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[1]The word translated "faithful" might be rendered "believers." It is used as a term of superscription both here and in the epistle to the Colossians. We must remember that the apostle was now in prison, and that Christianity had been established for some years, and was exposed to all kinds of attack. To say that one was a believer as at the beginning, was to say that he was faithful. The word then does not merely express that they believed, nor that each individual walked faithfully, but that the apostle addressed himself to those who by grace faithfully maintained the faith they had received.

[2]It will be a grand spectacle, as the result of the ways of God, to see all things united in perfect peace and union under the authority of man, of the second Adam, the Son of God; ourselves associated with Him in the same glory with Himself, His companions in the heavenly glory, as the objects of the eternal counsels of God. I do not enlarge here upon this scene, because the chapter we are considering directs our attention to the communications of the counsels of God respecting it, and not to the scene itself. The eternal state, in which God is all in all, is again another thing. The administration of the fulness of tunes is the result of the ways of God in government; the eternal state, that of the perfection of His nature. We, even in the government, are brought in as sons according to His nature. Wonderful privilege!

[3]Compare chapter 4: 9, 10: and this introduction of redemption, and the place Christ has taken as Redeemer, as filling all in all, is full of interest.

[4]It is this power which, raising the saints with Christ from the death of sin, and uniting them to Him the head, forms their relationship to Him as His body. The first part of the chapter gave our individual relationship to the Father, in that Christ is the firstborn among many brethren. Here we come to corporate relationship to Christ, the last and risen man. Up to the second part of the prayer we have the counsels of God. From the latter part we have the operations of power to accomplish them. And it is here our union with Christ first comes in, which, though God's counsels as to it are revealed, yet spiritually is wrought now, as seen in chapter 5.

[5]Take especial notice here, that, in the Ephesians, the Spirit does not describe the life of the old man in sin. God and His own work are everything. Man is viewed as dead in his sins; that which is produced is therefore entirely of God, a new creation on His part. A man who lives in sin must die, must judge himself, must repent, by grace be cleansed; that is, he is dealt with as a living man. Here man is without any movement of spiritual life: God does everything; He quickens and raises up. It is a new creation.

[6]Faith, when taught by the word, always goes back to this: judgment refers to deeds done in the body. But we were dead in sins-no living movement of the heart towards God. We do not (John 5) come into judgment, but are passed from death unto life.

[7]Here it is a wholly new creation, and the new estate is looked at simply in itself. We were dead towards God in our old one. Man is not looked at here as alive in sins and responsible, but as entirely dead in them, and created again: hence in this part of the epistle we have no forgiveness, no justification. The man is notlooked at as a living responsible man. In Colossians we are risen with Christ, but "having forgiven you all trespasses" which Christ had borne in coming down into death. Here, too, we have not the old man, and death brought into it, though both walk and the old man are recognised as facts, though not in connection with resurrection. In Colossians we have; even when "dead in your sins" is spoken of, it is added, "and the uncircumcision of your flesh," for it is dead towards God. The epistle to the Romans looks at responsible man in the world; hence you have fully justification, death to sin, and no resurrection with Christ. The man is a living man here, though justified, and alive in Christ.

[8]It is not merely life communicated (that we had in Romans), but a totally new place and standing which we have taken, life having the character of resurrection out of a state of death in sins. And here we are not viewed as quickened by Christ, but quickened with Him. He is the raised and glorified man.

[9]In Colossians the saints are only seen risen with Christ, with a hope laid up for them in heaven, and are called to set their affections on things above, where Christ and their life with Him are hid. Moreover their resurrection with Christ is only an administrative one for this world in baptism, in connection with faith in the power which raised Christ. We have no union of Jews and Gentiles in Him as risen and in heavenly places. Indeed in Colossians, Gentiles only are before the mind of the apostle.

[10]I am quite aware of what critics have to say here as to gender; but it is equally true as to grace, and to say, "by grace . . . and that not of yourselves," is simply nonsense; but by faith might be supposed to be of ourselves, though grace cannot. Therefore the Spirit of God adds, "and that [not it] not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." That is, the believing is God's gift, not of ourselves. And this is confirmed by what follows, "not of works." But the object of the apostle is to shew that the whole thing was of grace and of God-God's workmanship-a new creation. So far, grace and faith and all go together.

[11]Not that God does not recognise the relationships He had originally formed-He does fully when we are in them; but the measure of the new creation is another thing

[12]It is exceedingly important in these days to see the difference between this progressive building, never complete till all believers who are to form Christ's body are gathered in, and the present temple of God on earth. In the former Christ is the builder. He carries it on without fail, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it. This is not yet complete nor viewed as a whole till built. Hence in the Epistles we never find a builder in this case: in Peter, "unto whom coming as to a living stone, ye also as living stones are built up"; so here, in Ephesians, it grows to a holy temple in the Lord. But, besides this, the present manifested professing body is looked at as a whole on earth; and man is looked at as building. "Ye are God's building" (1 Cor. 3). "I, as a wise masterbuilder, have laid the foundation: let every man take heed how he buildeth thereon." Man's responsibility comes in, and the work is the subject of judgment. It is the attributing to this the privileges of the body, and of that which Christ builds, that has produced popery and all that is akin to it. The corrupt thing which is to come under judgment is falsely clothed with the security of Christ's work. Here in Ephesians 2 we find not only the progressive and surely constructed work, but the present building together as a fact in the blessing of it, without reference to human responsibility in building.

[13] Chapter 2 speaks indeed of the body (v. 16); but the introduction of the house is a new element and requires some development. Although the work which is accomplished in the creation of the members who are to compose the body is all of God, it is accomplished on earth. The counsels of God have in view, first individuals, to place them near Himself, such as He would have them; then, having exalted Christ above every name now or hereafter, gives Him to be head of the body, formed of individuals united to Christ in heaven over all things. They will be perfect according to their Head. But the work on earth, if it gathers together the new-born, gathers them together on the earth. Now that which answers here below to the presence of Christ in heaven is the presence of the Holy Ghost on earth. The individual believer is indeed the temple of God, but in this chapter it is the whole body of Christians formed on earth that is spoken of; they become the house, the dwelling-place, of God on the earth. Wonderful and solemn truth. Immense privilege and source of blessing; but equally great responsibility. It will be observed that, in speaking of the body of Christ, we speak of the fruit of God's eternal purpose and own operation; and, although the Spirit may apply this name to the assembly of God on earth, as accounted to be composed of real members of Christ, nevertheless the body of Christ, as formed by the quickening power of God according to His eternal purpose, is composed of persons united to the Head as real members. The house of God, as now set up on earth, is the fruit of a work of God, here entrusted to men, not the proper object of His counsels (though the city in Revelation in a measure answers to it). In so far as it is the work of God, it is evident that this house is composed of those who are truly called of God, and so God set it up, and as it is spoken of here (compare Acts 2: 47). But we must not confound the practical result of this work, accomplished in the hands of men, and under their responsibility (1 Cor. 3), with the object of the counsels of God. A true member of Christ can no one be without being really united to the Head, neither a true stone in the house; but the house can be the dwelling-place of God, although that which is not a true stone may enter into its construction. But it is impossible that one not born of God should be a member of the body of Christ. See the preceding note.

[14]This appears to me to be the true word, and not "the fellowship."

[15]Christ is the centre of all the display of divine glory, but He thus dwells in our hearts so as to set them, so to speak, in this centre, and make them look out thence on all the glory displayed. Here we might lose ourselves; but he brings them back to the well-known love of Christ, yet not as anything narrower, for He is God, and it passes knowledge, so that we are filled up to all the fulness of God.

[16]This fully distinguishes the prayer of chapter I and this. There the calling and inheritance were in the sure purpose of God, and his prayer is that they may know them, and the power that brought them there. Here it is what is in us, and he prays that it may exist, and that as present power in the church.

[17]To recapitulate, there is, first, one body and one Spirit, one hope of our calling; second, one Lord, with whom are connected one faith and one baptism; third, one God and Father of all, who is above all things, everywhere, and in all Christians. Moreover, while insisting upon these three great relationships in which all Christians are placed, as being in their nature the foundations of unity, and the motives of its maintenance, these relationships extend successively in breadth. The direct relationship applies properly to the same persons; but the character of Him who is the basis of the relationship enlarges the idea connected with it. With regard to the Spirit, His presence unites the body-is the bond between all the members of the body: none but the members of the body-and they, as such-are seen here. The Lord has wider claims. In this relationship it is not the members of the body that are spoken of; there is one faith and one baptism, one profession in the world: there could not be two. But although the persons who are in this outward relationship may stand also in the other relationships and be members of the body, yet the relationship here is one of individual profession; it is not a thing which cannot exist at all except in reality (one is a member of Christ's body, or one is not). God is the Father of these same members, as being His children, but He who maintains this relationship is necessarily and always above all things-personally above all things, but divinely everywhere.

[18] The descent into the lower parts of the earth is viewed as from His place as man on earth; not His coming down from heaven to be a man. It is Christ who descended.

[19]Verse 11 gives special and permanent gifts; verse 16, what every joint supplies in its place. Both have their place in the forming and growth of the body.

[20]I have already noticed, that contrast of the new state and the old characterises the Ephesians more than Colossians, where we find more development of life.

[21] In Colossians we have "renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created us."

[22]There is a sense in which God is, morally, the measure of other beings-a consideration that brings out the immense privilege of the child of God. It is the effect of grace, in that, being born of Him and partaking of His nature, the child of God is called to be the imitator of God, to be perfect as His Father is perfect. He who loves is born of God, and knows God, for God is love. He makes us partakers of His holiness, consequently we are called to be imitators of God, as His dear children. This shews the immense privileges of grace. It is the love of God in the midst of evil, and which, superior to all evil, walks in holiness, and rejoices also together, in a divine way, in the unity of the same joys and the same sentiments. Therefore Christ says (John 17), "as we are," and "in us."

[23]It is useful to note here the difference of Romans 12: 1, 2, and this epistle. The Romans, we have seen, contemplates a living man on earth; hence he is to give his body up as a living sacrifice-alive in Christ, he is to yield his members up wholly to God. Here the saints are seen as sitting in heavenly places already, and they are to come out in testimony of God's character before men, walking as Christ did in love, and light.

[24]We should read "fruit of the light," not "fruit of the Spirit."

[25]It is well to notice here this character of love-love in an established relationship. The word of God is more exact than is generally thought in its expressions; because the expression has its origin in the thing itself. It is not said that Christ loved the world-He has no relationship with the world as it is. It is said that God so loved the world; this is what He is towards it in His own goodness. It is not said that God loved the assembly. The proper relationship of the assembly as such is with Christ, her heavenly Bridegroom. The Father loves us, we are His dear children. God, in this character, loves us. Thus Jehovah loves Israel. On the other hand, all the tenderness and faithfulness that belong to the relationship in which Christ stands are our portion in Him, as well as all that the name of Father means on its side also.

[26]It is specially the devotedness of His love; He gives and gives Himself.

[27]When I say (here and above) that the love of Christ is its source, it is not as if the love of the Father and the counsels of God had not their place in it. I speak of the blessing applied and carried out in the relationship presented in this passage; and this relationship exists with Christ. Nevertheless it is the same divine love.

[28] Still what we have to overcome are the wiles of the devil. His power over us is broken. He may rouse the world in persecution and be a roaring lion; but as regards personal temptations, if we resist the devil he flees from us; he knows he has met Christ, and Christ has overcome. But his wiles are ever there.

[29] {Girding the loins} is a common figure of scripture for a mind and heart kept in godly order as in God's presence by the word of God.

[30] Prayer is founded on the immense privilege of having common interests with God both as to ourselves and as to all that are His, yea, even as to Christ's glory. Wondrous thought! unspeakable grace!

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