The Divine Lamp

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

Posts Tagged ‘Notes on Ephesians’

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Ephesians 4:19-28

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 22, 2017

This post is made up from two of St Chrysostom’s homilies. Homily 13 (complete) on 4:19-24; and Homily 14 on verses 25-28.

HOMILY 13
Eph 4:19-24

“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye no longer walk as the Gentiles also walk, in the vanity of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart: who being past feeling, gave themselves up to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”

These words are not addressed to the Ephesians only, but are now addressed also to you; and that, not from me, but from Paul; or rather, neither from me nor from Paul, but from the grace of the Spirit. And we then ought so to feel, as though that grace itself were uttering them. And now hear what it saith. “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye no longer walk as the Gentiles also walk, in the vanity of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart.” If then it is ignorance, if it is hardening, why blame it?2 if a man is ignorant, it were just, not that he should be ill-treated for it, nor be blamed, but that he should be informed of those things of which he is ignorant. But mark how at once he cuts them off from all excuse. “Who being past feeling” saith he, “gave themselves up to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness; but ye did not so learn Christ.” Here he shows us, that the cause of their hardening was their way of life, and that their life was the consequence of their own indolence and want of feeling.

“Who being past feeling,”3 saith he, “gave themselves up.”

Whenever then ye hear, that “God gave them up unto a reprobate mind” (Rom. 1:28), remember this expression, that “they gave themselves up.” If then they gave themselves over, how did God give them over? and if again God gave them over, how did they give themselves over? Thou seest the seeming contradiction. The word, “gave them over,” then, means this, He permitted4 them to be given over. Seest thou, that the impure life is the ground for like doctrines also? “Every one,” saith the Lord, “that doeth ill hateth the light, and cometh not to the light.” (John 3:20.) For how could a profligate man, one more immersed in the practice of indiscriminate lewdness than the swine5 that wallow in the mire, and who is a lover of money, and has not so much as any desire after temperance, enter upon a life like this? They made the thing, saith he, their “work.”6 Hence their “hardening” (ver. 19), hence the “darkness of their understanding.” There is such a thing as being in the dark, even while the light is shining, when the eyes are weak; and weak they become, either by the influx of ill humors, or by superabundance of rheum. And so surely is it also here; when the strong current of the affairs of this life overwhelms the perceptive power of the understanding, it is thrown into a state of darkness. And in the same way as if we were placed in the depths under water, we should be unable to see the sun through the quantity of water lying, like a sort of barrier, above us, so surely, in the eyes of the understanding also a blindness of the heart takes place, that is, an insensibility, whenever there is no fear to agitate the soul. “There is no fear of God,” it saith, “before his eyes” (Ps. 36:1); and again, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” (Ps. 14:1.) Now blindness arises from no other cause than from want of feeling; this clogs the channel; for whenever the fluids are curdled and collected into one place, the limb becomes dead and void of feeling; and though thou burn it, or cut it, or do what thou wilt with it, still it feels not. So is it also with those persons, when they have once given themselves over to lasciviousness: though thou apply the word to them like fire, or steel, yet noting touches, nothing reaches them; their limb is utterly dead. And unless thou canst remove the insensibility, so as to touch the healthy members, everything thou doest is vain.

“With greediness,” saith he.

Here he has most completely taken away their excuse; for it was in their power, if at least they chose it, not to be “greedy,”1 nor to be “lascivious,” nor gluttonous, and yet to enjoy their desires. It was in their power to partake in moderation2 of riches, and even of pleasure and of luxury; but when they indulged the thing immoderately,3 they destroyed all.

“To work all uncleanness,” saith he.

Ye see how he strips them of all excuse by speaking of “working uncleanness.” They did not sin, he means, by making a false step, but they worked out these horrid deeds, and they made the thing a matter of study. “All uncleanness”; uncleanness is all adultery, fornication, unnatural lust, envy, every kind of profligacy and lasciviousness.

Ver. 20, 21. “But ye did not so learn Christ,” he continues, “if so be that ye heard Him, and were taught in Him even as truth is in Jesus.”

The expression, “If so be that ye heard Him,” is not that of one doubting, but of one even strongly affirming: as he also speaks elsewhere, “If so be that it is a righteous thing with God to recompense affliction to them that afflict you.” (2 Thess. 1:6.) That is to say, It was not for these purposes that “ye learned Christ.”

Ver. 22. “That ye put away as concerning your former manner of life, the old man.”

This then surely is to learn Christ, to live rightly; for he that lives wickedly knows not God, neither is known of Him; for hear what he saith elsewhere, “They profess that they know God, but by their works they deny Him.” (Tit. 1:16.)

“As truth is in Jesus; that ye put away as concerning your former manner of life, the old man.”

That is to say, It was not on these terms that thou enteredst into covenant. What is found among us is not vanity, but truth. As the doctrines are true, so is the life also. Sin is vanity and falsehood; but a right life is truth. For temperance is indeed truth, for it has a great end; whereas profligacy ends in nothing.

“Which waxeth corrupt,” saith he, “after the lusts of deceit.” As his lusts became corrupt, so himself also. How then do his lusts become corrupt? By death all things are dissolved; for hear the Prophet, how he saith, “In that very day his thoughts perish.” (Ps. 146:4.) And not by death only, but by many things besides; for instance, beauty, at the advance of either disease or old age, withdraws and dies away, and suffers corruption. Bodily vigor again is destroyed by the same means; nor does luxury itself afford the same pleasure in old age, as is evident from the case of Barzillai:4 the history, no doubt, ye know. Or again, in another sense, lust corrupts and destroys the old man; for as wool is destroyed by the very same means by which it is produced, so likewise is the old man. For love of glory destroys him, and pleasures will often destroy him, and “lust” will utterly “deceive” him. For this is not really pleasure but bitterness and deceit, all pretense and outward show. The surface, indeed, of the things is bright, but the things themselves are only full of misery and extreme wretchedness, and loathsomeness, and utter poverty. Take off the mask, and lay bare the true face, and thou shalt see the cheat, for cheat it is, when that which is, appears not, and that which is not, is displayed. And it is thus that impositions are effected.

The Apostle delineates for us four men.5 Of these I shall give an explanation. In this place he mentions two, speaking thus, “Putting away the old man, be ye renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man.” And in the Epistle to the Romans, two more, as where he saith, “But I see a different law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members.” (Rom. 7:23.) And these latter bear affinity to those former two, the “new man” to the “inner man,” and the “old man” to the “outer man.” However, three of these four were subject to corruption. Or rather there are three, the new man, the old, and this, man in his substance and nature.1

Ver. 23. “And that ye be renewed,” saith he, “in the spirit of your mind.”

In order that no one may suppose that, whereas he speaks of old and new, he is introducing a different person, observe his expression, “That ye be renewed.” To be renewed is, when the selfsame thing which has grown old is renewed, changed from one thing into the other. So that the subject indeed is the same, but the change is in that which is accidental. Just as the body indeed is the same, and the change in that which is accidental, so is it here. How then is the renewal to take place? “In the spirit of your mind,” saith he. Whosoever therefore has the Spirit, will perform no old deed, for the Spirit will not endure old deeds. “In the spirit,” saith he, “of your mind,” that is, in the spirit which is in your mind.2

Ver. 24. “And put on the new man.”

Seest thou that the subject is one, but the clothing is twofold, that which is put off, and that which is put on? “The new man,” he continues, “which after God hath been created in righteousness and holiness of truth.” Now wherefore does he call virtue a man? And wherefore vice, a man? Because a man cannot be shown without acting; so that these things, no less than nature, show a man, whether he be good or evil. Now as to undress one’s self and to dress one’s self is easy, so may we see it is with virtue and vice. The young man is strong; wherefore let us also become strong for the performance of good actions. The young man has no wrinkle, therefore neither should we have. The young man wavers not, nor is he easily taken with diseases, therefore neither should we be.

Observe here how he calls this realizing of virtue, this bringing of it into being from nothing, a “creation.” But what? was not that other former creation after God? No, in nowise, but after the devil. He is the sole creator of sin.

How is this? For man is created henceforth, not of water, nor of earth, but “in righteousness and holiness of truth.” What is this? He straightway created him, he means, to be a son: for this takes place from Baptism. This it is which is the reality, “in righteousness and holiness of truth.” There was of old a righteousness, there was likewise a holiness with the Jews. Yet was that righteousness not in truth, but in figure. For the being clean in body was a type of purity, not the truth of purity; was a type of righteousness, not the truth of righteousness. “In righteousness,” saith he, “and holiness,” which are “of truth.”

And this expression is used with reference to falsehood; for many there are, who to them that are without, seem to be righteous, yet are false. Now by righteousness is meant universal virtue. For hearken to Christ, how He saith, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in nowise enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:20.) And again, he is called righteous, who has no charge against him; for so even in courts of justice we say that that man is righteous, who has been unrighteously treated, and has not done unrighteously in return. If therefore we also before the terrible Tribunal shall be able to appear righteous one towards another, we may meet with some lovingkindness. Toward God indeed it is impossible we should appear so, whatever we may have to show. For everywhere He overcometh in what is righteous, as the Prophet3 also saith, “That Thou mightest prevail when Thou comest into judgment.” But if we violate not what is righteous towards each other, then shall we be righteous. If we shall be able to show that we have been treated unrighteously, then shall we be righteous.

How does he say to them who are already clothed, “put on”? He is now speaking of that clothing which is from life and good works. Before, the clothing was from Baptism, whereas now it is from the daily life and from works; no longer “after the lusts of deceit,” but “after God.” But what means the word “holy”? It is that which is pure, that which is due; hence also we use the word of the last duty in the case of the departed, as much as to say, “I owe them nothing further, I have nothing else to answer for.” Thus it is usual for us to say, “I have acquitted myself of all obligations,”1 and the like, meaning, “I owe nothing more.”

Moral. Our part then is, never to put off the garment of righteousness, which also the Prophet calls, “the garment of salvation” (Isa. 61:10), that so we may be made like unto God. For He indeed hath put on righteousness. This garment let us put on. Now the word, “put on,” plainly declares nothing else, than that we should never at all put it off. For hear the Prophet, where he saith, “He clothed himself also with cursing as with his garment, and it came into his inward parts.” (Ps. 109:18.) And again, “Who coverest Thyself with light as with a garment.” (Ps. 104:2.) And again, it is usual with us to speak concerning men, such an one has “put on” such an one. So then it is not for one day, nor for two, nor for three, but he would have us ever arrayed in virtue, and never stripped of this garment. For a man is not so disfigured when he is stripped of his clothing, as when he is stripped of his virtue. In the former case his fellow-servants behold his nakedness, in the latter his Lord and the Angels. If ever thou happen to see any one going out naked through the public square, tell me, art thou not distressed? When then thou goest about stripped of this garment, what shall we say? Seest not those beggars whom we are wont to call strollers,2 how they roam about, how we pity even them? And yet nevertheless they are without excuse. We do not excuse them when they have lost their clothes by gaming; and how then, if we lose this garment, shall God pardon us? For whenever the devil sees a man stripped of his virtue, he straightway disguises and disfigures his face, and wounds him, and drives him to great straits.

Let us strip ourselves of our riches, that we be not stripped of righteousness. The garb of wealth mars this garment. It is a robe of thorns. Thorns are of this nature; and the more closely they are wrapped around us, the more naked are we made. Lasciviousness strips us of this garment; for it is a fire, and the fire will consume this garment. Wealth is a moth; and as the moth eats through all things alike, and spares not even silken garments, so does this also. All these therefore let us put off, that we may become righteous, that we may “put on the new man.” Let us keep nothing old, nothing outward, nothing that is “corrupt.” Virtue is not toilsome, she is not difficult to attain. Dost thou not see them that are in the mountains? They forsake both houses, and wives, and children, and all preëminence, and shut themselves away from the world, and clothe themselves in sackcloth, and strew ashes beneath them; they wear collars hung about their necks, and have pent themselves up in a narrow cell.3 Nor do they stop here, but torture themselves with fastings and continual hunger. Did I now enjoin you to do the like, would ye not all start away? Would ye not say, it is intolerable? But no, I say not that we must needs do anything like this:—I would fain indeed that it were so, still I lay down no law. What then? Enjoy thy baths, take care of thy body, and throw thyself freely into the world, and keep a household, have thy servants to wait on thee, and make free use of thy meats and drinks! But everywhere drive out excess, for that it is which causes sin, and the same thing, whatever it be, if it becomes excessive, becomes a sin; so that excess is nothing else than sin. For observe, when anger is excited above what is meet, then it rushes out into insult, then it commits every sort of injury; so does inordinate passion for beauty, for riches, for glory, or for anything else. And tell me not, that indeed, those of whom I spoke were strong; for many far weaker and richer, and more luxurious than thou art, have taken upon them that austere and rugged life. And why speak I of men? Damsels not yet twenty years old, who have spent their whole time in inner chambers, and in a delicate and effeminate mode of life, in inner chambers full of sweet ointments and perfumes, reclining on soft couches, themselves soft in their nature, and rendered yet more tender by their over indulgence, who all the day long have had no other business than to adorn themselves, to wear jewels, and to enjoy every luxury, who never waited on themselves, but had numerous handmaids standing beside them, who wore soft raiment softer than their skin, fine linen and delicate, who reveled continually in roses and such like sweet odors,—yea, these very ones, in a moment, seized with Christ’s flame, have put off all that indolence and even their very nature, have forgotten their delicateness and youth, and like so many noble wrestlers, have stripped themselves of that soft clothing, and rushed into the midst of the contest. And perhaps I shall appear to be telling things incredible, yet nevertheless are they true. These then, these very tender damsels, as I myself have heard, have brought themselves to such a degree of severe training, that they will wrap the coarsest horsehair about their own naked bodies, and go with those tender soles unsandaled, and will lie upon a bed of leaves: nay more, that they watch the greater part of the night, and that they take no heed of perfumes nor of any other of their old delights, but will even let their head, once so carefully dressed, go without special care, with the hair just plainly and simply bound up, so as not to fall into unseemliness. And their only meal is in the evening, a meal not even of herbs nor of bread, but of flour and beans and pulse and olives and figs. They spin without intermission, and labor far harder than their handmaids at home. What more? they will take upon them to wait upon women who are sick, carrying their beds, and washing their feet. Nay, many of them even cook. So great is the power of the flame of Christ; so far does their zeal surpass their very nature.

However, I demand nothing like this of you, seeing ye have a mind to be outstripped by women. Yet at least, if there be any tasks not too laborious, at least perform these: restrain the rude hand, and the incontinent eye. What is there, tell me, so hard, what so difficult? Do what is just and right, wrong no man, be ye poor or rich, shopkeepers or hired servants; for unrighteousness may extend even to the poor. Or see ye not how many broils these engage in, and turn all things upside down? Marry freely, and have children. Paul also gave charge to such, to such he wrote. Is that struggle I spoke of too great, and the rock too lofty, and its top too nigh unto Heaven, and art thou unable to attain to such an height? At least then lay hold on lesser things, and aim at those which are lower. Hast thou not courage to get rid of thine own riches? At least then forbear to seize on the things of others, and to do them wrong. Art thou unable to fast? At least then give not thyself to self-indulgence. Art thou unable to lie upon a bed of leaves? Still, prepare not for yourselves couches inlaid with silver; but use a couch and coverings formed not for display, but for refreshment; not couches of ivory. Make thyself small. Why fill thy vessel with overwhelming cargoes? If thou be lightly equipped, thou shalt have nothing to fear, no envy, no robbers, no liers in wait. For indeed thou art not so rich in money as thou art in cares. Thou aboundest not so much in possessions, as in anxieties and in perils, “which bring in many temptations and lusts.” (1 Tim. 6:9.) These things they endure, who desire to gain great possessions. I say not, minister unto the sick; yet, at least, bid thy servant do it. Seest thou then how that this is no toilsome task? No, for how can it be, when tender damsels surpass us by so great a distance? Let us be ashamed of ourselves, I entreat you; for in worldly matters, to be sure, we in no point yield to them, neither in wars, nor in games; but in the spiritual contest they get the advantage of us, and are the first to seize the prize, and soar higher, like so many eagles:1 whilst we, like jackdaws, are ever living in the steam and smoke; for truly is it the business of jackdaws, and of greedy dogs, to be setting one’s thoughts upon caterers and cooks. Hearken about the women of old; they were great characters, great women and admirable; such were Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Deborah, and Hannah; and such there were also in the days of Christ. Yet did they in no case outstrip the men, but occupied the second rank. But now it is the very contrary; women outstrip and eclipse us. How contemptible! What a shame is this! We hold the place of the head, and are surpassed by the body. We are ordained to rule over them; not merely that we may rule, but that we may rule in goodness also; for he that ruleth, ought especially to rule in this respect, by excelling in virtue; whereas if he is surpassed, he is no longer ruler.2 Perceive ye how great is the power of Christ’s coming? how He dissolved the curse? For indeed there are more virgins than before among women, there is more modesty in those virgins, and there are more widows. No woman would lightly utter so much as an unseemly word. Wherefore then, tell me, dost thou use filthy speech? For tell me not that they were virgins in despondency or despair.

The sex is fond of ornament, and it has this failing. Yet even in this you husbands surpass them, who pride yourselves even upon them, as your own proper ornament; for I do not think that the wife is so ostentatious of her own jewels, as the husband is of those of his wife. He is not so proud of his own golden girdle, as he is of his wife’s wearing jewels of gold. So that even of this you are the causes, who light the spark and kindle up the flame. But what is more, it is not so great a sin in a woman as in a man. Thou art ordained to regulate her; in every way thou claimest to have the preëminence. Show her then in this also, that thou takest no interest in this costliness of hers, by thine own apparel. It is more suitable for a woman to adorn herself, than for a man. If then thou escape not the temptation, how shall she escape it? They have moreover their share of vainglory, but this is common to them with men. They are in a measure passionate, and this again is common to them with men. But as to those things wherein they excel, these are no longer common to them with men; their sanctity, I mean, their fervency, their devotion, their love towards Christ. Wherefore then, one may say, did Paul exclude them from the teacher’s seat? And here again is a proof how great a distance they were from the men, and that the women of those days were great. For, tell me, while Paul was teaching, or Peter, or those saints of old, had it been right that a woman should intrude into the office? Whereas we have gone on till we have come so debased, that it is worthy of question, why women are not teachers. So truly have we come to the same weakness as they. These things I have said not from any desire to elate them, but to shame ourselves, to chastise, and to admonish us, that so we may resume the authority that belongs to us, not inasmuch as we are greater in size, but because of our foresight, our protection of them, and our virtue. For thus shall the body also be in the order which befits it, when it has the best head to rule. And God grant that all, both wives and husbands, may live according to His good pleasure, that we may all in that terrible day be counted worthy to enjoy the lovingkindness of our Master, and to attain those good things which are promised in Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom to the Father, together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, might, and honor, now and forever and ever. Amen.

HOMILY 14
(excerpt)
Eph 4:25-28

“Wherefore, putting away falsehood, speak ye truth each one with his neighbor; for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not; let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil.”

Having spoken of the “old man” generally, he next draws him also in detail;[“And the first exhortation here was suggested by the immediately preceding ἀλήθεια. The figurative form of the precept also (ἀποθέμενοι, ‘putting off’) is an echo from what precedes.”—Meyer.—G. A.]

“>1 for this kind of teaching is more easily learned when we learn by particulars. And what saith he? “Wherefore, putting away falsehood.” What sort of falsehood? Idols does he mean? Surely not; not indeed but that they are falsehood also. However, he is not now speaking of them, because these persons had nothing to do with them; but he is speaking of that which passes between one man and another, meaning that which is deceitful and false. “Speak ye truth, each one,” saith he, “with his neighbor”; then what is more touching to the conscience[“ ‘Members’ one of another, and to ‘lie’ to one another,—how contradictory!”—Meyer.—G. A.]

“>2 still, “because we are members one of another Let no man deceive his neighbor. As the Psalmist says here and there; “With flattering lip and with a double heart do they speak.” (Ps. 12:2.) For there is nothing, no, nothing so productive of enmity as deceit and guile.

Observe how everywhere he shames them by this similitude of the body. Let not the eye, saith he, lie to the foot, nor the foot to the eye. For example, if there shall be a deep pit, and then by having reeds laid across upon the mouth of it upon the earth, and yet concealed under earth, it shall by its appearance furnish to the eye an expectation of solid ground, will not the eye use the foot, and discover whether it yields[εἵκει, Field’s emendation for the reading εἰκῇ of the MSS. He cites the phrase τὸ εἶκον καὶ μὴ ἀντιτυποῦν from Plato, Cratylus, 420 D.—G. A.]

“>3 and is hollow underneath, or whether it is firm and resists?ἀντιτυπεῖ.

“>4 Will the foot tell a lie, and not report the truth as it is? And what again? If the eye were to spy a serpent or a wild beast, will it lie to the foot? Will it not at once inform it, and the foot thus informed by it refrain from going on? And what again, when neither the foot nor the eye shall know how to distinguish, but all shall depend upon the smelling, as, for example, whether a drug be deadly or not; will the smelling lie to the mouth? And why not? Because it will be destroying itself also. But it tells the truth as it appears to itself. And what again? Will the tongue lie to the stomach? Does it not, when a thing is bitter, reject it, and, if it is sweet, pass it on? Observe ministration, and interchange of service; observe a provident care arising from truth, and, as one might say, spontaneously from the heart. So surely should it be with us also; let us not lie, since we are “members one of another.” This is a sure token of friendship; whereas the contrary is of enmity. What then, thou wilt ask, if a man shall use treachery against thee? Hearken to the truth. If he use treachery, he is not a member; whereas he saith, “lie not towards the members.”

“Be ye angry, and sin not.”

Observe his wisdom. He both speaks to prevent our sinning, and, if we do not listen, still does not forsake us; for his fatherly compassion does not desert him. For just as the physician prescribes to the sick what he must do, and if he does not submit to it, still does not treat him with contempt, but proceeding to add what advice he can by persuasion, again goes on with the cure; so also does Paul. For he indeed who does otherwise, aims only at reputation, and is annoyed at being disregarded; whereas he who on all occasions aims at the recovery of the patient, has this single object in view, how he may restore the patient, and raise him up again. This then is what Paul is doing. He has said, “Lie not.” Yet if ever lying should produce anger,[This seems to be a correct account of the connection, but the exact force of the first imperative it is not easy to determine. Winer (Grammar of N. T., Thayer’s translation, pp. 311, 312) takes it permissively: Be angry (I give you leave), but do not sin. He cites in proof Jer. 10:24, which, however, can be otherwise explained, namely, as the imperative of request, used in prayer. Compare the Lord’s prayer. Meyer says it does not seem logical to connect two imperatives by καὶ unless they are taken in the same sense. If the first imperative were permissive, the combination would be exceptive, and ἀλλά, μόνον or πλήν (Jer. 10:24) would be required. Both imperatives then are jussive, and there is an anger which a man not only may, but ought, to feel. So Ellicott and Riddle.—G. A.]

“>1 he goes on again to cure this also. For what saith he? “Be ye angry, and sin not.” It were good indeed never to be angry. Yet if ever any one should fall into passion, still let him not fall into so great a degree. “For let not the sun,” saith he, “go down upon your wrath.” Wouldest thou have thy fill of anger? One hour, or two, or three, is enough for thee; let not the sun depart, and leave you both at enmity. It was of God’s goodness that he rose; let him not depart, having shone on unworthy men. For if the Lord of His great goodness sent him, and hath Himself forgiven thee thy sins, and yet thou forgivest not thy neighbor, look, how great an evil is this! And there is yet another besides this. The blessed Paul dreads the night,[“There does not appear any allusion to the possible effect of night upon anger, as Chrysostom here, and Theophylact also.”—Ellicott. The parallel Pythagorean custom is cited by Ellicott (Hammond and Wetstein): “If they were ever carried away by anger into railing, before the setting of the sun they gave the right hand to each other, embraced each other, and were reconciled.”—G. A.]

“>2 lest overtaking in solitude him that was wronged, still burning with anger, it should again kindle up the fire. For as long as there are many things in the daytime to banish it, thou art free to indulge it; but as soon as ever the evening comes on, be reconciled, extinguish the evil whilst it is yet fresh; for should night overtake it, the morrow will not avail to extinguish the further evil which will have been collected in the night. Nay, even though thou shouldest cut off the greater portion, and yet not be able to cut off the whole, it will again supply from what is left for the following night, to make the blaze more violent. And just as, should the sun be unable by the heat of the day to soften and disperse that part of the air which has been during the night condensed into cloud, it affords material for a tempest, night overtaking the remainder, and feeding it again with fresh vapors: so also is it in the case of anger.

“Neither give place to the devil.”

So then to be at war with one another, is “to give place to the devil”; for, whereas we had need to be all in close array, and to make our stand against him, we have relaxed our enmity against him, and are giving the signal for turning against each other; for never has the devil such place as in our enmities.[This reference to church life is not implied in the context. He follows up what he said before by saying, Give not to the devil opportunity for being active by an angry state of mind.—G. A.]

“>3 Numberless are the evils thence produced. And as stones in a building, so long as they are closely fitted together and leave no interstice, will stand firm, while if there is but a single needle’s passage through, or a crevice no broader than a hair, this destroys and ruins all; so is it with the devil. So long indeed as we are closely set and compacted together, he cannot introduce one of his wiles; but when he causes us to relax a little, he rushes in like a torrent. In every case he needs only a beginning, and this is the thing which it is difficult to accomplish; but this done, he makes room on all sides for himself. For henceforth he opens the ear to slanders, and they who speak lies are the more trusted: they have enmity which plays the advocate, not truth which judges justly. And as, where friendship[Compare Goethe:
Die Freundschaft ist gerecht. Sie kann allein,
Den ganzen Umfang seines Werths erkennen.—G. A.]

“>4 is, even those evils which are true appear false, so where there is enmity, even the false appear true. There is a different mind, a different tribunal, which does not hear fairly, but with great bias and partiality. As, in a balance, if lead is cast into the scale, it will drag down the whole; so is it also here, only that the weight of enmity is far heavier than any lead. Wherefore, let us, I beseech you, do all we can to extinguish our enmities before the going down of the sun. For if you fail to master it on the very first day, both on the following, and oftentimes even for a year, you will be protracting it, and the enmity will thenceforward augment itself, and require nothing to aid it. For by causing us to suspect that words spoken in one sense were meant in another, and gestures also, and everything, it infuriates and exasperates us, and makes us more distempered than madmen, not enduring either to utter a name, or to hear it, but saying everything in invective and abuse. How then are we to allay this passion? How shall we extinguish the flame? By reflecting on our own sins, and how much we have to answer for to God; by reflecting that we are wreaking vengeance, not on an enemy, but on ourselves; by reflecting that we are delighting the devil, that we are strengthening our enemy, our real enemy, and that for him we are doing wrong to our own members. Wouldest thou be revengeful and be at enmity? Be at enmity, but be so with the devil, and not with a member of thine own. For this purpose it is that God hath armed us with anger, not that we should thrust the sword against our own bodies, but that we should baptizeβαπτίζωμεν τὴν μάχαιραν εἰς τὸ τοῦ διαβόλου στῆθος.

“>1 the whole blade in the devil’s breast. There bury the sword up to the hilt; yea, if thou wilt, hilt and all, and never draw it out again, but add yet another and another. And this actually comes to pass when we are merciful to those of our own spiritual family and peaceably disposed one towards another. Perish money, perish glory and reputation; mine own member is dearer to me than they all. Thus let us say to ourselves; let us not do violence to our own nature to gain wealth, to obtain glory.

Ver. 28. “Let him that stole,”[“ ‘The stealer (ὁ κλέπτων) is to steal no more.’ The present participle does not stand for the past, but is used substantively (like ὁ σπείρων, Matt. 13:3). As there were in the apostolic church ‘fornicators’ (1 Cor. 5:1), so there were also ‘stealers,’ and the attempts to tone down the word are arbitrary and superfluous.”—Meyer.—G. A.]

“>2 saith he, “steal no more.”

Seest thou what are the members of the old man? Falsehood, revenge, theft. Why said he not, “Let him that stole” be punished, be tortured, be racked; but, “let him steal no more”? “But rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have whereof to give to him that hath need.”

Where are they which are called pure;καθαροί. The Cathari, or pure, was the title which the Novatians indirectly assumed, by maintaining that none were in God’s favor but those who had not sinned after baptism, or who were pure as baptism made them, and by separating from the Church for granting absolution to penitents. The schism originated at Rome in the middle of the third century. Accordingly St. Chrysostom in the text says, that whereas all men need pardon continually, they who affected to be clean or pure without securing it were, as being without it, of all men most unclean. [And he strongly asserts, as against the Novatians, that it is possible to put away the guilt of sins committed after baptism, by ceasing from the practice of them and working that which is good. This view, however, differs from the Protestant view, that the putting away the guilt of sin is at first and always through God’s mercy and grace in Jesus Christ.—G. A.] In the sixth of eleven new Homilies edited by the Benedictines, t. xii. p. 355, he says that we may as well talk of the sea being clear of waves as any soul pure from daily sins, though not from transgressing express commandment, yet from vainglory, willfulness, impure thoughts, coveting, lying, resentment, envy, &c., and he mentions as means of washing away sins, coming to Church, grieving for them, confessing them, doing alms, praying, helping the injured, and forgiving injuries. “Let us provide ourselves with these,” he proceeds, “every day, washing, wiping ourselves clean, and withal confessing ourselves unprofitable,” unlike the Pharisee. “Thus ordering ourselves, we shall be able to find mercy and pardon in that fearful day, &c.” This homily was delivered at Constantinople. [On the Novatians, see Schaff, Church History, II., pp. 196, 197.—G. A.]

“>3 they that are full of all defilement, and yet dare to give themselves a name like this? For it is possible, very possible, to put off the reproach, not only by ceasing from the sin, but by working some good thing also. Perceive ye how we ought to get quit of the sin? “They stole.” This is the sin. “They steal no more.” This is not to do away the sin. But how shall they? If they labor, and charitably communicate to others, thus will they do away the sin. He does not simply desire that we should work, but so “work” as to “labor,” so as that we may “communicate” to others. For the thief indeed works, but it is that which is evil.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Ephesians 6:21-24

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 17, 2017

THE MISSION OF TYCHICUS

These verses (Eph 6:21-22) occur almost verbatim in Col, 4:7-8.

Eph 6:21. But that you also may know the things that concern me, and what I am doing, Tychicus, my dearest brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make known to you all things:
Eph 6:22. Whom I have sent to you for this same purpose, that you may know
the things concerning us, and that he may comfort your hearts.

You also. This phrase is understood to imply that Tychicus had visited others before delivering this letter to its readers, namely, the Colossians, and consequently it is concluded that the letter to the Colossians was written before this one.

Tychicus was a native of Asia Minor, perhaps of Ephesus (Acts 20:4; 2 Tim. 4:12). His name is found in inscriptions of Asia Minor and Rome, on coins of Magnesia, thirteen miles from Ephesus, and of Magnesia by Mt. Sipylus, where the Bishop of Ephesus now resides, thirty-eight miles from his titular see (see Hitchcock, Ephesians, p. 506; Lightfoot, Colossians, p. 234).

Whom I have sent, an epistolary aorist.

Concerning us, i.e., Paul and his companions in Rome.

That he may comfort your hearts, distressed by my imprisonment, and perhaps impending death.

BLESSING

Eph 6:23. Peace be to the brethren and charity with faith, from God the Father,
and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Eph 6:24. Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruption.
Amen.

Contrary to his custom St. Paul gives his benediction to third persons, “brethren,” instead of second persons, “you.”

With faith goes back to “charity,” by which it is informed, and to “peace,” which is its fruit, as a gift from the Holy Ghost. The single preposition before “God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” shows that both constitute the common source of supernatural peace and charity.

With all them that love is a circumlocution for “saints,” and it occurs only here.

In incorruption. Literally, “in incorruptness,” i.e., with an enduring, immortal love; the expression refers back to “love.” The weight of evidence seems to be against the retention of “Amen” here, though it makes a fitting close to so glorious an Epistle.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Ephesians 4:25-32

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 17, 2017

THE VIRTUES CHRISTIANS MUST PRACTISE AND THE VICES THEY
MUST AVOID

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

Eph 4:25. Wherefore putting away lying, speak ye the truth every man with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

Wherefore, i.e., since you have put off the old man and put on the new man who is characterized by justice and holiness, you must be on your guard against falling back into the sins of your former life; and first of all, you must put “away lying,” because this is so injurious to the neighbor, whom we are bound not to injure but to assist, as being all members of the one mystical body of Christ. Lying injures not only the neighbor, but oneself also, because we are all members of the same body, and that which injures one part of the body is felt in all the parts; the injury of the part reacts on the whole.

Eph 4:26. Be angry, and sin not. Let not the sun go down upon your anger;
Eph 4:27. Give not place to the devil.

Another sin to be avoided is unreasonable anger, that is, anger which springs from wounded personal feelings rather than from repugnance at something objectively wrong, or which is out of proportion to the objective harm done.

Be angry, and sin not. These words are from Ps. 4:5, cited according to the LXX. The meaning is: “If you have occasion to be angry, be careful that your anger does not become sinful.”

Let not the sun, etc. This is a proverbial expression, and it refers not to the anger but to that which caused the anger in question. The meaning is that the cause of anger should be removed and the offence given should be repaired as soon as possible. The Jewish day closed with the sunset.

Give no place to the devil. Excessive and prolonged anger affords an opportunity for the devil to act, and to excite in the soul feelings of hatred, revenge, and the like. To agree with the Greek, there should be no full stop at the end of verse 26, and verse 27 should read: “Neither give place, etc.”

Eph 4:28. He that stole, let him now steal no more; but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have something to give to him that suffereth need.

The next prohibition is not to steal; on the contrary, let those who through idleness or laziness were accustomed to steal as pagans, or are now stealing as Christians, do some good manual work as a remedy against this vice and as a means of earning something to be given to those in need, in reparation for goods ill-gotten in the past.

Stole is present tense in Greek, as if to imply that some among the Christians had not yet given up their pagan habit of stealing.

Eph 4:29. Let no evil speech proceed from your mouth; but that which is good, to the edification of faith, that it may administer grace to the hearers.

The Apostle now turns to the conversation of Christians, prohibiting foul speech of every kind, and enjoining “that which is good, etc.” (i.e., that which is calculated to edify the neighbor), so “that it may administer, etc.” (i.e., that it may be an occasion of grace to those who hear it).

Evil. Literally, “rotten,” which fitly described much of the talk that was common in heathen society.

To the edification of faith. Better, according to the authority of the best MSS., “to the building of the need,” i.e., as necessity requires, according to the demands of place, time, and person (St„ Jerome).

Grace here is understood by Theodoret to refer to that talk which is agreeable and acceptable to the hearers; but it is better to understand it in the ordinary Pauline sense of supernatural grace, which will also include the other meaning.

Eph 4:30. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God: whereby you were sealed unto the day of redemption.

Another reason for avoiding foul speech is that the Holy Ghost may not be grieved, “whereby” (i.e., in whom and by whom) both the speaker and the hearer of polluting speech “were sealed” at the time of their conversion, when they received the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, both of which were usually conferred together in the early Church.

Unto the day of redemption, i.e., until the general resurrection, when we shall take full possession of our redemption. See on Eph 1:14.

Eph 4:31. Let all bitterness, and anger, and indignation, and clamor, and blasphemy, be put away from you, with all malice.

In this final prohibition St. Paul strikes at the root of the different vices he has been enumerating: this root is “malice,” of which those other sins were the manifestations.

Bitterness is an aversion arising from prolonged anger; it is akin to sulkiness.

Anger is a transient outburst of passion, whereas indignation, or wrath, is a settled or chronic condition including the purpose of revenge.

Clamor, as here meant, is a violent and angry assertion of one’s real or supposed rights and wrongs.

Blasphemy is taken literally from the Greek, but it would be better to translate it in this passage by “reviling,” since there is question now of evil speech, not against God but against man.

Malice, i.e., malevolence or the desire to injure, is the root of the sins just mentioned. Compare the parallel passage in Col. 3:8.

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

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

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Ephesians 3:1-13

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 16, 2017

THE REVELATION OF THE MYSTERY THROUGH THE PREACHING OF ST. PAUL

A Summary of Ephesians 3:1-13~Having spoken in the first Chapter of this Epistle of God’s eternal purpose to unite Jewish and non-Jewish peoples in the one Church of Christ, and having shown in the second Chapter how this purpose has been realized in the present period of grace with its prospect of glorious consummation in the Church Triumphant hereafter, the Apostle, according to his custom after such meditations on the wondrous ways of God, begins a prayer of thanksgiving on behalf of the “Ephesians”; but he has only begun (ver. 1a) when he is somehow reminded of his chains and what has made him a prisoner for Christ, and this causes him to digress (ver. 1b-13) to consider the part he has played in the realization of God’s eternal purpose to unite all the nations of the world in the one spiritual fold of Christ, and to unfold again the unsearchable wisdom of God hidden in the purpose of that divine mystery and age-old secret. For a parallel parenthesis see Rom 5:13-18.

Eph 3:1. For this cause, I Paul the prisoner of Jesus Christ, for you Gentiles;

For this cause, a phrase repeated again in Eph 3:14, where Paul resumes his prayer; it refers back to what he has been saying in Eph 2:11-22.

I Paul is a characteristic way of introducing himself when he is about to treat matters of grave importance or defend his authority (cf. 2 Cor. 10:1; Gal. 5:2; Col. 1:23; 1 Thess. 2:18; Phlm. 9, 19). St. Chrysostom would insert “am” here after Paul, so as to read: “I Paul am the prisoner, etc.” But if this were the meaning, the article before “prisoner” in Greek should be omitted. Hence, it is better with Theodoret, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and all modern interpreters to recognize the break in the sentence here and its resumption at Eph 3:14.

The prisoner, etc., i.e., a prisoner according to the will of his Master, and for the cause of his Master (Phlm. 1, 9; 2 Tim. 1:8).

For you Gentiles, i.e., on behalf of you Gentiles, for preaching to you the Messianic salvation and admitting you on a level with the Jews in the Church of Christ (cf. Acts 21:21 ff.).

Eph 3:2. If at least you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me towards you

If at least you have heard. Abbott and many others hold that these words prove that St. Paul was addressing readers personally unknown to him. Westcott thinks there is nothing in the words to sustain such a conclusion. Moule believes we have here “a phrase of almost irony, an illusion to well- known fact under the disguise of hypothesis.” Alexander says the words are expressive of gentle assurance. As a compromise, Robinson holds they mean that some, at least, of the readers were personally unknown to the Apostle. Hitchcock explains that St. Paul first had the intention of writing to the Ephesians, as he had written to the Colossians, but that his outlook changed as he wrote, embracing the Churches of the Lycus Valley and other Gentiles. Voste would translate: “Since indeed you have heard, etc.” If we explain the words as conditional, as in Eph 4:21, we still may hold that they are rhetorical,
not implying any real doubt. A few number of ancient manuscripts and some church fathers witness to the fact that this letter may not have been addressed specifically to the Ephesians since the manuscripts in question had no addressee. Some scholars believe that “Ephesians” was actually written as a circular letter, intended to be delivered and read to a number of different churches and, therefore, originally lacked a specific addressee. Some phrasing in the letter (such as the current verse and 1:15) can be taken as indicating that St Paul was not directly acquainted with the people he is writing to, but Paul was intimately acquainted with the Ephesians.

The dispensation of the grace, etc., better, “the stewardship of the grace, etc.” The Messianic Kingdom is a reign of grace, and St. Paul was designated by Christ to be His steward in dispensing the Messianic grace to the Gentiles. Cf. 1 Cor 9:17; Col 1:24-25.

Eph 3:3. How that, according to revelation, the mystery has been made known to me, as I have written above in a few words;

The Apostle now begins to explain how the mystery of grace was made known to him, that is, his apostleship among the Gentiles, as he has explained above in Eph 2:11 ff.

How. The Vulg. quoniam should be quomodo, used to indicate the object of St. Paul’s ministry, namely, that the Gentiles were to be fellow-heirs, etc. (ver. 6).

According to revelation, made to Paul directly on the road to Damascus at the time of hisv conversion, and elsewhere later on (Acts 9:4 ff.; Gal 1:12, 2:2; 2 Cor 12:1, 7, etc).

The mystery, i.e., the purpose of God to save Gentiles as well as Jews through Christ (ver. 5, 6).

As I have written, etc., in this letter (Eph 1:4-14, 2:4-9, 11-22).

Eph 3:4. Whereby, as you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ,

Whereby, as you read, etc. The meaning is that, as they read what he has already written in the first two Chapters of this letter, they will perceive his deep insight into God’s world-purpose as revealed in the Incarnation of His Son, namely, the salvation of the world by means of the cross and the incorporation of the Gentiles with the Chosen People.

5. Which in other generations was not known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit

Which eternal purpose and deep mystery was never before known to mankind as it is now revealed in the Gospel by means of a special revelation communicated to chosen Apostles and prophets whom the Holy Ghost has inspired and set apart in order that they may make it known to the world.

Was not known, at all to the pagan world, and was only dimly shadowed forth among the Chosen People, the most of whom did not understand it.

Sons of men is a Hebraism meaning all men.

Holy apostles, etc., i.e., men especially selected and consecrated for their supernatural work, but not necessarily sanctified personally. That there is question here only of New Testament prophets is clear from the phrase “now revealed.”

In the Spirit, i.e., in the Holy Ghost, by whom the human mediums were inspired.

6. That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and co-partners of the promise in Christ Jesus, by the gospel

St. Paul now gives a brief definition of the content of the longhidden mystery in so far as it pertained to the Gentiles, namely, that God has made the Gentiles equal to the Jews as regards salvation; they are now “fellow-heirs” with the Jews to heaven, members of the same mystical body, the Church, sharers in the same high destiny “in Christ” (i.e., in vital union with Him), which was long ago promised to Abraham and his offspring (Gen 12:3; Gal 3:8, 4:29; Rom 4:13, 16), and is now made manifest in the preaching of the Gospel.

His promise of the Douai should be “the promise,” according to the best Greek and Latin texts.

Eph 3:7. Of which I am made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God, which is given to me, according to the operation of his power.

The Apostle begins now to speak of the mission that has been entrusted to him, the dispensation spoken of above in Eph 3:2. He has been made a “minister” of the Gospel, not by his own choice or because of his merits, but by a gratuitous gift of divine grace, which made an Apostle out of a persecutor and gave him invincible strength to pursue his vocation. The grace here referred to was a gratia gratis data, a divine gift to be used for the benefit of others.

According to . . . according to. Note the parallelism: divine grace made him a minister of the Gospel, and divine grace sustains him in his work for the Gospel; his vocation was a divine gift, and his labors were the result of a divine operation, of God-given working power. Cf. Col. 1:29; Gal. 2:8.

Eph 3:8. To me, the least of all the saints, is given this grace, to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,

Here and in the following verse St. Paul will speak of the purpose of his preaching.

To me. The thought of the greatness of the mission confided to him by the grace of God reminds the humble Apostle of his personal unworthiness and insignificance.

The least in the Greek is a word probably coined by the Apostle himself, which literally means “leaster,” or “more least.”

Of all the saints, i.e., of all the Christians (cf. 1 Cor. 15:8-9).

St. Paul never forgets his past life as a persecutor, and the more he realizes the greatness of the grace of God bestowed on him, the more clearly his own unworthiness appears.

To preach, etc. Behold the grace and the mission vouchsafed to Paul, to announce to the Gentile world the infinite treasures of divine truth, love and power, which God has provided for mankind through Jesus Christ.

Unsearchable, literally, “untrackable by footprints,” untraceable, a word found only here and in Rom. 11:33 in all the New Testament; it means incomprehensible. So vast are the treasures of grace hidden in the Gospel and confided to the Church that they utterly transcend our powers of understanding.

Eph 3:9. And to enlighten all men that they may see what is the dispensation of the mystery which hath been hidden from eternity in God, who created all things:

To enlighten, etc. Such was the further effect of Paul’s preaching of the Gospel, to make known to all men the divine plan, hidden from eternity, of saving the whole world by means of the human life, labors, sufferings, death, and glorious resurrection of the eternal Son of God made man.

All men. The Greek word is omitted by some ancient MSS. and good authorities, but the weight of authority favors its retention.

Hidden from eternity, etc. Not until the coming of Christ, the Messiah, was the divine economy relative to the salvation of men actually and completely made known; till then it was known in its fullness only to the Godhead.

Who created all things. The Apostle adds this to remind his readers that He who was able to create all things through the Son in the beginning is now able to redeem all through the Son. Some lesser authorities add, “by means of Jesus Christ,” which may be rejected as a gloss, Cf. Col. 1:25-27 for a parallel passage to verses 8 and 9 here.

Eph 3:10. That now the manifold wisdom of God may be made known to the principalities and powers in heavenly places through the church,

As it was the purpose of the preaching of Paul to make known to the nations the revelation of the mystery hidden in God from eternity (ver. 8-9), so in turn was it the purpose of that revelation to make known to the world the unsearchable riches of the Messiah and His stewardship, hidden from the beginning in the Creator (ver. 10-11), that is, “that now” (in contrast to the ages that preceded the coming of the Christ) “the manifold wisdom of God, etc.” (i.e., the many-sided and infinitely varied wisdom of God in providing for the salvation of man through the Incarnation of the Son of God) might be made known through the Church to the world of angelic intelligences, including both the good and the evil angels.

Now (Vulg. nunc), omitted in the Douai, is expressed in the Greek.

Manifold. Literally, “much variegated.” The word is found here only in the New Testament.

Principalities and powers, i.e., good and bad angels, according to St. Chrysostom and the evidence of Eph 6:12 below (cf. also Eph 1:21 above).

In the heavenly places. See on Eph 1:3. Through the church, in which the divided human family has been united, and which contains and dispenses the treasures of grace, thus continuing the work of the Redeemer till the end of time in the sight of men and angels. “It is by no means repugnant that through the work of Christ, which the Church continues and carries out to the end of the present world, the infinite riches of the wisdom and mercy of the Redeemer should be successively manifested to the angels themselves” (St. Thomas, h. 1.).

Eph 3:11. According to the eternal purpose, which he made in Christ Jesus, our Lord:

According to the eternal purpose, etc., literally, “according to the purpose of the ages, etc.” The manifold wisdom of God was hidden in the eternal purpose; and that purpose, running through the whole course of the ages, has now been “made” (i.e., realized) in “Christ Jesus, our Lord,” sacrificed, risen, and enthroned forever as the center and Sovereign of the universe; and with the realization of the purpose the multifarious wisdom of God has been made known in part already, and is continually being unfolded to men and angels down to the end of the world. It is disputed whether the words, “which he made,” refer to the decree which God made from eternity regarding future ages, etc., or to the execution of that decree in time; but the context seems to favor the latter explanation.

Eph 3:12. In whom we have boldness, and access with confidence by the faith of him.

St. Paul has just discussed the purpose of God’s revelation made known through the preaching of that revelation, which was to disclose to heavenly intelligences the manifold wisdom of God, as realized in Christ. Now, in verses 12-13, he will treat of the consequences of that same revelation. The first of these consequences is that in Christ, that is, by reason of our mystical union with Him, “we have boldness, etc.,” i.e., we now enjoy freedom of speech and
communication with the Father, “and access” (i.e., introduction) to Him, not in fear, but in confidence (Rom. 8:38 ff.), and this through the faith we have in Christ.

The faith of him means the faith we have “in Him,” as we know from similar constructions in Mark 11:22; Gal. 2:16, 3:22; Rom. 3:22, 26; Phil. 3:9.

Eph 3:13. Wherefore I pray you not to faint at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

Another consequence of the revelation preached by Paul is the sufferings it brought upon him; but here he prays that his readers may not grow remiss and faint-hearted as a result of the afflictions he has to endure for preaching the Gospel to them; for his sufferings are their glory, inasmuch as they are an evidence of God’s love for them, since God was willing to permit His Apostle to endure so much for their sakes: the privileges they enjoy and the afflictions Paul has undergone that they might have those privileges indicate how dear they are to God.

Wherefore, i.e., in view of your dignity and privileges, resulting from God’s eternal decree realized in Christ.

I pray. This is more probably to be understood of a real prayer to God for the Apostle’s readers, as we gather from the similar use of the verb in Eph. 3:20 and Col. 1:9.

Not to faint should not be interpreted as applying to the Apostle himself, who gloried in his tribulations and declared that nothing could separate him from the love of Christ (Rom. 5:3, 8:38-39; 2 Cor. 12:10; Col. 1:24), but to his readers, to whose glory it was that he had to suffer, and who therefore should not be discouraged.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Ephesians 2:11-22

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 16, 2017

THE GENTILES, TOGETHER WITH THE JEWS, ARE CALLED TO SHARE IN THE BLESSINGS OF CHRIST IN THE ONE CHURCH

A summary of  Eph 2:11-22~St. Paul’s pagan converts will better understand the exalted life to which they have been elevated in the Church of Christ, if they first recall their former miserable condition as Gentiles, then reflect on the benefits they now enjoy, and finally compare their present with their former state.

Eph 2:11. For which cause be mindful that you, being heretofore Gentiles in the flesh, who are called uncircumcision by that which is called circumcision in the flesh, made by hands:

For which cause (i.e., since you have been redeemed without any merit on your part) be mindful, etc. (i.e., remember your former deplorable condition when you were “Gentiles in the flesh,” that is, without even any external sign, like circumcision, of belonging to God), when you were contemptuously called the “uncircumcision” by those who were “called circumcision in the flesh”—that is, by the Jews, who bore on their bodies the external mark of belonging to the commonwealth of God, but in many of whom this physical mark was merely hand-made, and so without spiritual value, since it is the circumcision of the heart alone that counts in the sight of God (Rom. 2:29; Col. 2:11).

Eph 2:12. That you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the conversation of Israel, and strangers to the covenants, having no hope in the promise, and without God in this world.

The Apostle continues the thought broken off after the phrase, “be mindful that you” (verse 11). The Gentiles before their conversion to Christianity were “without Christ” (i.e., apart from Christ), inasmuch as they had not the Scriptures and prophecies which contained the Messianic promises of a coming Redeemer; they were “aliens, etc.,” as being excluded from the theocratic kingdom and from the family of God’s chosen people; they were “strangers to the covenants” (i.e., to the promises of a Messiah made by God to Abraham and renewed to Isaac, Jacob, David, etc.); they were without “hope in the promise” of a Redeemer to come, and hence their best writers and philosophers all expressed the prevalent thoughts and sentiments of sadness and despair, the deep unhappiness at their existing state and the hopeless darkness of the future outlook, holding that the best thing that could happen to man was never to be born, and the next best thing was to die (cf. Mommsen, Hist, of Rome, Eng. trans., vol. IV, p. 586); they were “without God in this world” (i.e., without a correct knowledge of the true God in a dark and sinful world), having obscured by their sins the natural light of reason, and being devoid of the positive divine revelation which the Jews possessed.

Eph 2:13. But now in Christ Jesus, you, who some time were afar off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

The Apostle has just briefly reviewed the sad state of the Gentiles before their conversion to Christianity (ver. 11-12). Now he will speak of their new and glorious condition as Christians, and of the peace they enjoy in the Messianic Kingdom (ver. 13-18).  Formerly they were without Christ, but now they are “in Christ” (i.e., living intimately united to the promised Messiah and in union with “Jesus,” the Saviour of mankind). In their previous condition as pagans, they “were afar off” from the kingdom of God, being outside the citizenship of Israel and the covenants of promise; but now they “are made nigh, etc.” (i.e., they have been incorporated in Christ by membership in His Church, through the merits of the passion and death of Jesus). It was Christ’s blood offered in sacrifice for them, as for the whole world, that merited for these Gentile converts their redemption and the consequent peace they now enjoy in the Church of Christ: “This is my blood of the new covenant, which shall be shed for many unto the remission of sins” (Matt 26:28; Heb 9:12 ff.). The Apostle will now show how this has been done by the pacifying work of Christ.

Eph 2:14. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and breaking down the middle wall of partition, the enmity in his flesh:

For he is our peace. Isaias (9:6) foretold that the Messiah should be the Prince of peace. And Christ is said to be our peace, first because, through the abrogation of the Mosaic Law with its statutes and precepts, He has destroyed the barrier that made enmity between Jew and Gentile (ver. 14-15); and secondly because He has reconciled men with God by forgiving their sins (ver. 16). Thus, He “hath made both one” (i.e., He has made the Jewish and the Gentile sections of the human race one community), not by making Gentiles Jews, but by elevating both to the supernatural order and producing, as it were, a new race called Christians. The “middle wall of partition” refers to the Mosaic Law which kept the Jews separated from the Gentiles and was the cause of the enmity that existed between them. The figure here was likely suggested by the stone wall which separated the Court of the Gentiles from the Temple Court of the Israelites. Any Gentile who dared to trespass beyond this wall incurred the penalty of death.

Enmity. This word is more probably to be taken in apposition to “middle wall of partition,” and it signifies the reality of which that wall was a figure. This enmity and its cause Christ has been broken down and removed “in his flesh” (i.e., by means of His passion and death).

Eph 2:15. Making void the law of commandments contained in decrees; that he might make the two in himself into one new man, making peace;

Some expositors connect “in his flesh” of the preceding verse with what follows here; but this does not affect the sense, since it was by His passion and death that Christ both removed the barrier between Jews and Gentiles and abrogated the Law with its statutes and precepts.

Making void, etc., by abrogating the Mosaic Law which contained numerous commands and ceremonies regarding foods, feasts, etc.„ all of which were calculated to isolate Israel from the rest of the world, and were figures or types of realities to come. With the advent, therefore, of Christ and the Gospel these ancient precepts and ceremonies were abrogated, as the shadow vanishes with the appearance of the light (cf. Col 2:14-20). It must be understood, of course, that the moral precepts of the Mosaic Law did not cease; they were rather perfected and confirmed (Matt 5:17; cf. Rom 3:31; 1 Cor 3:14).

That he might make, etc. (better, “in order to create, etc.”). The purpose was not merely to unite Jew and Gentile, but from the two to create a new human type that should be neither Jew nor Gentile, but Christian. The Apostle uses the masculine plural here (τους δυο), because there is now question of two men, Jew and Gentile, and not of two systems, Judaism and heathendom, as in ver. 14 where the Greek neuter is used. The justification or sanctification of a soul is as much a generation in the supernatural order as the production of the soul and the human organism is in the natural order (cf. 2 Cor 5:17).

In himself. Christ has united Jew and Gentile into one mystical body of which He is the head and life-giving source, thus “making peace” between them.

Eph 2:16. And might reconcile both to God in one body by the cross, killing the enmity in himself.

A further purpose of the propitiatory death of Christ was to reconcile both Jew and Gentile to God by means of the sacrifice of the cross, having destroyed by His own suffering the enmity that existed between them, and having united them both into one new man “in one body,” which is His Church.

In one body. By this phrase some understand the physical body of Christ affixed to the cross ; but others with greater probability take the phrase to refer to the mystical body of Christ, the Church.

In himself should more likely be “in it,” the reference being to the cross (εν εαυτω), rather than to Christ. The Greek, however, can refer to either Christ or the cross (cf. Col 1:19-22).

Eph 2:17. And coming, he preached peace to you that were afar off, and peace to them that were nigh.

And when the Saviour came into this world, He preached first in person to the Jews, and then through His Apostles to the Gentiles, the Gospel of peace among all men and reconciliation to God. The Gentiles were said to be “afar off,” because they were without the Law and the special revelation which the Jews possessed, and in consequence of which the latter were said to be “nigh.” The perfect peace which Christ brought to the world, and of which He spoke at the Last Supper (John 14:27, 16:33), rests on perfect justice; and hence, as St. Thomas says, it is impossible to have peace without justice. This peace of Christ which we enjoy is the fruit of our reconciliation with God, and the cause of it the Apostle will now explain in the following verse.

Eph 2:18. For by him we have access both in one Spirit to the Father.

Christ is our peace, and He has given us peace because through Him we, Jews and Gentiles, have been freed from our sins, animated by the Holy Ghost, reconciled to God, and thus introduced to the Father. Note the mention here of the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. It is more probable that the word “access” here should be given an active transitive sense, and so should be translated “introduction,” because we have not ourselves come into the
presence of the Father, but Christ has introduced us; “we do not come in our own strength, but need an introduction—Christ” (Sanday, on Romans v. 1-2).

Robinson and some others understand “one Spirit” here to refer to oneness of mind and heart among the Christians; but as the unity of the body results from the unity of the head, so the unity and concord of the faithful come from the unity of the Spirit by which they are animated. Thus, this second explanation is included in the first, and presupposes it.

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

In verses 19-22 St. Paul will show the difference between the present and the former state of the Gentiles and their existing perfect equality with the Jews. He will illustrate this equality of Gentiles with Jews in the Christian commonwealth by several different metaphors—by a city or state, in which they enjoy the rights of naturalized citizens; by a household, in which they are members of God’s family; by a building, of which they and the Jews are the living stones and Christ the chief cornerstone.

Now therefore. The Apostle is going to draw a conclusion from what he has just been saying in the preceding verses.

You are no more strangers, to the covenants of the promise (ver. 12), and foreigners, i.e., aliens, without the rights of citizenship in the spiritual commonwealth of God; but you are fellow citizens, etc., i.e., full members of the mystical body of Christ and of the household of God, together with those of Jewish origin; you are all now inmates of the Father’s house in Christ.

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

Built, etc., or better, “having been built upon the apostles and prophets” of the New Testament as a moral foundation, with “Jesus Christ himself” as the chief cornerstone of that foundation, who thus gives coherence and fixity to it and to the whole superstructure erected upon it. Having spoken at the end of ver. 19 of the inmates of the household of God, the Apostle in this verse passes to the building itself. The past tense of the verb here shows that the Gentiles became fellow-citizens in the New Jerusalem and members of God’s family at the time of their conversion (Hitchcock, op. cit., h. I.). It is more probable that the “foundation” here refers to the apostles and prophets themselves, than to the doctrine they preached (1 Cor 3:10), since they are paralleled by “Jesus Christ” which follows. Nor is it likely that we should take Christ as the foundation here, as in 1 Cor 3:11, since just below He is said to be the “chief cornerstone.” We are likewise to understand “apostles and prophets” to refer to the New Testament teachers and ministers of the Word (Acts 11:28, 15:32; 1 Cor 14), rather than to the Prophets of the Old Testament, as we judge from the order of the words here, from the fact that both nouns are preceded by only one article in Greek, from the parallel passages in Eph 3:5 and 4:11, where the reference is certainly to New Testament prophets, etc. On the other hand, it is true that the Old Testament Prophets are frequently regarded in the New Testament as Evangelists before the time (Luke 24:25; Acts 3:18, 21, 24, 10:43; Rom 16:26).

Eph 2:21. In whom the whole building, being fitly framed together, groweth up into a holy sanctuary in the Lord.

In whom (i.e., in which cornerstone, namely, Christ) the whole building (i.e., every part of the Church, becoming more intensely and solidly united, part with part and all the parts with the foundation and head) groweth—i.e., becomes ever more and more extended, as living stones are prepared and laid on living stones (1 pET 2:5), rising to completion and perfection-into a holy sanctuary, worthy of the divine presence that dwells therein (cf. Apoc 21:22), in the Lord (i.e., in Christ, who is the living bond of unity, coherence, growth, and sanctity of the entire Church). We have given what we consider the best and most probable rendering of the passage, “the whole building, being fitly framed together,” the Greek of which is difficult and is variously translated.

“Sanctuary” (Gr., ναον= NAOS), the more sacred part of the Temple, where the divine presence is especially manifested, as distinguished from the courts and outer area (ἱερόν = HIERON).

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

In whom. The reference is again to Christ, the cornerstone.

You also, i.e., you Gentile readers of this Epistle.

Are built. Better, “are being builded” together with the rest of the Christians. The present tense is used in Greek, showing that the process is going on but is not yet complete; the Church is becoming more extended without and more united within as it gradually approaches its perfection and its goal as a permanent habitation for the Divine Presence in its glorified state hereafter.

Into a habitation is parallel to “into a holy sanctuary” above, and the thought is that of a building that is being perfected as an abiding dwelling place for God in the world to come, where “God shall be all in all” (1 Cor 15:28).

In the Spirit, i.e., in the Holy Ghost, “who sanctifieth the elect of God.” “In the Spirit” is parallel to “in the Lord” of the preceding verse, and hence it is to be interpreted of the Spirit of God. The Church is built on the Son, by the Holy Ghost, for the Father; and the description here given of it by St. Paul, from the revelation he had received, began with a reference to the Messianic Kingdom of the Old Dispensation (ver. 11-12), then proceeded to a reflection on the peace now enjoyed in the Messianic Kingdom of the New Dispensation (ver. 13-18), and finally terminates (ver. 19-22) with a vision of the Messianic Kingdom of the New Jerusalem, where a manifestation of the glory to come (Rom 8:18), supreme and unimaginable, awaits all those who by perseverance in faith and good works are destined to be heirs of the riches of God in heaven.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Ephesians 1:20-23

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 15, 2017

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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Father Callan’s Commentary on Ephesians 1:15-19

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 15, 2017

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

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 22, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 20, 2016

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

Blessed, i.e., worthy of praise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 6, 2015

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

 A SUMMARY OF EPHESIANS CHAPTER 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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