Bible Commentary

Ephesians 1

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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Verse 1

[1] Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

By the will of God — Not by any merit of my own.

To the saints who are at Ephesus — And in all the adjacent places. For this epistle is not directed to the Ephesians only, but likewise to all the other churches of Asia.

Verse 3

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

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us — God's blessing us is his bestowing all spiritual and heavenly blessings upon us. Our blessing God is the paying him our solemn and grateful acknowledgments, both on account of his own essential blessedness, and of the blessings which he bestows upon us. He is the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, as man and Mediator: he is his Father, primarily, with respect to his divine nature, as his only begotten Son; and, secondarily, with respect to his human nature, as that is personally united to the divine.

With all spiritual blessings in heavenly things — With all manner of spiritual blessings, which are heavenly in their nature, original, and tendency, and shall be completed in heaven: far different from the external privileges of the Jews, and the earthly blessings they expected from the Messiah.

Verse 4

[4] According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

As he hath chosen us — Both Jews and gentiles, whom he foreknew as believing in Christ, 1 Peter 1:2.

Verse 5

[5] Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

Having predestinated us to the adoption of sons — Having foreordained that all who afterwards believed should enjoy the dignity of being sons of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.

According to the good pleasure of his will — According to his free, fixed, unalterable purpose to confer this blessing on all those who should believe in Christ, and those only.

Verse 6

[6] To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

To the praise of the glory of his grace — His glorious, free love without any desert on our part.

Verse 7

[7] In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

By whom we — Who believe.

Have — From the moment we believe.

Redemption — From the guilt and power of sin.

Through his blood — Through what he hath done and suffered for us.

According to the riches of his grace — According to the abundant overflowings of his free mercy and favour.

Verse 8

[8] Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

In all wisdom — Manifested by God in the whole scheme of our salvation.

And prudence — Which be hath wrought in us, that we may know and do all his acceptable and perfect will.

Verse 9

[9] Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

Having made known to us — By his word and by his Spirit.

The mystery of his will — The gracious scheme of salvation by faith, which depends on his own sovereign will alone. This was but darkly discovered under the law; is now totally hid from unbelievers; and has heights and depths which surpass all the knowledge even of true believers.

Verse 10

[10] That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

That in the dispensation of the fullness of the times — In this last administration of God's fullest grace, which took place when the time appointed was fully come.

He might gather together into one in Christ — Might recapitulate, re-unite, and place in order again under Christ, their common Head.

All things which are in heaven, and on earth — All angels and men, whether living or dead, in the Lord.

Verse 11

[11] In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

Through whom we — Jews.

Also have obtained an inheritance — The glorious inheritance of the heavenly Canaan, to which, when believers, we were predestinated according to the purpose of him that worketh all things after the counsel of his own will - The unalterable decree, "He that believeth shall be delivered;" which will is not an arbitrary will, but flowing from the rectitude of his nature, else, what security would there be that it would be his will to keep his word even with the elect?

Verse 12

[12] That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

That we — Jews.

Who first believed — Before the gentiles. So did some of them in every place. Here is another branch of the true gospel predestination: he that believes is not only elected to salvation, (if he endures to the end,) but is fore-appointed of God to walk in holiness, to the praise of his glory.

Verse 13

[13] In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

In whom ye — Gentiles.

Likewise believed, after ye had heard the gospel — Which God made the means of your salvation; in whom after ye had believed - Probably some time after their first believing.

Ye were sealed by that Holy Spirit of promise — Holy both in his nature and in his operations, and promised to all the children of God. The sealing seems to imply, 1. A full impression of the image of God on their souls. 2. A full assurance of receiving all the promises, whether relating to time or eternity.

Verse 14

[14] Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Who, thus sealing us, is an earnest - Both a pledge and a foretaste of our inheritance.

Till the redemption of the purchased possession — Till the church, which he has purchased with his own blood, shall be fully delivered from all sin and sorrow, and advanced to everlasting glory.

To the praise of his glory — Of his glorious wisdom, power, and mercy.

Verse 15

[15] Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,

Since I heard of your faith and love — That is, of their perseverance and increase therein.

Verse 16

[16] Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;

I cease not — In all my solemn addresses to God.

To give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers — So he did of all the churches, Colossians 1:9.

Verse 17

[17] That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:

That the Father of that infinite glory which shines in the face of Christ, from whom also we receive the glorious inheritance, Ephesians 1:18, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation - The same who is the Spirit of promise is also, in the progress of the faithful, the Spirit of wisdom and revelation; making them wise unto salvation, and revealing to them the deep things of God. He is here speaking of that wisdom and revelation which are common to all real Christians.

Verse 18

[18] The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

The eyes of your understanding — It is with these alone that we discern the things of God. Being first opened, and then enlightened - - By his Spirit.

That ye may know what is the hope of his calling — That ye may experimentally and delightfully know what are the blessings which God has called you to hope for by his word and his Spirit.

And what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints — What an immense treasure of blessedness he hath provided as an inheritance for holy souls.

Verse 19

[19] And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,

And what the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe — Both in quickening our dead souls, and preserving them in spiritual life.

According to the power which he exerted in Christ, raising him from the dead — By the very same almighty power whereby he raised Christ; for no less would suffice.

Verse 20

[20] Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

And he hath seated him at his own right hand — That is, he hath exalted him in his human nature, as a recompence for his sufferings, to a quiet, everlasting possession of all possible blessedness, majesty, and glory.

Verse 21

[21] Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:

Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion — That is, God hath invested him with uncontrollable authority over all demons in hell, all angels in heaven, and all the princes and potentates on earth.

And every name that is named — We know the king is above all, though we cannot name all the officers of his court. So we know that Christ is above all, though we are not able to name all his subjects.

Not only in this world, but also in that which is to come — The world to come is so styled, not because it does not yet exist, but because it is not yet visible. Principalities and powers are named now; but those also who are not even named in this world, but shall be revealed in the world to come, are all subject to Christ.

Verse 22

[22] And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

And he hath given him to be head over all things to the church — An head both of guidance and government, and likewise of life and influence, to the whole and every member of it. All these stand in the nearest union with him, and have as continual and effectual a communication of activity, growth, and strength from him, as the natural body from its head.

Verse 23

[23] Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

The fulness of him that filleth all in all — It is hard to say in what sense this can be spoken of the church; but the sense is easy and natural, if we refer it to Christ, who is the fulness of the Father.

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