conferred on the saints, and he prays that these blessings may be continued and extended.

Eph 1:17. That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and of revelation, in the knowledge of him:
In verses 17-19 we have the substance of St. Paul’s prayer. This is the Apostle’s first prayer in this letter; a second prayer occurs below in Eph 3:14-19, and a third in Eph 6:18-20,

That the God, etc. There should be no comma after Deus in the Vulgate here. The meaning of the passage is: The God whom our Lord Jesus Christ knew and manifested to the world (John 20:17; Matt, 27:46; cf. above, ver. 3). The Arians abused this text to prove that our Lord was not divine; and hence some of the Fathers interpreted the words “of our Lord Jesus Christ” as referring to the humanity of Christ.

The Father of glory, i.e., the author and source of all glory, who possesses in Himself the fullness of glory and diffuses it in the world outside the Godhead.

May give unto you the spirit, etc., not the Holy Spirit, but His gifts, especially that of heavenly wisdom which penetrates into the deep mysteries of God and ever reveals a fuller knowledge of the Father, the Divine Being, whom to know, together with the Son whom He has sent, is to know the secrets and the fullness of eternal life (John 17:3; Matt. 11:27).

Eph 1:18. The eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know what the hope is of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
Eph 1:19. And what is the exceeding greatness of his power towards us who believe, according to the operation of the might of his power,

The eyes of your heart, etc., i.e., that the Father of glory may give you (v. 17) enlightened eyes, or enlightenment of eyes, so that you may thoroughly understand the following: (a) “what Is the hope of his calling,” i.e., what are the rewards to be hoped for by those whom God has called to Christianity; (b) “what are the riches of the glory, etc.,” i.e., what are the treasures of glory in heaven which God has prepared for Christians who, as children of God, have become heirs of celestial riches; (c) “what is the exceeding greatness of his power, etc.,” i.e., what is the infinite power of God which is able to confer on the saints all that God has promised them as a result of their Christian faith. Thus, the Apostle prays that his readers may grasp the hope of their calling, the object of their calling, and the infinite power by which God is able to fulfill His promises to the saints.

Heart, among the Semites and Hebrews, meant not only the seat of the affections, but of intelligence also.

What, i.e., the essence or quiddity. There Is good MSS. evidence for rejecting the “and” after “calling,” thus making “the hope of his calling” one question with “what are the riches of his glory,” instead of there being two questions involved in those two clauses.

The glory of his inheritance, i.e., the state of glory which Christ, the King of glory, has inherited and prepared in heaven for the saints (John 14:2 ff.).
In the saints. i.e., in the Christians who are saved: “The sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18).

Of his power, etc., exercised in our sanctification and glorification.

Who believe is in apposition with “us”; the phrase is not to be connected with the words that follow.

According to the operation, etc. These words go back to “the exceeding greatness of his power,” and the meaning Is: “according to the working of the strength of his power.”

Might of his power. This is an intensive phrase used to bring out the power of God working within us; nothing is impossible to that divine power which was able to raise Christ from the dead. God who calls us to the joys of the Infinite has infinite power to make effective that call. See parallel passages in Col. 1:27, and Rom. 9:23.

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Commentary on Ephesians 1:1-14

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 22, 2018

INSCRIPTION AND EPISTOLARY GREETING

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.

Eph 1:1. 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.

Eph 1:2. 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).

THE DOGMATIC PART OF THE EPISTLE

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 HYMN OF PRAISE TO GOD FOR THE BLESSINGS WE HAVE RECEIVED THROUGH CHRIST

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.

Eph 1:3. 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.

Eph 1:4. 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.

Eph 1:5. 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.” = By now it must be clear how divine predestination neither has nor can have any cause but the will of God alone. This, in turn, reveals how the only motive for God’s predestinating will is to communicate the divine goodness to others.

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).

Eph 1:6. 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.

Eph 1:7. 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).

Eph 1:8. 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.

Eph 1:9. 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).

Eph 1:10. 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.

Eph 1:11. In whom we also were called by lot, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things according to the counsel of his will;
In whom we also, etc. The et nos of the Vulgate is not represented in the Greek, and hence the we here is not emphatic; the Apostle is stressing not the persons that were called, but the fact of their call to the Gospel, both Jews and Gentiles.

By lot. The meaning of the Greek here is to obtain an inheritance, a portion, that is, to be made a part of God’s inheritance, portion, lot. The Greek verb used here to express this allotment is found nowhere else in the Greek Bible, but its meaning is clear from the noun κλῆρος, lot (cf. also Deut 32:9). The Church is the New Israel of God (Gal 6:16). The call to Christianity is gratuitous, altogether independent of our merits, and infallible; it is in no way fortuitous or due to chance. For we were “predestinated” to this admission into the New Israel of God “according to the purpose, etc.,” that is, according to the free and independent choice of the will of God. The Greek verb here used, worketh, (ενεργουντος), signifies the infallible efficacy of the divine action in moving all things to their respective operations and ends.

The counsel, etc. In Greek βουλην includes the deliberation of the reason, whereas θέλημα (will) means native, active inclination. God’s will is eminently free, but by no means arbitrary; it acts according to “counsel.”

Eph 1:12. That we may be unto the praise of his glory, we who before hoped in Christ:
That we might be, etc. The final reason why God chose, predestined, and called us is His own glory. The final reason for every action of God must be Himself, because, as being all-perfect, He can act only for the highest and most perfect end, and this obviously is Himself.

We who before, etc., i.e., we Jews. It is more probable that the Apostle is speaking in this verse, not of Christians in general who are living in the hope of Christ to come at the end of the world, but of the Jews to whom the Messianic promises were given. To the Jews, living in hope of the Messiah to come, was given the prerogative of being first admitted into the New Israel of God, the Church. We hold, then, that the reference in this verse is to Jewish believers as against Gentile believers. The former, as having inherited and cherished the hope of the Messiah to come before the Gentiles were aware of this blessing, have a sort of prior claim with respect to the Gospel.

Eph 1:13. In whom you also, after you had heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation); in whom also believing, you were signed with the holy Spirit of promise,

In whom you also, etc. Having spoken in the previous verse of the Jewish Christians, the Apostle now turns to the Gentile converts, who also have been called to share in the blessings of the Gospel. Most probably the verb “were called” (as in ver. 11) should be supplied to complete the first line of this present verse, thus: “In whom you also were called, etc.” Also the Gentiles have been called through Christ, they have had preached to them “the word of truth” (i.e., the Gospel), the purpose of which is their salvation; they have also believed in Christ and in the Gospel, and in consequence they have received the Holy Spirit, the Spirit promised by the Prophets and by Jesus as the seal and pledge of their divine filiation. This sign or seal is impressed on the soul in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. These two Sacraments, of Baptism and Confirmation, were usually conferred together in the early Church (cf. Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4 ff., Acts 2:16 ff.; John 1:32, John 6:27, etc.). Some authors take the second in quo (in whom) of this verse to refer to the Gospel rather than to Christ, but this does not change the meaning.

Eph 1:14. Who is the pledge of our inheritance, unto the redemption of acquisition, unto the praise of his glory.

Who is the pledge, etc. The Holy Ghost now given to Christians is the earnest, or first installment, or part-payment of the final and complete blessedness which will be theirs hereafter. The Greek word αρραβων, here translated pledge, is Semitic in origin and first meant something given as a guarantee of an agreement between two parties, but which was to be surrendered upon the fulfillment of the agreement. But by usage the word took on the meaning of an earnest, or a certain part of the whole that is to be paid in due time. This is the meaning of the word here.

Unto the redemption, etc., i.e., the Holy Ghost is now given the Christians as the first installment of their full and final emancipation as God’s people and possession, acquired by the blood of Christ. The saints are the property or possession of God, and they have already received a part or foretaste of their future inheritance; the Holy Ghost has been given “them as part-payment until the redemption is complete, that is, until our “acquisition,” or future possession, has been fully redeemed. “Charitas viae, quam hic habemus per infusum Spiritum Sanctum, eadem numero est ac charitas patriae, qua beati (misericordia Dei) possidebimus Deum in coelo” (St. Thomas, la IIæ, Q. 67, art. 6).

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Introduction to Ephesians

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 22, 2018

INTRODUCTION

1. Captivity Epistles. Four letters of St. Paul—those to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, to the Colossians, and to Philemon— are known as the Captivity Epistles, because the Apostle was a prisoner when he wrote them, most probably at Rome (61-63 a.d.), as mentioned in Acts 28:30. This opinion is according to a very ancient tradition which the contents of those Epistles support. First of all, there is a similarity of vocabulary and style in these four letters, and Philippians seems to point directly to Rome when St. Paul speaks of himself as a prisoner, of the number of local preachers, and of Caesar’s household (Phil. 1:7-17, 4: 22). Moreover, that these four letters emanated from the Eternal City and were written about the same time is further made very likely from the following: (a) Timothy is associated with St. Paul in writing to the Philippians, to the Colossians, and to Philemon; (b) Rome, the capital of the Empire, was the natural resort of the runaway slave from Colossse, Onesimus, whose meeting with St. Paul occasioned the letter to Philemon (Phlm. 10-12, 18); (c) in Ephesians 6:20, the Apostle calls himself an ambassador in chains, that is, a representative of Christ the King in the imperial city, but without honor; (d) he is free to preach and to receive all who come to him (Phlm. 7 ff., 24; Eph. 3:12, 6:19, 20; Phil. 1:12, 20 ff.; Acts 28:30, 31); (e) he expects an early release, and asks Philemon to make ready a lodging for him (Phil. 2:24; Phlm, 22); (f) Tychicus and Onesimus are together in bearing these three letters to Asia (Eph. 6:21 ; Col. 4:7-9; Phlm. 12, 22).

In view of these considerations there is nothing of moment to be said in favor of the opinion that the three letters last named were written during the Caesarean captivity (58-60 a.d.). The arguments just given favoring Rome would not fit Caesarea. Still less can be said in support of the opinion which makes Ephesus the place whence St. Paul wrote the Captivity Epistles (see Pope, Aids to the Study of the Bible, vol. III., p. 160).

As to the order of these four Epistles, it is evident from what has been said above that those to the Ephesians, the Colossians, and Philemon are not to be separated; but whether the Colossian Epistle preceded or followed the composition of that to the Ephesians cannot be determined with any degree of certainty, though it is clear that both were carried from Rome at the same time by Tychicus (Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7). Nor can it be decided whether the letter to the Philippians was the first or the last of these four Captivity Epistles.

With regard to their general contents Dr. Voste, O.P., very appropriately remarks that “there is nothing in the whole New Testament which so nearly approaches the doctrinal and mystical sublimity of the Fourth Gospel as do these Epistles. There is the same loftiness of dogmatic and ethical teaching, the same marvelous boldness of expressions, the same divine revelation of the union of the faithful with Christ or of the branches with the vine, and finally the same glorification of the love and person of Christ. John, the beloved disciple, has revealed to us the glory of the Word made flesh; Paul, rapt to the third heaven, has made known to us the glory of Christ exalted on high. And then, also, it was that the Apostle described this sublimity when, like the exile of Patmos, he was an ambassador in chains for Christ; when, like Stephen the First Martyr when being stoned to death, he saw the heavens opened and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Ep. ad Eph., Introd., pp. 6, 7).

The style and manner of treatment in these Captivity Epistles is very different from that in St. Paul’s previous letters—Romans, Corinthians, and Galatians. In those great Epistles the Apostle was at the height of his career; he was founding Churches; he was unfolding his great revelations; he was defending his authority and his teachings; he was in the thick of the battle. In these letters his work is mostly done; he is quietly surveying the fruits of his many labors, and is only anxious that they may be preserved. He is now reflective, meditative, and on the whole at peace in his mind.

His surroundings are also very different here. Formerly he was writing from Greek cities, with their individualistic outlook and cultured environment; but now he is writing from Rome, the centre of the great empire, with its worldwide outlook and its emphasis upon the family, the community, the state, and the race. Hence, Paul’s vision assumes a wider range here—especially in Ephesians, Colossians and Philippians—taking in the whole world and uniting all men of all time under the universal sovereignty of Christ. Christ, the King, and His universal Church are uppermost in the Apostle’s mind in these letters.

2. Ephesus. Situated on the great highway of trade between the East and the West, and under Roman rule the capital of Proconsular Asia, Ephesus was one of the most important cities of ancient times. It was to the province of Asia what Corinth was to Greece, what Antioch was to Syria, and what Alexandria was to Egypt. It was built on the Cayster River only about three miles inland from the Ægean Sea, and was the sea terminal of the great trade route which extended eastward, up the valley of the Maeander to that of the Lycus, and thence to central Asiatic and far eastern points. Miletus was indeed the natural terminus and seaport of the road which, from central Asia Minor and eastern lands, led down the valleys of the Lycus and the Maeander to the West, but the journey was shortened some thirty miles by a pass only six hundred feet high over the mountains from the Maeander to Ephesus. Moreover, during later centuries, and especially under the Romans, the silt carried down by the Maeander seems to have been permitted to spoil the harbor of Miletus, thus giving Ephesus undisputed supremacy as the seaport of Proconsular Asia until, in course of time, a similar fate befell the port of Ephesus through the alluvium which the Cayster deposited at its mouth. Even in St. Paul’s age the channel between Ephesus and the sea had to be cleaned out repeatedly, but later, after the sway of Rome had passed away, it was allowed to fill up and become a mere marsh, and the glory of Ephesus as a port and the great coastal terminal of trade from Central Asia and eastern countries ceased to exist and became a mere matter of the past.

In the days of its prosperity the trade and wealth of Ephesus were augmented also by the coast-line ships from north and south, and by the vast numbers of visitors who were passing from Rome to the East or from the Orient to the West, as well as those who came to the city to worship at the shrine of Diana, to enjoy the Roman festivals, and to assist at the public games and shows. For, as already said, Ephesus was the principal seaport of the Roman province of Asia and the roads from the interior all converged there, thus making it most easily accessible for land travelers. Just outside the city stood the marvelous Temple of Diana (Artemis), one of the seven wonders of the world, and on the western side of Mt. Coressus was the largest theatre of the Hellenic world, open to the sky, and capable of accommodating 50,000 spectators; while a little to the north was situated the Stadium or Race Course where the public games and fights were exhibited.

The road from Ephesus to the east up the valley of the Cayster was too steep and precipitous for commercial purposes, but, as it was considerably shorter than the lower and more level route down the valleys of the Lycus and the Masander, foot-passengers, like St. Paul, naturally preferred it. Hence, the Apostle going on foot from Pisidian Antioch to Ephesus would follow the higher, though steeper, Cayster route; and this is why he seems never to have visited Colossse and Laodicea, which were on the main highway of trade down the valleys of the Lycus and the Maeander.

3. The Church of Ephesus. Being so situated, the terminal of trade and travel from Asia and the East westward, and as the Asiatic port for commerce and travelers from the West to the East, Ephesus was naturally sought by St. Paul as a centre from which his preaching and missionary activities should radiate. Already at the outset of his second great journey (51 a.d.) he seems to have had Ephesus in mind as his goal, but being “forbidden by the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia” (Acts 16:6), he passed through Mysia over to Troas, and from there to Neapolis and Philippi, and then down through Macedonia and Greece (Acts 16:11-18:18). But at the close of that missionary journey, on his way from Greece to Syria, he paid a brief visit to Ephesus, leaving there, as he proceeded back to the East, Aquila and Priscilla whom he had brought thither, and promising to return later himself (Acts 18:18-21).

Accordingly, on his third missionary journey (55-58 A.D.), St. Paul, after visiting the Churches previously founded in Galatia, came directly to Ephesus by way of the “upper coasts,” that is, following the Cayster valley route (Acts 19:1). The seed planted there on his first brief visit and nourished to some extent by the efforts of Aquila and Priscilla, aided for a time by Apollo, had already produced a little fruit in the establishment of a small group of catechumens who had received only the baptism of John (Acts 19:1-3). These St. Paul at once instructed and baptised, imposing hands upon them and thus endowing them with the gifts of the Spirit (Acts 19:4-7). Then entering the synagogue where he had preached on his first visit to Ephesus, “he spoke boldly for the space of three months, disputing and exhorting concerning the Kingdom of God,” until, forced by the opposition of some of his Jewish hearers, he made “the school of one Tyrannus” his place of worship and instruction (Acts 19:8-9). In this new abode he continued his spiritual labors for two whole years, discoursing every day and proving by miracles the divinity of his doctrine and claims, with the grand result that great numbers embraced the faith in Ephesus, the magical practices in honor of Diana were exposed as frauds, and the Gospel was heard by both Jews and Greeks throughout the whole province of Asia (Acts x19:10-26). It seems that St. Paul himself remained in Ephesus all the time (Acts 20:18), but his influence and efforts were extended by co-workers, like Epaphras and Tychicus of Colossse, and by the multitudes who came to Ephesus for various purposes, and, having heard the glad tidings of the new religion, carried them back to their homes. Although his personal work in Ephesus was nearly finished and he was contemplating an early visit to Macedonia and Corinth (1 Cor 16:5 ff.), the Apostle’s stay was somewhat shortened by the tumult raised by the silversmith Demetrius and his craftsmen; whereas he had intended to prolong his labors in that fruitful field until Pentecost, and then go to Macedonia and Achaia (Acts 19:21 ff.; 1 Cor 16:8-9).

On his way from Corinth back to Syria at the close of his third missionary journey (58 a.d.), St. Paul, unable to spare the time for a visit to Ephesus itself, halted at Miletus on the coast of Caria (Acts 20:15), some thirty miles southwest of Ephesus, and called thither the ancients of the Church of Ephesus, and addressed to them the solemn discourse of which St. Luke has given us the substance in Acts 20:18-35—which discourse is at once an indication of the strong and flourishing condition of the Ephesian Christian community and of St. Paul’s abiding interest in and affection for the Church there.

The next mention of Ephesus in connection with St. Paul is in the Pastoral Epistles, written towards the end of the Apostle’s life. In 1 Tim. 1:3 ff., we read that Paul exhorted Timothy to remain at Ephesus as head of that Church to teach and to correct, while he himself went to Macedonia; and in the Second Epistle to Timothy, written during the Apostle’s last imprisonment in Rome and shortly before his death, ‘he recalls the kindness of the Ephesian Onesiphorus (2 Tim. 2:18), and says he has sent Tychicus to Ephesus (2 Tim. 4:12).

Ephesus is mentioned twice in later Apostolic history, namely, in Rev 1:11; 2:1. There it was, after Timothy had passed, that St. John the Evangelist, as Bishop of that see, spent his declining years and wrote his Gospel and Epistles; there he was heard by Polycarp, Ignatius Martyr, and Papias; and there he died and was buried about the close of the first century of our era.

The Church of Ephesus continued to exercise a great influence for many centuries. It was the scene of the Ecumenical Council of 431 and of the “Robber Synod” of 449, and at the end of the fourth century its Bishop bore the title of Exarch or Grand Metropolitan of Asia. Ultimately, however, the primacy of Asia was taken over by the Patriarch of Constantinople, and the Christian community of Ephesus gradually declined with the rest of the city its present desolate state of a small Turkish village.

4. To Whom Ephesians Was Addressed. It is extremely difficult to decide for whom this letter was destined. A great variety of opinions have been advanced, the merits of all of which it is neither possible nor useful to discuss here. Hence we shall confine ourselves to those which seem most likely, and which are or have been most generally held.

According to tradition this Epistle was intended for the faithful of the city of Ephesus, which St. Paul visited at the close of his second missionary journey and where he spent over two years on his third journey. In favor of this opinion we have: (a) the testimony of all extant Manuscripts containing St. Paul’s Epistles, which—with the exception of the Vatican (B), the Sinaitic (S), the cursive 67, and that of Mt. Athos recently found—read ἐν ᾿Εφέσῳ (at Ephesus) in Eph 1:1; (b) the title given this Epistle by every known MS., which has “To the Ephesians”; (c) the most ancient versions, going back to the middle of the second century, which follow the MSS. in reading “at Ephesus” in 1:1, and which therefore seem to indicate that this reading was already old when they were made; (d) the Muratorian Fragment in Rome, St. Irenaeus in Gaul, Tertullian in Africa, and Clement in Alexandria. These Fathers appear to have held the Ephesian destination of this letter on the authority of tradition, and not on the evidence of the MSS. before them. Thus it seems that, at the end of the second century, tradition was wellnigh unanimous in affirming that this letter was written for the faithful of Ephesus. Internal evidence, however, in support of this ancient opinion is, practically speaking, entirely lacking.

Against the Ephesian destination we have: (a) the indirect and negative testimony of the four MSS. referred to above, two of which are the oldest and best in existence, going back to about the middle of the fourth century; (b) Marcion, about the middle of the second century, who said this letter was addressed to the Laodiceans, and who, since he could have had no dogmatic reason for saying so, may have been guided by some ancient codex which read this way; (c) Tertullian, who, arguing against Marcion for the Ephesian destination, was influenced only by tradition, making no reference to the words “at Ephesus” in 1:1, which must therefore have been absent from the MSS. known to him; (d) Origen, St. Basil, and St. Jerome, from whose writings we see that the phrase “at Ephesus” in 1:1 was lacking in the MSS. they made use of. With regard to the argument from Marcion, just given above, we are not obliged to believe that he had before him a codex which read “to the Laodiceans,” for his opinion may have been based only on the reference in Colossians to a letter at Laodicea (Col. 4:16). However, all this external evidence seems to show, at least, that the words ἐν ᾿Εφέσῳ of verse 1 of this Epistle are not authentic, and consequently do not prove anything for the Ephesian destination of the letter.

Internal evidence is strongly opposed to an Ephesian destination. For example, (a) this Epistle has no personal greetings of any kind, which is nearly impossible to understand if Paul was writing to Ephesus where he had lived and labored so long and so successfully; (b) the tone of the letter is formal and distant, terms of familiarity and endearment (like “beloved” and “brethren”), being entirely absent; (c) there is no allusion to the Apostle’s previous relations with his readers (as in Thess., Gal., Corinth., etc.), but, on the contrary, he seems to be unknown to the recipients of this Epistle, he has only heard of their faith (Eph 1:15), they have perhaps heard of the ministry committed to him (Eph 3:2 ff.), and he hopes they have been taught aright regarding Christ (Eph 4:20-21). We cannot imagine St. Paul addressing the Ephesians, either exclusively or inclusively, in this manner; and hence it seems to us that not only was this letter not addressed solely to the faithful of Ephesus, but it also could not have been written to any group of Churches which would include Ephesus.

If, therefore, we are to follow the theory commonly accepted nowadays (namely, that this was a Circular Epistle addressed to a number of Christian communities in Asia Minor), we ought to exclude the Church at Ephesus, and perhaps confine ourselves to the faithful of Laodicea and Hierapolis. But here again we encounter difficulties. Since these cities were only a few miles from Colossae, and must therefore have been affected by the same errors as endangered the faithful to whom Colossians was sent, it is hard to see why two letters so different in tone and object should have been directed to readers so near together and so similarly circumstanced. We admit, of course, that this objection has weight only in the supposition that Ephesians was addressed exclusively to the Churches at Laodicea and Hierapolis, and not to a group of Churches of which those two were only a part. If then we hold that we have here a Circular Epistle, and yet exclude the Church at Ephesus for the reasons given at the end of the preceding paragraph, and also the Churches at Laodicea and HierapoHs because of their nearness to Colossae, what group of Churches unknown to St. Paul shall we designate as readers of this letter? In reply it must be observed, first of all, that it seems next to certain that the readers addressed by this Epistle were living in Asia Minor somewhere and not too far from Colossae, since Tychicus was the bearer of this Epistle and of that to the Colossians at one and the same time. Arguing thus, some scholars have concluded that this letter was written for that rather isolated group of Churches in northeastern Asia Minor, near the Black Sea, to which St. Peter addressed his first letter (1 Pet. 1:1). The Ephesian designation given the letter, we are told, was due to the fact that, when the official collection of St. Paul’s Epistles was prepared some time in the second century, the copy which had been made at Ephesus when Tychicus first arrived there with the original from Rome, and which naturally bore the inserted reference to that central Church of Asia, was the one that was chosen for the Canon and that was copied generally in subsequent codices (cf. Ladeuze, Cath, EncycL, vol. V, pp. 487, 488; Revue Bihliquc, 1902, pp. 573-580.) This conjecture is worth some reflection, but one may well ask why St. Paul sent the crown of all his Epistles only to such a comparatively insignificant body of the faithful.

In view of the unsatisfactory character of the conclusions so far arrived at touching the destination of this letter, perhaps it is best after all to hold with the majority of modern scholars that we have in Ephesians a circular letter written to the various Churches of Asia Minor, including Ephesus, Laodicea and Hierapolis, and that the impersonal tone and distant, formal character of the Epistle are to be explained by the very fact that so many of the faithful were addressed, not a few of whom were strange and unknown to the Apostle. Along with this opinion the words ἐν ᾿Εφέσῳ (at Ephesus) which are found in so many MSS., can be explained quite reasonably as in the preceding paragraph.

The opinion of Harnack, however, which Fr. Knabenbauer regarded as not improbable and which Dr. J, M. Voste, O.P., adopts in his learned work on Ephesians, deserves our serious consideration. The opinion goes back to Marcion’s view that our Epistle was addressed to the Laodiceans. We give here a summary of Dr. Voste’s reasoning on this theory.

In the first place, the best text of verse i of this Epistle seems to be defective, as if the name of a city which ought to be in it had dropped out or had been purposely omitted. After the words τοῖς οὖσιν (who are) we should expect a noun, as in Rom. 1:7 τοις ουσιν εν ρωμη (to all in Rome), and in Phil. 1:1 τοις ουσιν εν φιλιπποις (to all in Philippi); (cf. also 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:2; Col. 1:2). Therefore, it is concluded that verse 1 of Ephesians ought to read: τοις ουσιν εν λαοδικεια (to those that are at Laodicea, etc.). The phrase εν λαοδικεια (at Laodicea), we are told, was in time suppressed because of the unworthiness which later crept into the Church of Laodicea, and to which St. John refers in Rev 3:14-19; but that it belongs there and that this Epistle was consequently directed to the Laodiceans is further made probable by the following references to the Church at Laodicea in the Epistle to the Colossians:

1. “For I would have you know what manner of care I have for you and for them that are at Laodicea, and whosoever have not seen my face in the flesh” (Col. 2:1). Here we observe that, while speaking to the Colossians, only the Laodiceans are expressly named.

2. St. Paul says of Epaphras: “For I bear him testimony that he hath much labor for you, and for them that are at Laodicea, and them at Hierapolis” (Col. 4:13). These three cities—Colossae, Laodicea and Hierapolis—were not far apart in the valley of the Lycus River.

3. The Apostle says to the Colossians: “Salute the brethren who are at Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church that is in his house” (Col. 4:15). Here Hierapolis is not included.

4. Finally, the Apostle says: “And when this Epistle shall have been read with you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans: and that you read that which is of the Laodiceans” (Col. 4:16). Here again there is question only of the Churches at Colossae and Laodicea, and both have received a letter from St. Paul.

As Dr. Voste goes on to observe here, it is manifest from the foregoing texts that the Churches at Colossae and Laodicea were intimately connected one with the other and in the heart of the Apostle. And hence it would a priori be very strange if, while the Epistle to the Colossians has been preserved, that to the Laodiceans should have been lost—all the more so, since, having been read at Colossae, most likely a copy of it would have been made by the Colossians That no copy of a letter so important as this one seems to have been should have come down to us, while that to the Church of Colossae and even the little personal letter to Philemon written at the same time have been preserved, borders on the incredible. But, on the other hand, if among the Epistles of St. Paul that we have there is one which, as regards time of composition and contents, is like our Epistle to the Colossians, though its traditional inscription gives rise to various hypotheses, there results great probability that this is the Epistle to the Laodiceans.

Now, we have an Epistle to the Ephesians, written at the same time as the Epistle to the Colossians and in many ways very much like it, which seems certainly not to have been written to the Ephesians but to some other Church. The suspicion, therefore, naturally arises that this letter which now bears the title “to the Ephesians,” but which in the best MSS. and in ancient tradition appeared without any special inscription, is that lost Epistle of St. Paul’s which was sent to the Laodiceans. With this admission, we shall find no difficulty in the absence of salutations and of particular characteristics, because, as a matter of fact, the Laodiceans had never seen St. Paul, and, moreover, certain things in the Epistle to the Colossians, which was also to be sent to the Laodiceans, would pertain to the latter.

Hence, it seems very probable that our Epistle to the Ephesians in the beginning carried in its salutation the phrase εν λαοδικεια (at Laodicea) and that Marcion in the middle of the second century still read these authentic words in his text. We can account for the early suppression of the Laodicean designation, as said above, by the great corruption which invaded the Church of Laodicea towards the end of the first century (Rev 3:14-19), and which rendered it no longer worthy of so great a privilege and special distinction. This suppression would naturally be soon forgotten at large, and in course of time, when the collection of St. Paul’s Epistles was made, the illustrious name of Ephesus, the capital city of Roman Asia where St. Paul had lived so long, was substituted for the omission, in order to satisfy the grammatical construction ot the first verse of the letter, as well as to give to this glorious Epistle a complete and specific inscription, like those of St. Paul’s other letters. The fact that not all MSS. adopted the Ephesian inscription only proves that the Epistle had for long been known to lack the name of any special city or place.

The foregoing explanation is in substance the theory of Harnack as given by Dr. Voste in his work on Ephesians (Introduction, pp. 18 ff.) . As said above, this opinion was also accepted by Fr. Knabenbauer, S.J., as not improbable, and it has been followed by a number of non-Catholic exegetes. To us it seems very plausible, though not entirely free from difficulties. Perhaps it is open to fewer objections than any of the other explanations.

5. Authorship of Ephesians. This letter was circulated in the Church to some extent by the end of the first century, at the close of the second century it was in common use and widely known and it was always ascribed to St. Paul as its author. In fact, the authenticity of this Epistle was admitted without question by every ancient authority that can now be cited. Thus, the Muratorian Canon includes Ephesus among the Churches to which St. Paul wrote letters. St. Irenseus quotes Eph 5:30 as the words of “the blessed Paul in his Epistle to the Ephesians.” Tertullian argues against Marcion for the Ephesian destination of this letter. Clement of Alexandria, Origen and St. Basil are equally explicit; and Eusebius includes this Epistle among the sacred writings which were admitted by the whole Church without hesitation.

It is even probable that we have an allusion to this Epistle in Col. 4:16, and a number of references to it in the First Epistle of St. Peter. For the latter compare Eph. 1:3-14 with 1 Pet. 1:2; Eph. 1:20 with 1 Pet. 3:22; Eph. 2:18-22 with 1 Pet. 2:4-6; Eph. 3:10 with 1 Pet. 1:12; Eph. 4:9 with 1 Pet. 3:19; Eph. 5:22-6:9 with 1 Pet. 2:18-3:7. There are also quotations from and allusions to this Epistle, or echoes of it, in the writings of St. Ignatius Martyr, Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Tatian, The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, and the Epistle of Barnabas.

Moreover, the heretics of the second century not only admitted that St. Paul was the author of this letter, but they even cited it as Sacred Scripture. Marcion, for example, included it in his Canon (cf. St. Epiphanius, Haer., xlii. 9), Valentine made use of it to justify his own doctrine (cf. St. Iren., Adv. Haer., i. 3, 8), Basilides did likewise (Philosoph., vii. 26), and other heretics likewise had recourse to it when they thought it served their purpose.

Among modern Rationalists and non-Catholic writers there are some who have doubted or denied the authenticity of our letter, but there is an equal if not a greater number who admit its genuineness, or incline towards it. In the former group are Schleiermacher, De Wette, Weizacher, Ewald, Baur, Holtzmann, Renan, Schwegler, Davidson, Cone, Moffatt, Dobschutz, Pfleiderer, Clemen, Scott, von Soden, etc.; whereas in the latter group we find such names as Weiss, Zahn, Shaw, Knowling, Lunemann, Lock, Robertson, Bacon, Schenkel, Salmon, Godet, Harnack, McGiffert, Howson, etc. Dr. Hort says he is sure that Ephesians bears “the impress of Paul’s wonderful mind.” Julicher appears to be uncertain.

One of the main reasons for suspecting the authenticity of this Epistle is based upon its similarity to Colossians, from which it is concluded that one or the other or both are the work of some falsifier, living perhaps early in the second century.

We may reply, in the first place, by freely conceding that the resemblances between these two letters are many and striking. For example, (a) the salutations are practically the same; (b) both have the same general structure; (c) in both the principal subjects and leading thoughts are much the same, the relations of Christ to His Church and to the Universe being the dominant thoughts in Ephesians and Colossians respectively; (d) there are many parallel passages, the same words, phrases and similitudes, and, in the practical part, the same counsels and exhortations. But are not these similarities just what we should expect in two letters written by the same author at about the same time to two Churches in practically the same spiritual condition and general environment? They are both Captivity Epistles (Eph. 6: 20; Col. 4:10), and Tychicus is the bearer of them both (Eph. 6:21-22; Col. 4:7-9), very probably to neighboring Churches known to him. Is it surprising, then, that both letters should discuss similar themes in a similar style?

In the second place, let it be observed that, while there are notable resemblances between Ephesians and Colossians, there are also marked differences. Thus, (a) Colossians is personal and concrete, Ephesians impersonal and general in application, (b) The former inclines to the controversial and polemical; the latter is poetical and mystical, and more Johannine than any other of the Pauline writings. “In Colossians Paul is the soldier, in Ephesians the builder” (Farrar). “Colossians is a letter of discussion, Ephesians of reflection. In the former we behold Paul in spiritual conflict, in the latter his soul is at rest” (Findlay). (c) The former is Christological, dealing with Christ’s relation to the universe; the latter is the ecclesiastical Epistle, treating of the relation between Christ and the Church. Under this last heading there are five passages in Ephesians which have no parallel in Colossians, namely, Eph 1:3-14, 4:4-16, 5:8-14, 5:22-33, 6:10-17. (d) There are twelve references to the Holy Ghost in Ephesians, and only one in Colossians; there are nine quotations from the Old Testament in the former Epistle, and none in the latter.

In view of the foregoing, it seems to us that no valid argument against the Pauline authorship of Ephesians can be drawn from the resemblances between that Epistle and Colossians. But our objectors find another difficulty in the style and diction of this letter, where, we are told, there are some forty strange words or expressions (ἅπαξ λεγόμενον = hapax legomenon) that do not occur elsewhere, either in the writings of St. Paul or in the whole New Testament; and some forty more which, while they are found elsewhere in the New Testament, are not to be found in St. Paul. Moreover, it is objected that the style here is dull and sluggish; that it is overtaxed with phrases, clauses, synonyms and qualifying epithets; and that it is lacking in the sharpness, vigor, and overpowering eloquence so characteristic of St. Paul. Hapax legomenon is a term employed by scholars to refer to words and phrases that appear only once or very rarely in a book or an author’s body of work.

In reply to the first difficulty it need only be said that peculiarities of expression may be found more or less in all the letters of St. Paul, and as frequently in those whose authenticity the Rationalists admit as in the others. Thus, for example, we find ninety-six ἅπαξ λεγόμενον (hapax legomenon) in the Epistle to the Romans; ninety-one in 1 Cor.; ninety-two in 2 Cor.; thirty-three in Gal.; thirty-six in Philippians, etc. On the other hand, it should be noted that this letter contains many words not found in the New Testament except in the writings of St. Paul, which is an additional, positive proof of its authenticity.

As regards peculiarities of style and composition, we can say that these are easily and satisfactorily explained by a consideration of the time, place, and conditions in which Paul wrote this letter, as well as the circumstances of the faithful to whom he addressed it. The Apostle was nearing the end of his eventful life; he was a prisoner in Rome, the central city of a vast empire, and he had leisure for meditation on the great mysteries that had been revealed to him. He was writing to Churches unknown to him, at least for the most part, with which he had no reason for discussion or controversy, but which he wished to remind of the spiritual treasures that were theirs. In language, therefore, which often takes on the qualities and proportions of a hymn of adoration he unfolds to his readers in this letter the wealth of sublime thoughts and reasonings that flooded his soul. It is not wonderful, then, that his language here becomes rich and overflowing, soaring up like a cloud of incense to the very throne of God. Paul was writing from his prison cell in Rome, but his heart and soul were with Christ in heaven; he was enchained to a Roman soldier, but his mind swept over the vast Roman domains and took in the conditions of all the Churches scattered throughout the Christian world; he was still bound to his earthly tabernacle, but his thoughts penetrated to the “heavenly places” and pondered the mystery, the plenitude, the light, the love, the peace and glory of the Godhead as revealed in Christ and made known to the Church.

There are few advocates today of the argument against the authenticity of this letter which Baur, Schwegler and other Rationalists based on the Epistle’s relation to the Gnosticism of the second century. First of all, it is well known now that the Gnosticism which was a developed system in the second century had its beginning and early growth in the time of St. Paul. On this point we need only consult Irenaeus (Adv. Har., i. 23), Clement of Alexandria (Strom., vii. 18), and Eusebius (Hist. EccL, ii. 13 ; iv. 7).

In the second place, it is altogether doubtful whether there is any allusion in the Epistle to the Ephesians to Gnosticism, as it appeared in the second century. It is far more likely, on the contrary, that the propagators of this heresy made deliberate use of some of the expressions of St. Paul in this letter to help the spread and acceptance of their own doctrines.

6. Date and Place of Composition. At the close of Paul’s third missionary journey, while he was fulfilling a vow in the Temple at Jerusalem, he was arrested by the Jewish authorities on a false charge (Acts 21:26 ff.) and carried away as a captive to Csesarea, where he was kept in prison for two years (Acts 23:23-24:27). At the end of this period, when the Roman Governor Festus was about to bring him to trial, the Apostle asserted his Roman citizenship and appealed to the tribunal of Cassar; and Festus, having heard Paul’s story and found him guilty of no crime, decided to send him to Rome (Acts 25:1-27). After making the long and perilous journey Paul with Luke finally arrived in the Eternal City and was there kept in prison two more years (Acts 27:1-28:31).

Now we shall assume that the Csesarean imprisonment occurred 58-60 A.D., that St. Paul set out from Caesarea for Rome in the autumn of 60 a.d., arriving in the latter city in the spring of 61 a.d., and that consequently the Apostle’s ensuing Roman captivity was from 61 to 63 A.D. We accept these years, not because they are certain or the only ones, but because they are just as probable as (if not a little more so than) any others that may be given. With these data premised, we ought not to find it difficult to fix the date and place of composition, not only of Ephesians, but also of the three other Captivity Epistles—Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon— on account of the very close relationship between these four letters.

As in the case of the three last-named Epistles, the Apostle was a prisoner on behalf of the Gentiles when he wrote our letter (Eph. 3:1; 4:1; 6:20), and his imprisonment had lasted a considerable time (Eph. 3:1; 6:22). Our letter was carried to its destination by a certain Tychicus (Eph. 6:21), who was at the same time entrusted with a similar letter to be delivered to the faithful at Colossae (Col. 4:6), and who therefore was recommended to both these Churches in almost the same words. On this mission Tychicus was accompanied by Onesimus, a fugitive slave from Colossas, whom the Apostle was sending back with a letter of commendation to his master, Philemon, a well-to-do Christian of that city (Col. 4:7-9). From these clear indications it seems evident that Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon were all written from the same place, during the same imprisonment, and therefore about the same time. But whether Rome or Csesarea was the place of Paul’s captivity at this time is still a disputed question, with the great weight of evidence pointing to Rome. For, if we examine the letter to the Philippians, we shall find that that Epistle was written either shortly before or shortly after these other three, while the Apostle was in the same imprisonment (Phil. 1:12 ff.), and that the indications are all Romeward. Thus the reference to the prsetorium in Phil. 1:13, the relations between Jewish and Gentile Christians as reflected in Phil 1:15-20, the mention of Caesar’s household in Phil. 4:22, the freedom to preach and teach which St. Paul enjoyed (Phil. 1:12; Eph. 6:23; cf. Acts 24:32 ff., 28:31 ff.), are all much more applicable to Rome than to Caesarea. Again, it must have been when St. Paul was in Rome that he was expecting a speedy release ( Phlm. 22), for surely he was not expecting a release from Caesarea that would soon enable him to visit Philemon in Colossae. Finally, the points of contact between these four Epistles and the Pastoral Epistles in phraseology, in Christology, in the stress laid on an organized Church and family life, etc., all indicate the later date, and so favor Rome, during the Apostle’s first captivity there between 61 and 64 A.D. (cf. Hastings, Dict, of The Bible, vol. I, p. 718).

In conclusion, then, we hold with the traditional opinion that not only Ephesians, but also Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, were written by St. Paul in the Eternal City, during his first Roman captivity (61-63 a.d.).

7. Occasion and Purpose. We have just seen that the Apostle was a prisoner in Rome when he wrote this letter. Epaphras had brought him news of the dogmatic and moral errors that were springing up in the Church at Colossae and the neighboring cities. Perhaps the Apostle had been accused of a lack of interest In those Churches which he had not personally evangelized, and which had not seen his face (Col. 2:1-5). He had heard of the faith and charity of the “Ephesians,” and he was greatly pleased at this (Eph. 1:15-16); they also had heard of him and of his work among the Gentiles (Eph. 3:2 ff.).

While, therefore, dispatching Tychicus with a letter to the Colossians, St. Paul seized the opportunity to send this letter to those other Churches which he addressed in this Epistle, to remind them of their dignity as Christians and of the glorious life in Christ; to assure them that, though not evangelized by him, they were nevertheless members of the one vast Catholic Church which had been predestined before the ages to unite all mankind, Jews and Gentiles, in one common brotherhood living the life of God ; to exhort them, consequently, to a higher activity and a greater unity in accordance with God’s eternal decrees and purposes for His Church; to warn them against the dangers of sin and possible errors which would imperil their divine life here on earth and their sublime prospects in the eternal life hereafter; and to stimulate them to ever greater efforts in the pursuit of virtue and in the fulfillment of their various duties. That such were the occasion and purpose of the letter to the “Ephesians” an analysis of its contents seems to show, as well as the hints that we can gather from the Epistle to the Colossians.

8. Argument and Division. In general, this Epistle consists of a brief introduction, in which St. Paul greets his readers in his usual manner (Eph 1:1-2); a dogmatic part, in which he discusses God’s eternal purpose, realized in Christ, of uniting all mankind, Jews and Gentiles, in the one Church of Christ (Eph 1:3-3:21); a moral part, in which are outlined the duties incumbent upon the members of the Church in the Christian life (Eph 4:1-6:20); and a conclusion, containing some personal matters and a benediction (Eph 6:21-24). A more detailed analysis of the dogmatic and moral parts will help to a better understanding of the Epistle.

A. Dogmatic Part (Eph 1:3—3:21).—(a) A solemn act of thanksgiving to God for our union with Christ (Eph 1:3-14). In lyric fashion, the Apostle begins by recalling the divine benefits for which Almighty God from eternity has chosen and predestined us, that, namely, through the grace of Christ we should be His holy and adopted children (Eph 1:3-6). It was Christ, he says, who in time carried out the divine decree, redeeming us from our sins by His blood, and revealing to us the supreme mystery of God, which was to reconcile to Himself all things in Christ (Eph 1:7-10); for in Christ we have become God’s portion, both we Jews, who had the Messianic promises, and you Gentiles, who by faith have also received the Holy Ghost, the pledge of our eternal inheritance (Eph 1:11-14).

(b) A prayer that the Ephesians may understand the glories of being united to Christ in His Church (Eph 1:13-23). In a special manner the Apostle first thanks God for the faith and love which are already characteristic of the “Ephesians” (Eph 1:15-16). He then prays for a still greater outpouring of the Spirit upon them that they may realize their Christian dignity and their future glory, as well as the greatness of the divine power exerted in our behalf (Eph 1:17-19), and pre-eminently manifested in raising Jesus from the dead, and in making Him Lord of the universe and head of the Church, which is His mystical body (Eph 1:20-23).

(c) The Gentiles’ former heathen life and condition are contrasted with their present privileges in the Church of Christ (Eph 2:1-22). Formerly the “Ephesians” were dead in their sins, walking according to the course of this world and obeying the lusts of the flesh; but God out of pure mercy raised them from their miserable state to a participation in the resurrection and glorification of Christ, by whose grace we are saved (Eph 2:1-10). In order that the “Ephesians” may understand the greatness of the grace they have received, St. Paul bids them recall the state in which they were living before their conversion, and to contrast that with the exalted benefits they now enjoy through their union with Christ (Eph 2:11-13), who has broken down the wall that separated Jews and Gentiles and has reconciled both the one and the other with the Father (Eph 2:14-18). Henceforth the “Ephesians” are admitted to full membership in the household of God and are made parts of His spiritual edifice (Eph 2:19-22).

(d) A renewed prayer that the “Ephesians” may know and appreciate the greatness of their Christian vocation (Eph 3:1-19). At the thought of the call of the Gentiles into the Church of Christ, St. Paul breaks forth in an act of thanksgiving (Eph 3:1); but the very mention of the Gentiles causes him to interrupt his prayer and to digress upon the part his preaching and ministry have had in their admission into the Church (Eph 3:2-13). Resuming his prayer (Eph 3:14), the Apostle asks God out of the riches of His glory to give the “Ephesians” spiritual strength and the grace necessary to become perfect Christians (Eph 3:14-19).

(e) Doxology, which concludes the Dogmatic Part of the Epistle: Glory to God in the Church, and in Christ Jesus, the head of the Church, throughout all coming generations, to all eternity (Eph 3:20-21).

B. Moral Part (Eph 4:1-6:20).—(a) The general character of the Christian Ufe, as manifested in the diversity of gifts and functions  of the members of the Church within the one Church (Eph 4:1-16). The Apostle, bound a prisoner in the Lord, exhorts his readers to live a life worthy of their vocation in all charity, being careful to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 4:1-6). The diversity of the gifts of the Holy Ghost should not be an obstacle to unity, but rather a means of greater solidarity, because all the faithful are members of the one mystical body of Christ
(Eph 4:7-16).

(b) The contrast between the old life of paganism and the new life of Christianity (Eph 4:17-24). The “Ephesians” must live no longer as they did as pagans, in ignorance and impurity (Eph 4:17-19); but, putting away the old man according to the flesh, they must put on the new man according to God (Eph 4:20-24).

(c) Virtues required of all Christians (Eph 4:25-5:21). Our life and unity in Christ require that we refrain from the vices of lying, anger, etc., and practice the contrary virtues (Eph 4:25-32), that we be followers of God and imitators of Christ in our lives, avoiding the works of darkness and walking as children of light (Eph 5:1-14). Let us be truly wise, using well our time, fulfilling the will of God, filled with the Holy Spirit, etc. (Eph 5:15-21).

(d) Admonitions for special classes in the Church (Eph 5:22-6:9). After a general exhortation to obedience (Eph 5:21), the Apostle now takes up the duties of special classes in the Church, namely, those of wives and husbands (Eph 5:22-33), of children and parents (Eph 6:1-4), and of slaves and masters (Eph 6:5-9)—all of which duties are to be faithfully discharged for the sake of Christ and in Christ.

(e) The warfare of the Church (Eph 6:10-20). From a consideration of things pertaining to the internal welfare of the Church, St. Paul now turns to external needs and reminds his readers of the battles that must be fought against spiritual forces without. Each member of the Church must be prepared to do his part in this warfare, and his weapons must be those of God Himself.

So much for the Dogmatic and Moral Parts. The Conclusion, like the Introduction, has been noticed at the beginning of this section.

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Commentary on Galatians 6:11-18

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2018

Text in red are my additions.
 
CONCLUSION OF THE EPISTLE

 
A Summary of Galatians 6:11-18~Taking the pen of his secretary into his own hand St. Paul gives some final and solemn counsels to the Galatians, summing up the polemical and doctrinal parts of the Epistle (verses 11-15), auguring peace to those who will follow his rule (verse 16), uttering a prayer of confidence in the final triumph of his labors (verse 17), and wishing the Galatians an affectionate farewell (verse 18).

Gal 6:11. See what a letter I have written to you with my own hand.

See what a letter. Better, “See with what large letters.” This is the usual sense of πηλικοις (= pelikois = large). The word γραμμασιν (= grammasin = letters) in the dative plural cannot signify anything but the character or dimensions of the letters; the reference is not to the Epistle or letter he has written (Lagrange). St. Paul writes this autograph himself with large letters because of the importance of these final words, and to set out in relief again his authority.

I have written to you. Literally, “I have written to you with large letters.” See the arrangement of the words in the Greek text. εγραψα (= egrapsa) is doubtless the epistolary aorist, since it refers only to the autograph.

Gal 6:12. For as many as desire to please in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer the persecution of the cross of Christ.

As many as. These words refer to the false teachers.

In the flesh, i.e., among men (St. Chrysostom), or in a worldly way, or according to the flesh and an earthly standard.

They constrain, i.e., they are putting pressure on you.

Only that. The motive behind the actions of the Judaizers was to avoid being persecuted as believers in a crucified Messiah whose death meant the redemption of mankind and the abrogation of the Law. The uncircumcised Christians were exposed to the hate and persecution not only of the pagans, but especially of the Jews.

Gal 6:13. For neither they themselves who are circumcised, keep the law; but they will have you to be circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.

A proof that the false teachers are not sincere is that they themselves do not keep the Law.

They themselves, etc., i.e., the Judaizers, did not observe the whole Law, but only as much of it as seemed to their advantage. The reason these false Christians wanted others to be circumcised was on account of their preference for Judaism and for their own nation, and also in order to be esteemed by the Jewish chiefs; they wanted to insist that circumcision, the distinctive mark of Judaism, was necessary for salvation, and hence something very much to their credit.

Gal 6:14. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world.

St. Paul aspires to something far higher than the fleshy mark of circumcision wherein to glory; this is mere human glory. He will glory in nothing, save the cross of his crucified Saviour, the one true source of justification and salvation. To the Jews the cross was a sign of ignominy and malediction, but to the Christians it was the cause of salvation and the chief object of the preaching of St. Paul and the other Apostles (Acts 2:22, 26, 38; 1 Cor 2:2; 2 Cor 4:8, etc.).

By whom. Better, “Whereby” (δι ου). The Greek Fathers make δι ου refer to cross rather than to Christ, and this seems to agree better with the context (see NAB, RSV. The LEB retains the reference to Christ, i.e., by whom, instead of by or through which). The cross is the means, the instrument of redemption, through which, by reason of his union with Christ crucified, the Apostle is dead to the world, that is, to the reign of sin (1 Cor 1:20; 2 Cor 4:4; Eph 2:2), and the world is dead to him (Gal 2:20); in other words, all ties between him and the wicked world are broken.
The per quem of the Vulgate supposes Christ as the antecedent of δι ου.

Gal 6:15. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

This verse contains the same thought as v. 6. In the new order of things, which has been established by means of the cross of Christ, circumcision or uncircumcision, as pertaining to this carnal world, avails nothing; the only thing that counts is a new creature (cf. 2 Cor 5:17; Rom 1:25; Heb 4:13), i.e., elevation to the supernatural state of grace by which we become adopted sons of God and heirs of heaven.

In Christ Jesus (Vulg., in Christo Jesu), though well supported, is doubtless to be omitted here, as coming from verse 6.

Euthalius in the fifth century, Syncellus in the eighth century, and Photius in the ninth century said that this verse was quoted from the apocryphal work called, The Assumption of Moses; but in the only portion of this latter work which has come down to us, and which appeared around A.D. 7 , this passage does not occur. The apocryphal work in which it is found is of a later date, and doubtless borrowed the passage from our Epistle.

Gal 6:16. And whosoever shall follow this rule, peace on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

This rule, i.e., of glorying only in the cross of Christ (verse 14), and of being a new creature (verse 15). Those who follow such a rule will enjoy peace in union with Christ, and will experience God’s mercy as the source of their present peace and of their ultimate salvation.

The Israel of God, i.e., the real Israel, all true Christians, whether of Jewish or Gentile origin, as opposed to the merely carnal descendants of Abraham.

Gal 6:17. From henceforth let no man be troublesome to me; for I bear the marks of the Lord Jesus in my body.

From henceforth, i.e., for the future (του λοιπου), let no one trouble the Apostle about his doctrine, his Apostolate or the like. If anyone say that he is not a true servant of Christ, the refutation of such a calumny is found in the sufferings and marks of persecution which he bears on his body as a proof of his dependence on and of his fidelity to his Master (2 Cor 11:23-25; Acts 14:18). The allusion in  στιγματα (“stigmata”) is to the marks with which masters used to brand their slaves as an indication of proprietorship, or to the sacred signs that were set on persons or things under the protection of a god or goddess as a mark of their consecration to the deity. St. Paul is the property of his divine Master, he is consecrated to Him, and therefore is above all the troubles and molestations of a lower order. There is no question here of such stigmata as were imprinted on St. Francis of Assisi.

Gal 6:18. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.

The Apostle terminates his letter with an affectionate salutation. He calls the Galatians by the tender term of brethren to show that notwithstanding their mistakes and unfaithfulness, he loves them and wishes them well. The mention of spirit seems to be a last reminder of the great theme of the whole letter, namely, that true life lies not in the flesh, or fleshy practices, but in the spirit, that is, in the life of grace.

All personal greetings are absent from the close of this Epistle, perhaps because, like the Epistle to the Ephesians, it was intended to be a circular letter to several towns. The letter is addressed to the churches (plural) of Galatia. Karl Schelkle suggests that the absence of personal greetings is the result of the tensions between St Paul and the Galatians. He bases this on the absence of St Paul’s usual thanksgiving at the opening of this letter, its being replaced  with an exasperated statement of amazement that the Galatians are deserting the gospel (see Gal 1:6-9).

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Commentary on Galatians 6:7-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2018

WE MUST DO GOOD IN VIEW OF THE JUDGMENT TO COME

A Summary of Galatians 6:7-10~As a last and supreme motive why the Galatians should be zealous and instant in good of every kind St. Paul reminds them of the judgment to come. Reflection on this salutary truth will give weight and fuller meaning to all the advice he has given them.

Gal 6:7. Be not deceived, God is not mocked.

Some scholars connect this verse and its severe warning with what has been said in the preceding verse regarding the duty of giving temporal assistance in exchange for spiritual benefits. But since that duty, while certain, is after all not of the most serious nature and not the most definite and precise, it would seem that the grave admonition of the present verse has reference rather to the obligation of living a Christian life in general, of living by the spirit and not according to the flesh. To profess Christianity, and yet obey the lusts and promptings of the lower nature is surely to mock God, and to prepare for one’s self a terrible judgment.

Gal 6:8. For what things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap. For he that soweth in his flesh, of the flesh also shall reap corruption. But he that soweth in the spirit, of the spirit shall reap life everlasting.
This verse is explanatory of the preceding one. The harvest depends chiefly upon the kind of seed that is sown and upon the soil in which it is sown. If one sows in the flesh, then he must expect the corruption which alone the flesh can produce; but if, in the spirit, i.e., if one performs good works which proceed from the grace of God in his soul, he will reap as his harvest life everlasting. This verse is a proof that good works done in and through grace can merit eternal life as their recompense.

Spirit here does not mean the Holy Ghost, but grace, the supernatural principle of the spiritual life.

Gal 6:9. And in doing good, let us not fail. For in due time we shall reap, not failing.

There is question here of perseverance in doing good, in performing those acts and deeds that proceed from God’s grace in the soul.

Let us not fail, i.e., let us not grow weary or faint-hearted, for at the time appointed by the Master of the field we shall reap our eternal harvest, provided we persevere.
The Greek Fathers give a peculiar interpretation to not failing, namely, that the reaping of the heavenly harvest will be without lassitude or fatigue.

Gal 6:10. Therefore, whilst we have time, let us work good to all men, but especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

The practical conclusion now drawn is that during the present life we should try to do as much good as possible (Cornely, Lightfoot) to all the world, but in particular to those of the faith of Christ. Christians are considered as members of the household of God.

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Commentary on Galatians 6:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2018

Text in red are my additions.
HOW WE SHOULD EXERCISE OUR ZEAL FOR OTHERS
A Summary of Galatians 6:1-6~Paul now shows the Galatians how they are to regulate their conduct toward others. They should correct with meekness those who err, should help to carry others’ burdens, should be on their guard against self-deception, should let their own deeds speak for them, and give material assistance to those who have instructed them.

Gal 6:1 Brethren, and if a man be overtaken in any fault, you, who are spiritual, instruct such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

Life by the spirit is not an impeccable existence; and hence the Apostle tells the Christians that if one of their number should out of frailty commit some fault, they ought with kindness and humility to instruct him.

Be overtaken, i.e., be surprised by sin, yielding to it through weakness.

You, who are spiritual, etc. This is addressed to all the Christians, whose conscience testifies to them that they are living spiritual lives.

Instruct, i.e., correct, render perfect again.

Thyself. The change from plural to singular is calculated to emphasize the need of personal vigilance and sympathy in correcting others.

Gal 6:2. Bear ye one another’s burdens; and so you shall fulfil the law of Christ.

Having spoken of sympathetic correction and of common weakness in the preceding verse St. Paul now exhorts to further help.

Bear ye (βασταζετε = bastazete), i.e., help to carry one another’s burdens. By burdens here are meant moral defects, or the inclinations that lead to, and the remorse that follows such defects. To bear with others’ defects and faults is to practice charity, and this means to fulfil the whole law of Christ, because all precepts are reducible to charity (see Gal 5:14).

Gal 6:3. For if any man think himself to be some thing, whereas he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

This verse can be connected with verse 1, but in that case verse 2 would be a parenthesis. St. Jerome shows the connection between verses 2 and 3: “He who refuses to bear the burdens of another doubtless thinks that he has no need of being assisted himself, in which he deceives himself.”

He is nothing, if joined with what precedes, means: “Although he is nothing”; but if with what follows, the meaning is: “Because he is nothing.”

He deceiveth, etc., i.e., “he deceives his own mind” (St. Jerome), because he attributes to his own efforts and merits what really belongs to God. Pride makes one blind, unmerciful and uncharitable.

Gal 6:4. But let everyone prove his own work, and so he shall have glory in himself only, and not in another.

But let, etc. In place of deceiving one’s self, let each one examine himself by something external and objective, by his own work, i.e., his own life and actions; then he will see what he is in reality. If he discovers something good, as is possible, he will have reason within himself for rejoicing moderately, and not by comparing himself with another whom he considers beneath him. This is the explanation of St. Chrysostom, which seems to agree perfectly with the text.

Gal 6:5. For everyone shall bear his own burden.

To explain how this verse is not out of harmony with verse 2 Cornely, following some of the Fathers, thinks there is question here of bearing one’s personal responsibilities before the judgment-seat of God; whereas in verse 2 there was question of helping to bear the burdens of this present life. Fr. Lagrange, however, thinks the thought of the judgment is not in the context; and he consequently explains this verse by saying that the burden (φορτιον = phortion) which each one must bear is the performance of the duty imposed on each one in verse 2.

Gal 6:6. And let him that is instructed in the word communicate to him that instructeth him, in all good things.

After having spoken in verses 1-5 of the duties imposed by charity on those who are spiritual, St. Paul now turns his attention to the duty incumbent on those who have received the blessings of instruction in the Gospel; and he recommends that these latter divide (κοινωνειτω) with their instructors something of their temporal goods and possessions (Cornely, Lagrange, Lightfoot, Zahn, etc.). It is the uniform teaching of St. Paul that the disciple ought to give temporal aid to him from whom he has received spiritual assistance (cf. 1 Cor 9:11; 2 Cor 11:7-9; 1 Thess 2:6-9; Philip 4:15-17; 1 Tim 5:17-18).

That is instructed in the word. Better, “That is being instructed in the word,” i.e., in the Gospel.

In all good things, i.e., the disciple should give a part of his temporal goods to his instructor. He who preaches the Gospel has the right to live by the Gospel (1 Cor 9:7-14; 1 Thess 5:12-13). For the use of αγαθοις (“good things’) in the sense of temporal assistance see Luke 12:18-19; Luke 16:25.

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Commentary on Galatians 5:16-26

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2018

Text in red are my additions.
HE WORKS OF THE FLESH AND THE FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT

Summary of Galatians 5:16-26~The Apostle tells the Galatians that their disputes and contentions are signs that they are living according to the flesh. The flesh and its lower instincts are contrary to life by the spirit. If we walk by the latter, we shall not obey the former; neither shall we be under the Law. The opposition between the flesh and the spirit is manifest from the works of the one and the fruits of the other.

Gal 5:16. I say then, walk in the spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh.

See on Rom 8:4, 5. St. Paul now commences to explain what is meant by liberty, spoken of in verse 13.

The spirit. The reference here is perhaps not immediately to the Holy Ghost, but rather to the life of grace in man. “By the flesh he (the Apostle) means the inclination of the mind to the worse; by the spirit, the indwelling grace” (Theodoret).

Lusts is singular in Greek; it means the depraved inclinations of the lower nature.

The Spiritus of the Vulgate should be spiritus; and desideria should be desiderium, to agree with the Greek.

 Gal 5:17. For the flesh lusteth against the spirit : and the spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary one to another : so that you do not the things that you would.

This verse is not a summary of Rom 7:15 ff., as Protestant scholars contend. In Romans there is question of man’s natural faculties and powers prior to faith and Baptism; while here, faith is presupposed, and grace is active in the soul. Concupiscence is not extinguished by Baptism, and hence even in the life of grace the lower nature more or less constantly rises against the spiritual principle in man.

So that, etc. The Greek ἵνα (= hina) here is not easy to explain. It is taken by Cornely in a final sense, as if Paul wished to show that in each case the choice depends on one’s own will. Lagrange finds this explanation very good, except that it is almost diametrically contrary to the Greek text of the present verse. Therefore he prefers to give ἵνα  a consecutive meaning, since there is question of a result or consequence. Hence the sense would be: Man does not do what, according to simple velleity, he would like to do. If he follows the spirit, he has only velleity of the flesh; contrariwise, if he obeys the flesh, he has only an inefficacious wish to follow the spirit. In either case man does not yield to his inclinations in their entirety. 

Gal 5:18. But if you are led by the spirit, you are not under the law.

If the Christian is guided by the principle of his higher life, by grace, which is superadded to his rational nature, he is no longer under the Law, but is an adopted son of God.

If you are led, etc., i.e., if you live according to the life of grace which you have received in Baptism, you are nowise under the terrors, the threats, and the penalties of the Law. Here, as in the preceding verse, spirit means grace rather than the Holy Ghost.

 Gal 5:19. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury,

Now δέ (= de) is explicative, not adversative. It is not difficult to determine whether we are living according to the spirit or according to the flesh; for the works of the latter (Gal 5:19-21), as well as the fruits of the former (Gal 5:22-23), are manifest, and this without the aid of the Law to make us aware of them.

Fornication, i.e., unlawful carnal intercourse with non-spouses, especially with prostitutes.

Uncleanness, i.e., general moral impurity, embracing sins against nature.

Immodesty, i.e., open shamelessness, or shameless sensuality.

Luxury (Vulg., luxuria) is not in the Greek.

Gal 5:20. Idolatry, witchcraft, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects,

Errors in religion are mentioned first.

Idolatry, i.e., the heathen worship of the images of the gods. The Christians were often exposed to the danger of participating in this sin which was one of the most important functions in the celebration of municipal and imperial feasts.

Witchcraft φαρμακεία (= pharmakeia), i.e., magic and sorcery, which, although prohibited by the official religious and civil law, were very much practiced among the people in private.

Sins against charity are now enumerated.

Enmities ἔχθρα (= echthra). The plural occurs only here in the New Testament.

Quarrels, i.e., parties ἐριθεία (= eritheia), contending for place and power.
 
Gal 5:21. Envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God.

The enumeration of the vices of the flesh is here terminated with two sins against temperance (cf. Rom 13:13).

Of the which I foretell, etc., i.e., of which I warn you, before the judgment of God comes upon you. St. Paul is referring to his personal instructions to the Galatians, as well as to his present warning.
 
Gal 5:22. But the fruit of the Spirit is, charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity,
Gal 5:23. Mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity. Against such there is no law.

To the works of the flesh St. Paul now opposes the fruits of the spirit. He calls them by the singular fruit to show that all supernatural virtues are united in the one Christian virtue of charity. The Clementine Vulgate enumerates twelve fruits of the spirit, while in the Greek there are only nine.

Patience, modesty and chastity are omitted from the Greek list because they are double renderings of μακροθυμία, πρᾳότης, ἐγκράτεια   respectively. The Latin enumeration in conformity with the Greek would be as follows: caritas, gaudium, pax, longanimitas, benignitas, bonitas, fides, mansuetudo, continentia. St. Jerome has the same enumeration, but with a different order.

Charity is the first fruit of the Holy Ghost, and consequently also of a soul in the state of grace.

Peace with God, with one’s own conscience, and with one’s neighbor. Charity, joy and peace are more interior to the soul, and nourish those exterior virtues which have to do with the neighbor and the external world.

Faith here does not mean the theological virtue, but rather fidelity, or confidence towards others.

Continency is the virtue opposed to the vices of voluptuousness and intemperance.

Against such, etc., i.e., those who practice the above virtues are not under the Mosaic or any other law.

Gal 5:24. And they that are Christ’s, have crucified their flesh, with the vices and concupiscences.

They that are Christ’s, etc. Literally, “They that are of Christ Jesus,” i.e., those who have received Baptism have, by their moral and mystical union with the crucified Saviour, placed their flesh, i.e., their inordinate tendencies, passions and vices, as it were, in a state of death, whereby they are enabled to inaugurate the life of the spirit. It is sin that is dead; the flesh, i.e., concupiscence, which remains after sin, continues to war against the spirit (verse 17). Cf. Rom 6:2 ff.

Vices πάθημα (= pathēma), i.e., the passions, as sources of evil desires.

Gal 5:25. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

A practical conclusion is now drawn. It is not enough to have received the principle of a holy life; we must live a holy life. Our lives must be regulated and directed not by the Law, but by the spirit.

Gal 5:26. Let us not be made desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another. 

This verse is regarded by some as a last word of counsel relative to life by the spirit; by others, as an introduction to what follows. Those who live by the spirit will be led to right conduct in their relations towards others.

The thought here goes back to that of verse 15. There, however, the feeling is stronger.

Let us, etc. The Apostle includes himself in their temptation, doubtless out of humility and in order to conciliate his readers.

Provoking, etc., i.e., challenging one another.

Envying, etc., i.e., rivaling one another.

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Commentary on Galatians 5:13-15

Posted by Dim Bulb on December 21, 2018

LIBERATION FROM THE LAW DOES NOT FREE ONE FROM THE OBLIGATION OF CHARITY

A Summary of Galatians 5:13-15~The Galatians were called to freedom, but they must not abuse their happy state. Rather, let them seek that higher servitude which consists in serving one another; for charity is the fulfillment of the Law.

Gal 5:13. For you, brethren, have been called unto liberty : only make not liberty an occasion to the flesh, but by charity of the spirit serve one another.

St. Paul in this verse wishes to define the liberty which Christ has purchased for us and which is referred to in 5:1.

Unto liberty, i.e., freedom from the ceremonial observances of the Mosaic Law, as well as the temporal penalties by which that Law gave sanction to its moral precepts. The Galatians, like all Christians, were called to Christianity that they might live in freedom; but they must not make their liberty an occasion or pretext to indulge the flesh, i.e., the lower tendencies and instincts of corrupt human nature (cf. Rom 8:4 ff.), always disposed to satisfy itself in self-seeking and egoism. To such a spirit the Apostle opposes charity, and tells his readers to be servants (δουλευετε) one of another.

The words of the spirit (Vulg., Spiritus) are not found in the best MSS. They are doubtless a gloss added to the text to make it clear that the charity in question is the supernatural virtue by which we love God first, and our neighbor for God’s sake.

Gal 5:14. For all the law is fulfilled in one word : Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

All the law, i.e., the whole Law with all its precepts. The Galatians were anxious to receive circumcision in order to fulfil the Law, but charity fulfils every law, human and divine. The moral life is regulated by the Decalogue, and the Decalogue is summed up in the love of one’s neighbor. St. Paul here, as in Rom 13:8-10, is presupposing the love of God as the foundation of the whole Christian life.

Gal 5:15. But if you bite and devour one another: take heed you be not consumed one of another.

St. Paul warns the Galatians that if, like wild beasts, they bite and tear one another asunder, they will completely ruin their Christian community. He refers to their religious disputes and dissensions which seem to have engendered real hatred among them. Perhaps the Apostle is referring to disorders which will develop, if they do not be careful to check beginnings, although St. Chrysostom thinks he is speaking of conditions actually existing at the time.

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