7. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
7. In quo habemus redemptionem per sangiunem ejus, remissionem peccatorum, secundum divitias gratiae ejus;
8. Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
8. Qua exundavit in nos in omni sapientia et prudentia;
9. Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself:
9. Patefacto nobis arcano voluntatis suae, secundum beneplacitum suum, quod in seipso proposuerat.
10. That, in the dispensation of the fullness 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:
10. In dispensationem plenitudinis temporum; ut recolligeret omnia in Christo, tam quae in coelis sunt, quam quae super terram, in ipso.
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;
11. Per quem etiam in sortem adsciti sumus, praedestinati secundum propositum ejus, qui omnia efficit secundum consilium voluntatis suae;
12. That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
12. Ut simus in laudem gloriae ipsius, nos qui ante speravimus in Christo.
7. In whom we have redemption. The apostle is still illustrating the material cause, -- the manner in which we are reconciled to God through Christ. By his death he has restored us to favor with the Father; and therefore we ought always to direct our minds to the blood of Christ, as the means by which we obtain divine grace. After mentioning that, through the blood of Christ, we obtain redemption, he immediately styles it the forgiveness of sins, -- to intimate that we are redeemed, because our sins are not imputed to us. Hence it follows, that we obtain by free grace that righteousness by which we are accepted of God, and freed from the chains of the devil and of death. The close connection which is here preserved, between our redemption itself and the manner in which it is obtained, deserves our notice; for, so long as we remain exposed to the judgment of God, we are bound by miserable chains, and therefore our exemption from guilt, becomes an invaluable freedom.
According to the riches of his grace. He now returns to the efficient cause, -- the largeness of the divine kindness, which has given Christ to us as our Redeemer. Riches, and the corresponding word overflow, in the following verse, are intended to give us large views of divine grace. The apostle feels himself unable to celebrate, in a proper manner, the goodness of God, and desires that the contemplation of it would occupy the minds of men till they are entirely lost in admiration. How desirable is it that men were deeply impressed with |the riches of that grace| which is here commended! No place would any longer be found for pretended satisfactions, or for those trifles by which the world vainly imagines that it can redeem itself; as if the blood of Christ, when unsupported by additional aid, had lost all its efficacy.
8. In all wisdom. He now comes to the formal cause, the preaching of the gospel, by which the goodness of God overflows upon us. It is through faith that we receive Christ, by whom we come to God, and by whom we enjoy the privilege of adoption. Paul gives to the gospel the magnificent appellations of wisdom and prudence, for the purpose of leading the Ephesians to despise all contrary doctrines. The false apostles insinuated themselves, under the pretense of imparting views more elevated than the elementary instructions which Paul conveyed. And the devil, in order to undermine our faith, labors, as far as he can, to disparage the gospel. Paul, on the other hand, builds up the authority of the gospel, that believers may rest upon it with unshaken confidence. All wisdom means -- full or perfect wisdom.
9. Having made known to us the mystery of his will. Some were alarmed at the novelty of his doctrine. With a view to such persons, he very properly denominates it a mystery of the divine will, and yet a mystery which God has now been pleased to reveal. As he formerly ascribed their election, so he now ascribes their calling, to the good pleasure of God. The Ephesians are thus led to consider that Christ has been made known, and the gospel preached to them, not because they deserved any such thing, but because it pleased God.
Which he hath purposed in himself. All is wisely and properly arranged. What can be more just than that his purposes, with which men are unacquainted, should be known to God alone, so long as he is pleased to conceal them, -- or, again, that it should be in his own will and power to fix the time when they shall be communicated to men? The decree to adopt the Gentiles is declared to have been till now hidden in the mind of God, but so hidden, that God reserved it in his own power until the time of the revelation. Does any one now complain of it as a new and unprecedented occurrence, that those who were formerly |without God in the world,| (Ephesians 2:12,) should be received into the church? Will he have the hardihood to deny that the knowledge of God is greater than that of men?
10. That in the dispensation of the fullness of times. That no man may inquire, why one time rather than another was selected, the apostle anticipates such curiosity, by calling the appointed period the fullness of times, the fit and proper season, as he also did in a former epistle. (Galatians 4:4) Let human presumption restrain itself, and, in judging of the succession of events, let it bow to the providence of God. The same lesson is taught by the word dispensation, for by the judgment of God the lawful administration of all events is regulated.
That he might gather together in one. In the old translation it is rendered (instaurare) restore; to which Erasmus has added (summatim) comprehensively. I have chosen to abide closely by the meaning of the Greek word, anakephalaiosasthai, because it is more agreeable to the context. The meaning appears to me to be, that out of Christ all things were disordered, and that through him they have been restored to order. And truly, out of Christ, what can we perceive in the world but mere ruins? We are alienated from God by sin, and how can we but present a broken and shattered aspect? The proper condition of creatures is to keep close to God. Such a gathering together (anakephalaiosis) as might bring us back to regular order, the apostle tells us, has been made in Christ. Formed into one body, we are united to God, and closely connected with each other. Without Christ, on the other hand, the whole world is a shapeless chaos and frightful confusion. We are brought into actual unity by Christ alone.
But why are heavenly beings included in the number? The angels were never separated from God, and cannot be said to have been scattered. Some explain it in this manner. Angels are said to be gathered together, because men have become members of the same society, are admitted equally with them to fellowship with God, and enjoy happiness in common with them by means of this blessed unity. The mode of expression is supposed to resemble one frequently used, when we speak of a whole building as repaired, many parts of which were ruinous or decayed, though some parts remained entire.
This is no doubt true; but what hinders us from saying that the angels also have been gathered together? Not that they were ever scattered, but their attachment to the service of God is now perfect, and their state is eternal. What comparison is there between a creature and the Creator, without the interposition of a Mediator? So far as they are creatures, had it not been for the benefit which they derived from Christ, they would have been liable to change and to sin, and consequently their happiness would not have been eternal. Who then will deny that both angels and men have been brought back to a fixed order by the grace of Christ? Men had been lost, and angels were not beyond the reach of danger. By gathering both into his own body, Christ hath united them to God the Father, and established actual harmony between heaven and earth.
11. Through whom also we have obtained an inheritance. Hitherto he has spoken generally of all the elect; he now begins to take notice of separate classes. When he says, WE have obtained, he speaks of himself and of the Jews, or, perhaps more correctly, of all who were the first fruits of Christianity; and afterwards he comes to the Ephesians. It tended not a little to confirm the faith of the Ephesian converts, that he associated them with himself and the other believers, who might be said to be the first-born in the church. As if he had said, |The condition of all godly persons is the same with yours; for we who were first called by God owe our acceptance to his eternal election.| Thus, he shews, that, from first to last, all have obtained salvation by free grace, because they have been freely adopted according to eternal election.
Who worketh all things. The circumlocution employed in describing the Supreme Being deserves attention. He speaks of Him as the sole agent, and as doing everything according to His own will, so as to leave nothing to be done by man. In no respect, therefore, are men admitted to share in this praise, as if they brought anything of their own. God looks at nothing out of himself to move him to elect them, for the counsel of his own will is the only and actual cause of their election. This may enable us to refute the error, or rather the madness, of those who, whenever they are unable to discover the reason of God's works, exclaim loudly against his design.
12. That we should be to the praise of his glory. Here again he mentions the final cause of salvation; for we must eventually become illustrations of the glory of God, if we are nothing but vessels of his mercy. The word glory, by way of eminence, (kat ' exochen) denotes, in a peculiar manner, that which shines in the goodness of God; for there is nothing that is more peculiarly his own, or in which he desires more to be glorified, than goodness.