“…whatever He promises, for His own goodness’ sake He will most surely perform.” — John ChrysostomRead More
“But happy they who have embraced the gospel, and whose attachment to it is steadfast; for this, beyond all doubt, is truth and life.” —John CalvinRead More
“Your being, which is now turned into well-being, is to glorify the God of Grace!” —Charles SpurgeonRead More
“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,”
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.
— John Calvin
Providence is irresistible in its designs and motions; for all providences are but fulfilling and accomplishments of Gods immutable decrees. Eph. 1: 11. “He works all things according to the counsel of his own will.” Hence Zech. 6: 1. the instruments by which God executed his wrath, are called “chariots coming from betwixt two mountains of brass,” i.e. “the firm and immutable decrees of God.” When the Jews put Christ to death, they did but do what “the hand and counsel of God had before determined to be done,” Acts 4: 28. so that none can oppose or resist providence. “I will work, and who shall let it?” Isa 43: 13.
— John Flavel, Fountain of Life Opened Up
The counsel of his will, κατὰ τὴν βουλὴν τοῦ θελήματος αὐτοῦ, means the counsel which has its origin in his will; neither suggested by others, nor determined by any thing out of himself. It is therefore equivalent to his sovereign will.
— Charles Hodge, Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians
But mark now how on all occasions he takes pains to point out, that it is not the result of any change of purpose, but that these matters had been thus modeled from the very first, so that we are in no wise inferior to the Jews in this respect; and how, in consequence, he does every thing with this view. How then is it that Christ Himself saith, “I was not sent, but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel?” (Mat. xv. 24.) And said again to his disciples, “Go not into any way of the Gentiles, and enter not into any city of the Samaritans.” (Mat. x. 5.) And Paul again himself says, “It was necessary that the word of God should first be spoken to you. Seeing ye thrust it from you and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” (Acts xiii. 46.) These expressions, I say, are used with this design, that no one may suppose that this work came to pass incidentally only. “According to the purpose,” he says, “of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His will.” That is to say, He had no after workings; having modeled all things from the very first, thus he leads forward all things “according to the counsel of His will.” So that it was not merely because the Jews did not listen that He called the Gentiles, nor was it of mere necessity, nor was it on any inducement arising from them.
— John Chrysostom, "Homily II" on Ephesians
Election, or choice, respects that lump or mass of mankind out of which some are chosen, from which they are separated and distinguished. Predestination has respect to the blessings they are designed for; particularly the adoption of children, it being the purpose of God that in due time we should become his adopted children, and so have a right to all the privileges and to the inheritance of children. We have here the date of this act of love: it was before the foundation of the world; not only before God's people had a being, but before the world had a beginning; for they were chosen in the counsel of God from all eternity. It magnifies these blessings to a high degree that they are the products of eternal counsel. The alms which you give to beggars at your doors proceed from a sudden resolve; but the provision which a parent makes for his children is the result of many thoughts, and is put into his last will and testament with a great deal of solemnity. And, as this magnifies divine love, so it secures the blessings to God's elect; for the purpose of God according to election shall stand.
—Matthew HenryRead More
“as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”
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, ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι, 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 (ἀνακεφαλαίωσις) 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.
— John Calvin
Translate, "Unto the dispensation of the fulness of the times," that is, "which He purposed in Himself" (Eph 1:9) with a view to the economy of (the gracious administration belonging to) the fulness of the times (Greek,"fit times," "seasons"). More comprehensive than "the fulness of the time" (Ga 4:4). The whole of the Gospel times(plural) is meant, with the benefits to the Church dispensedin them severally and successively. Compare "the ages to come" (Eph 2:7). "The ends of the ages" (Greek, 1Co 10:11); "the times (same Greek as here, 'the seasons,' or 'fitly appointed times') of the Gentiles" (Lu 21:24); "the seasons which the Father hath put in His own power" (Ac 1:7); "the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the prophets since the world began" (Ac 3:20, 21). The coming of Jesus at the first advent, "in the fulness of time," was one of these "times." The descent of the Holy Ghost, "when Pentecost was fully come" (Ac 2:1), was another. The testimony given by the apostles to Him "in due time" ("in its own seasons," Greek) (1Ti 2:6) was another. The conversion of the Jews "when the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled," the second coming of Christ, the "restitution of all things," the millennial kingdom, the new heaven and earth, shall be severally instances of "the dispensation of the fulness of the times," that is, "the dispensation of" the Gospel events and benefits belonging to their respective "times," when severally filled up or completed. God the Father, according to His own good pleasure and purpose, is the Dispenser both of the Gospel benefits and of their several fitting times (Ac 1:7).
— Jameson, Fausset, and Brown
This then is the order of the rule of our faith, and the foundation of the building, and the stability of our conversation: God, the Father, not made, not material, invisible; one God, the creator of all things: this is the first point of our faith. The second point is: The Word of God, Son of God, Christ Jesus our Lord, who was manifested to the prophets according to the form of their prophesying and according to the method of the dispensation of the Father: through whom all things were made; who also at the end of the times, to complete and gather up all things, was made man among men, visible and tangible, in order to abolish death and show forth life and produce a community of union between God and man. And the third point is: The Holy Spirit, through whom the prophets prophesied, and the fathers learned the things of God, and the righteous were led forth into the way of righteousness; and who in the end of the times was poured out in a new way a upon mankind in all the earth, renewing man unto God.
— Irenaeus, The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching
II. In the way of exhortation. If it be so that praising God is very much the employment of heaven, hence let all be exhorted to the work and duty of praising God. The following considerations will show why we should be stirred up by this doctrine to this work.
1. Let it be considered that the church on earth is the same society with those saints who are praising God in heaven. There is not one church of Christ in heaven, and another here upon earth. Though the one be sometimes called the church triumphant, and the other the church militant, yet they are not indeed two churches. By the church triumphant, is meant the triumphant part of the church; and by the church militant, the militant part of it: for there is but one universal or catholic church. Cant. vi. 9. “My dove, my undefiled, is but one.” Christ has not two mystical bodies. 1 Cor. xii. 12. “The body is one, and hath many members.” The glorious assembly and the saints on earth make but one family. Eph. lii. 15. “Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” Though some are in heaven, and some on earth, in very different circumstances, yet they are all united: for there is but one body, and one spirit, and one Lord Jesus Christ. One. God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, find in all. God hath in Christ united the inhabitants of heaven, and the holy inhabitants of this earth, and hath made them one. Eph. i. 10. “That in the dispensation of the fulness of time, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him.” Heaven is at a great distance from the earth: it is called a far country. Matt. xxv. 14. Yet the distance of place does not separate them so as to make two societies. For though the saints on earth, at present, are at a distance from heaven, yet they belong there; that is their proper home. The saints that are in this world are strangers here; and therefore the apostle reproved the Christians in his day, for acting as though they belonged to this world. Col. ii. 20. “Why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances?”
Some of a people may be in their own land, and some in a strange land; and yet be but one people. Some of a family may be at home, and some sojourning abroad; and yet be but one family. The saints on earth, though they be not actually in heaven, yet have their inheritance in heaven, and are travelling towards heaven, and will arrive there in a little time. They are nearly related to the saints in heaven; they are their brethren, being children of the same Father, and fellow-heirs with Jesus Christ. In. Ephes. ii. 10. the saints on earth are said to be fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the. household of God. And the apostle tells the Christian Hebrews, Heb. xii. 22-24. that they were ” come to mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” But how were they come to this heavenly city, and this glorious assembly, when they were yet here on earth? They were come to them, ere they were brought and united to them in the same family. But this is what I would inculcate by all this, that the church of God on earth ought to be employed in the same work with the saints in heaven, because they are the same society: as they are but one family, have but one Father, one inheritance; so they should have but one work. The church on earth ought to join with the saints in heaven in their employment, as God hath joined them in one society by his grace.
We profess to be of the visible people of Christ, to be Christians and not heathens, and so to belong to the universal church. We profess therefore to be of the same society, and shall not walk answerably to our profession, unless we employ ourselves in the same work.
2. Let it be considered, that we all of us hope to spend an eternity with the saints in heaven, and in the same work of praising God. There is, it may be, not one of us but who hopes to be a saint in heaven, and there continually to sing praises to God and the Lamb; but how disagreeable will it be with such a hope, to live in the neglect of praising God now! [...]
— Jonathan Edwards, Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume II, "Sermon X"
By gathering together in one, is meant making happy together in our head, or uniting all in one fountain of life and happiness; as appears by John xvii. 20, 21, 22, 23.
The same thing is taught again in Colos. ii. 9, 10. “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, and ye are complete in him, who is the head of all principality and power. ” What is rendered complete in him, in the original properly signifies filled up, or filled full, in him. He is he in whom all the fulness of the Godhead dwells, and in whom the creature receives that fullness; and he is the head of communication whence ye receive fulness, or in whom we are filled full, who is the same person, who is also the head, in whom the angels receive their fulness, as it is added, “who is the head of all principality and power.”
This is very agreeable to what the apostle says, Colos. i. 18, 19. “And he is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence, for it pleased the Father that in him all fulness should dwell.” By this it appears that it was the design of God so to exalt and glorify his Son, that all his intelligent creatures should in every thing be after him, inferior to him, subject to him, and dependent on him, and should have all their fulness, all their supplies from him, and in him; especially if we compare this verse with the context, and with many other places in the New Testament.
— Jonathan Edwards, Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume II, "Confirmation of Angels"Read More
“making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ”
the mystery—God's purpose of redemption hidden heretofore in His counsels, but now revealed (Eph 6:19; Ro 16:25; Col 1:26, 27). This "mystery" is not like the heathen mysteries, which were imparted only to the initiated few. All Christians are the initiated. Only unbelievers are the uninitiated.
— Jameson, Fausset, and Brown
Several things belonging to that great redemption, are mentioned in the following verses: Such as God’s great wisdom in it, ver. 8. The clearness of light granted through Christ, ver. 9. God’s gathering together in one, all things in heaven and earth in Christ, ver. 10. God’s giving the Christians that were first converted to the Christian faith from among the Jews, an interest in this great redemption, ver. 11. Then the great end is added, ver. 12. “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.”
— Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume One
Blessings were made known to believers, by the Lord's showing to them the mystery of his sovereign will, and the method of redemption and salvation. But these must have been for ever hidden from us, if God had not made them known by his written word, preached gospel, and Spirit of truth. Christ united the two differing parties, God and man, in his own person, and satisfied for that wrong which caused the separation. He wrought, by his Spirit, those graces of faith and love, whereby we are made one with God, and among ourselves. He dispenses all his blessings, according to his good pleasure. His Divine teaching led whom he pleased to see the glory of those truths, which others were left to blaspheme. What a gracious promise that is, which secures the gift of the Holy Ghost to those who ask him! The sanctifying and comforting influences of the Holy Spirit seal believers as the children of God, and heirs of heaven. These are the first-fruits of holy happiness. For this we were made, and for this we were redeemed; this is the great design of God in all that he has done for us; let all be ascribed unto the praise of his glory.
— Matthew Henry
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.
— John Wesley
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.
— John Calvin
Hence we are informed, That interest in Jesus Christ is the true way to all spiritual preferment in heaven. Do you covet to be in the heart, in the favour and delight of God? Get interest in Jesus Christ, and you shall presently be there. [...] You see among men, all things are carried by interest: persons rise in this world as they are befriended; preferment goes by favour: So it is in heaven, persons are preferred according to their interest in the beloved, Eph. 1: 9. Christ is the great favourite in heaven: his image upon your souls and his name in your prayers, makes both accepted with God.
— John Flavel, Fountain of Life Opened UpRead More
“which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight”
The wisdom and understanding which God has so abundantly communicated, includes both the objective revelation and the subjective apprehension of it. This is the third great blessing of which the context treats. The first is election; the second redemption; the third is this revelation both outward and inward. The first is the work of God, the everlasting Father; the second the work of tile Son; and the third the work of the Holy Spirit, who thus applies to believers the redemption purchased by Christ.
— Charles Hodge
The guilt and the stain of sin could be no otherwise removed than by the blood of Jesus. All our spiritual blessings flow down to us in that stream. This great benefit, which comes freely to us, was dearly bought and paid for by our blessed Lord; and yet it is according to the riches of God's grace. Christ's satisfaction and God's rich grace are very consistent in the great affair of man's redemption. God was satisfied by Christ as our substitute and surety; but it was rich grace that would accept of a surety, when he might have executed the severity of the law upon the transgressor, and it was rich grace to provide such a surety as his own Son, and freely to deliver him up, when nothing of that nature could have entered into our thoughts, nor have been any otherwise found out for us. In this instance he has not only manifested riches of grace, but has abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence (v. 8), wisdom in contriving the dispensation, and prudence in executing the counsel of his will, as he has done. How illustrious have the divine wisdom and prudence rendered themselves, in so happily adjusting the matter between justice and mercy in this grand affair, in securing the honour of God and his law, at the same time that the recovery of sinners and their salvation are ascertained and made sure!
— Matthew Henry
It is only infinite wisdom that could find out a way for the salvation of any one of the whole race of mankind, so as that it might be reconciled unto the glory of his holiness, righteousness, and rule.
— John Owen, Christologia
1. How vast the benefits divine,
Which we in Christ possess!
We're saved from guilt and ev'ry sin,
And called to holiness.
2. 'Tis not for works which we have done,
Or shall here-after do;
But He, of His electing love,
Salvation doth bestow.
3. The glory, Lord, from first to last,
Is due to Thee alone;
Aught to ourselves we dare not take,
Or rob Thee of Thy crown.
4. Our glorious Surety undertook
Redemption's wondrous plan;
And grace was given us in Him,
Before the world began.
5. Safe in the arms of sov'reign love
We ever shall remain;
Nor shall the rage of earth or hell
Make Thy dear councils vain.
6. Not one of all the chosen race
But shall to heav'n attain,
Partake on earth the purposed grace,
And then with Jesus reign.
— "How Vast the Benefits Divine," by Augustus Toplady
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.
— John Calvin
The great God is our Saviour. Now the finding out such a fit person to be the Redeemer of men, is to be ascribed solely to the wisdom of God: had all men been summoned together, and this declared unto them, that God was willing they should be redeemed, could they settle upon a proper person to redeem them; and had the angels been called in to assist with their counsel, after long consultation, they would never have been able to have proposed one fit for this work; for who could have thought of the Son of God, and proposed his becoming man, and suffering, and dying in the stead of men, to redeem them? this is “nodus deo vindice dignus”; what God only could have found out; and he claims it to himself; “I”, the only wise God, “have found a ransom” (Job 33:24; Ps. 89:19, 20).
— John Gill, Doctrinal DivinityRead More
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace”
Guilt is nothing else but the force and power that is in sin, to oblige the sinner to undergo the penalty due to sin; therefore sinners are said to be guilty of hell-fire. atth 5:22. Guilty of eternal judgement, Mark 3:29. To be under the judgement of God, Rom. 3:19. Remission takes away both guilt and punishment together; it takes away all guilt, Acts 13:38, 39. and all punishment.
Now that this remission of sin is the privilege of believers, is most apparent, for all the causes of remission are in conjunction to procure it for them; the love of God, which is the impulsive cause of pardon; the blood of Christ, which is the meritorious cause of pardon; and saving faith, which is the instrumental cause of pardon, do all co-operate for their remission, as is plain in the text.
the pardon of believers is the purchase of the blood of Christ: nothing but the blood of Christ is a price equivalent to the remission of sin, for this blood was innocent and untainted blood, 1 Pet. 1: 19. the blood of a Lamb without spot; this blood was precious blood, blood of infinite worth and value, the blood of God, Acts 20: 28. It was prepared blood for this very purpose, Heb. 10:5. Prepared by God's eternal appointment; prepared by Christ's miraculous and extraordinary production by the operation of the Spirit; prepared by his voluntary sequestration, or sanctification of himself to this very use and purpose.
The blood of Jesus is not only innocent, precious, and prepared blood, but it is also blood actually shed and sacrificed to the justice of God, for the expiation of guilt, and procurement of our discharge, Isa. 53:5. O. To conclude, the severe justice of God could put in no exception against the blood of Christ, it is unexceptionable blood, being, (as before was noted,) untainted by sin, and dignified above all estimation by the person whose blood it was. Justice required no less, and could demand no more; and this is the price at which our pardons are purchased, and without which no sin could be pardoned; for "without shedding of blood, (such blood as this) there is no remission," Heb. 9:22.
— John Flavel
The word πλοῦτος riches in such connections is a favorite one with the apostle, who speaks of the riches of glory, the riches of wisdom, and the exceeding riches of grace It is the overflowing abundance of unmerited love. inexhaustible in God and freely accessible through Christ. There is, therefore, nothing incompatible between redemption, i. e. deliverance on the ground of a ransom (or a complete satisfaction to justice), and grace. The grace consists —1. In providing this satisfaction and in accepting it in behalf of sinners. 2. In accepting those who are entirely destitute of merit. 3. In bestowing this redemption and all its benefits without regard to the comparative goodness of men. It is not because one is wiser, better, or more noble than others, that he is made a partaker of this grace; but God chooses the foolish, the ignorant, and those who are of no account, that they who glory may glory only in the Lord.
— Charles Hodge
What saith the Scripture about “that blood”? Let me try to put my readers in remembrance. Do we want to be clean and guiltless now in the sight of God? It is written that “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin;”—that “it justifies;” that “it makes us nigh to God;” that “through it there is redemption, even the forgiveness of sin;” that it “purges the conscience;” that “it makes peace between God and man;”—that it gives “boldness to enter into the holiest.” Yes! it is expressly written of the saints in glory, that “they had washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” and that they had “overcome their souls' enemies by the blood of the Lamb” (1 John 1:7; Col. 1:20; Heb. 10:19; Eph. 1:7; Heb. 9:14; Eph. 2:13; Rom. 5:9; Rev. 7:14). Why, in the name of common sense, if the Bible is our guide to heaven, why are we to refuse the teaching of the Bible about Christ's blood, and turn to other remedies for the great common soul-disease of mankind? If, besides this, the sacrifices of the Old Testament did not point to the sacrifice of Christ's death on the cross, they were useless, unmeaning forms, and the outer courts of tabernacle and temple were little better than shambles. But if, as I firmly believe, they were meant to lead the minds of Jews to the better sacrifice of the true Lamb of God, they afford unanswerable confirmation of the position which I maintain this day. That position is, that the one “blood of Christ” is the spiritual medicine for all who have the “one blood of Adam” in their veins.
— J. C. Ryle, Upper Room
Special promises are made first to Christ, and then by proportion to us; and they are these,—(1.) God promiseth to grace his Son above his fellows, that he may die and suffer, and merit to us grace answerable to this,—“A new heart, and a new spirit,” (Jer. 32:39; Ezek. 36:26, 27.) “For out of his fullness we receive, and grace for grace,” (John 1:16.) (2.) Justification is promised to Christ, not personal, as if he needed a pardon for sin, but of his cause. There is a cautionary, or surety-righteousness, due to the surety, when he hath paid the debts of the broken man, and cometh out of prison free by law: so he came out of the grave for our righteousness, but having first the righteousness of his cause, in his own person. “He is near that justifieth me,” saith Christ; “who shall contend with me?” (Isa. 50:8.) “Justified in the Spirit.” (1 Tim. 3:16.) So have we justification of our persons, and remission in his blood, (Eph. 1:7;) and that by covenant, (Jer. 31:32, 33). (3.) Victory and dominion are promised to Christ, (Psalm 110:1, 2; Psalm 89:21, etc.). He must reign, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet; (1 Cor. 15:25,) and victory over all our enemies is promised to us, (John 16:33, and 14:30; Rom. 6:14, 15; Gal. 3:13; Col. 2:14, 15.) (4.) The kingdom and glory is sought by Christ, (John 17:5,) from his Father; then he had a word of promise from his Father for it, (Phil. 2:9, 10,) and we have that also. (Luke 12:32; John 17:24; John 14:1-3.) (5.) Christ had a word of promise, when he went down to the grave, as some favourite by law goeth to prison, but hath in his bosom from his prince, a bill of grace, that within three days he shall come out, to enjoy all his wonted honours and court, (Psalm 16:10, 11:) so have we the like, (John 11:26, and 6:38,39.)
— Samuel Rutherford, An Exposition of the History of Christ's Dispossessing of the Daughter of the Woman of Canaan
Rom. iii. 25, God is said “to set forth Christ to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness in the remission of sins;” his righteousness is also manifested in the business of forgiveness of sins: and therefore it is everywhere said to be wholly in Christ, Eph. i. 7. So that this gospel grace and pardoning mercy is alone purchased by him, and revealed in him. And this was the main end of all typical institutions, — to manifest that remission and forgiveness is wholly wrapped up in the Lord Christ, and that out of him there is not the least conjecture to be made of it, nor the least morsel to be tasted. Had not God set forth the Lord Christ, all the angels in heaven and men on earth could not have apprehended that there had been any such thing in the nature of God as this grace of pardoning mercy. The apostle asserts the full manifestation as well as the exercise of this mercy to be in Christ only, Tit. iii. 4, 5, “After that the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man appeared,” — namely, in the sending of Christ, and the declaration of him in the gospel. Then was this pardoning mercy and salvation not by works discovered.
— John Owen, Of Communion with God the Father, Son and Holy GhostRead More
“to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”
— EPHESIANS 1:6 NASB
Accepting of persons is noted in scripture as the sinful act of a corrupt man; a thing which God abhors, being the corruption and abuse of that power and authority which men have in judgement; overlooking the merit of the cause through sinful respect to the quality of the person whose cause it is; so that the cause doth not commend the person, but the person the cause. This God everywhere brands in men, as a vile perverting of judgement, and utterly disclaims it himself, Gal. 2:6. "God accepteth no man's person;" Rom. 2:11. "There is no respect of persons with God."
[...] There is also an accepting of persons, which is the gracious act of a merciful God; whereby he receives both the persons and duties of believers into special grace and favour for Christ's sake; and of this my text speaks. In which act of favour three things are supposed or included.
First, It supposes an estate of alienation and enmity; those only are accepted into favour that were out of favour; and indeed so stood the case with us, Eph. 2:12, 13 "Ye were aliens and strangers, but now in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were afar off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ". So the apostle Peter, in 1 Pet. 2:10. "Which in time past were not a people, but now are the people of God; which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy." The fall made a fearful breach betwixt God and man. Sin, like a thick cloud, intercepted all the beams of divine favour from us; the satisfaction of Christ dissolves that cloud, Isa 44:22. "I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins." This dark cloud thus dissolved, the face of God shines forth again with cheerful beams of favour and love upon all, who, by faith, are interested in Jesus Christ.
Secondly, It includes the removing of guilt from the persons of believers, by the imputation of Christ's righteousness to them, Rom. 5:1, 2. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand:" for the face of God cannot shine upon the wicked; the person must be first made righteous, before he can be made accepted.
Thirdly, It includes the offering up, or tendering of our persons and duties to God by Jesus Christ. Accepting implies presenting or tendering: believers indeed do present themselves to God, Rom. 12:50: But Christ's presenting them makes their tender of themselves acceptable to the Lord; Col. 1:22. "In the body of his flesh through death to present you holy, and unblameable, and unreproveable, in his sight." Christ leads every believer, as it were, by the hand, into the gracious presence of God; after this manner bespeaking acceptance for him: "Father, here is a poor soul that was born in sin, has lived in rebellion against thee all his days; he has broken all thy laws, and deserved all thy wrath; yet he is one of that number which thou gavest me before the world was. I have made full payment by my blood for all his sins: I have opened his eyes to see the sinfulness and misery of his condition: broken his heart for his rebellions against thee, bowed his will in obedience unto thy will; united him to myself by faith, as a living member of my body: and now, Lord, since he is become mine by regeneration, let him be thine also by special acceptation: let the same love with which thou lovest me embrace him also, who is now become mine." And so much for the first particular, viz. What acceptation with God is.
— John Flavel
The believer has been “accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6), and stands before the throne of God arrayed in a garment more excellent than that which is worn by the holy angels.
— A. W. Pink, Doctrine of Justification
We will consider the choice of the person to be our redeemer. When God designed the redemption of mankind, his great wisdom appears in that he pitched upon his own, his only-begotten, Son, to be the person to perform the work. He was a redeemer of God’s own choosing, and therefore he is called in Scripture, God’s elect, (Isa. lxii. 1.) The wisdom of choosing this person to be the redeemer, appears in his being every way a fit person for this undertaking. It was necessary, that the person that is the redeemer, should be a divine person.—None but a divine person was sufficient for this great work. The work is infinitely unequal to any creature. It was requisite, that the redeemer of sinners, should be himself infinitely holy. None could take away the infinite evil of sin, but one that was infinitely far from and contrary to sin himself. Christ is a fit person upon this account.
It was requisite, that the person, in order to be sufficient for this undertaking, should be one of infinite dignity and worthiness, that he might be capable of meriting infinite blessings. The Son of God is a fit person on this account. It was necessary, that he should be a person of infinite power and wisdom; for this work is so difficult, that it requires such an one. Christ is a fit person also upon this account. It was requisite, that he should be a person infinitely dear to God the Father, in order to give an infinite value to his transactions in the Father’s esteem, and that the Father’s love to him might balance the offence and provocation by our sins. Christ is a fit person upon this account. Therefore called the beloved, (Eph. i. 6.) He hath made us accepted in the beloved.
It was requisite, that the person should be one that could act in this as of his own absolute right: one that, in himself, is not a servant or subject; because, if he is one that cannot act of his own right, he cannot merit any thing. He that is a servant, and that can do no more than he is bound to do, cannot merit. And then he that has nothing that is absolutely his own, cannot pay any price to redeem another. Upon this account Christ is a fit person; and none but a divine person can be fit.—And he must be a person also of infinite mercy and love; for no other person but such an one would undertake a work so difficult, for a creature so unworthy as man. Upon this account also Christ is a fit person.—It was requisite that he should be a person of unchangeable perfect truth and faithfulness; otherwise he would not be fit to be depended on by us in so great an affair. Christ is also a fit person upon this account.
— Jonathan Edwards, Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. II
It is neither glorious praise, nor glorious grace, but to the praise of the glory of his grace. The glory of grace, is the divine excellence of that attribute manifested as an object of admiration. The glory of God is the manifested excellence of God, and the glory of any one of his attributes, is the manifestation of that attribute as an object of praise. The design of redemption, therefore, is to exhibit the grace of God in such a conspicuous manner as to fill all hearts with wonder and all lips with praise.
— Charles Hodge
“he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will”
— EPHESIANS 1:5 ESV
Three causes of our salvation are here mentioned, and a fourth is shortly afterwards added. The efficient cause is the good pleasure of the will of God, the material cause is, Jesus Christ, and the final cause is, the praise of the glory of his grace. [...] in the freest manner, and on no mercenary grounds, does God bestow upon us his love and favor, just as, when we were not yet born, and when he was prompted by nothing but his own will, he fixed upon us his choice.
— John Calvin
Sonship in reference to God includes—1. Participation of his nature, or conformity to his image. 2. The enjoyment of his favour, or being the special objects of his love. 3. Heirship, or a participation of the glory and blessedness of God.
— Charles Hodge
The more you search the Bible, the more sure will you be that sonship is the special privilege of the chosen people of God and of none beside. Having thus, as far as I can, established my point, that the privilege of our text is a special one, let me dwell upon it for a moment and remark that, as a special one, it is an act of pure unmistakeable grace. No man has any right to be a son of God. If we are born into his family it is a miracle of mercy. It is one of the ever-blessed exhibitions of the infinite love of God which without any cause in us, has set itself upon us. If thou art this day an heir of heaven, remember, man, thou wast once the slave of hell. Once thou didst wallow in the mire, and if thou shouldst adopt a swine to be thy child, thou couldst not then have performed an act of greater compassion than when God adopted thee. And if an angel could exalt a gnat to equal dignity with himself, yet would not the boon be such-an-one as that which God hath conferred on thee.
— Charles Spurgeon
God’s praise is the end of the work of redemption. In Eph. i. where that work in its various parts is particularly insisted on, and set forth in its exceeding glory, this is mentioned, from time to time, as the great end of all, that it should be ”to the praise of his glory.” As in ver. 6, 12, 14. By which we may doubtless understand much the same thing, with what in Phil. i. 11. is expressed, ”his praise and glory.” Agreeably to this, Jacob’s fourth son, from whom the great Redeemer was to proceed, by the special direction of God’s providence, was called praise. This happy consequence, and glorious end of that great redemption, Messiah, one of his posterity, was to work out.
In the Old Testament this praise is spoken of as the end of the forgiveness of God’s people, and their salvation, in the same manner as God’s name and glory. Isa. xlviii. 9, 10, 11. “For my name’s sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise, will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off. Behold I have refined thee—for mine own sake, even for mine own sake will I do it; for how should my name be polluted? and my glory will I not give to another.” Jer. xxxiii. 8, 9. “And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity—and I will pardon all their iniquities. And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour.”
— Jonathan Edwards, Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. I
Finally, we are informed here, that in this matter He took counsel with none, but that we are "predestinated according to the good pleasure of His will."
— A. W. Pink, Sovereignty of GodRead More
“even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.”
— EPHESIANS 1:4 ESV
The very time when the election took place proves it to be free; for what could we have deserved, or what merit did we possess, before the world was made? How childish is the attempt to meet this argument by the following sophism! “We were chosen because we were worthy, and because God foresaw that we would be worthy.” We were all lost in Adam; and therefore, had not God, through his own election, rescued us from perishing, there was nothing to be foreseen. The same argument is used in the Epistle to the Romans, where, speaking of Jacob and Esau, he says,
“For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth.” (Romans 9:11.)
But though they had not yet acted, might a sophist of the Sorbonne reply, God foresaw that they would act. This objection has no force when applied to the depraved natures of men, in whom nothing can be seen but materials for destruction.
In Christ. This is the second proof that the election is free; for if we are chosen in Christ, it is not of ourselves. It is not from a perception of anything that we deserve, but because our heavenly Father has introduced us, through the privilege of adoption, into the body of Christ. In short, the name of Christ excludes all merit, and everything which men have of their own; for when he says that we are chosen in Christ, it follows that in ourselves we are unworthy.
[...] Where are the men who dread and avoid the doctrine of predestination as an inextricable labyrinth, who believe it to be useless and almost dangerous? No doctrine is more useful, provided it be handled in the proper and cautious manner, of which Paul gives us an example, when he presents it as an illustration of the infinite goodness of God, and employs it as an excitement to gratitude.
— John Calvin
The federal oneness between the Redeemer and the redeemed, the choosing of them in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4), by which a legal union was established between Him and them, is that which alone accounts for and justifies all else. “For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb. 2:11). As the Covenant-Head of His people, Christ was so related to them that their responsibilities necessarily became His, and we are so related to Him that His merits necessarily become ours. Thus, as we said in an earlier chapter, three words give us the key to and sum up the whole transaction: substitution, identification, imputation—all of which rest upon covenant-oneness. Christ was substituted for us, because He is one with us—identified with us, and we with Him. Thus God dealt with us as occupying Christ’s place of worthiness and acceptance. May the Holy Spirit grant both writer and reader such an heart-apprehension of this wondrous and blessed truth, that overflowing gratitude may move us unto fuller devotedness unto Him who loved us and gave Himself for us.
— A. W. Pink, Doctrine of Justification
All who are chosen to happiness as the end are chosen to holiness as the means. Their sanctification, as well as their salvation, is the result of the counsels of divine love.
— Matthew Henry
And if we can say that to be perfect would be Heaven to us, then we are already on the road to Heaven—and God is working out in us His eternal purpose, which is, "that we should be holy." [...] We are chosen, not because we are holy, but that we may be made holy. The election precedes the character and is, indeed, the moving cause in producing the character.
— Charles Spurgeon
Eph. 1:4, "According as he hath chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and with out blame before him in love." Chap. 2:10, "Created unto good works, which God hath foreordained that we should walk in them." Holy practice is as much the end of all that God does about his saints, as fruit is the end of all the husbandman does about the growth of his field or vineyard; as the matter is often represented in Scripture, Matt. 3:10, chapter 13:8, 23, 30, 38, chapter 21:19, 33, 34, Luke 13:6, John 15:1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 1 Cor. 3:9, Heb. 6:7, 8, Isa. 5:1-8, Cant. 8:11, 12, Isa. 27:2, 3.75 And therefore everything in a true Christian is calculated to reach this end. This fruit of holy practice is what every grace, and every discovery, and every individual thing which belongs to Christian experience, has a direct tendency to.
— Jonathan Edwards, Religious AffectionsRead More
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places”
— EPHESIANS 1:3 ESV
Eph 1:3-14 sets forth summarily the Gospel of the grace of God: the Father's work of love, Eph 1:3 (choosing us to holiness, Eph 1:4; to sonship, Eph 1:5; to acceptance, Eph 1:6): the Son's, Eph 1:7 (redemption, Eph 1:7; knowledge of the mystery of His will, Eph 1:9; an inheritance, Eph 1:11); the Holy Spirit's, Eph 1:13 (sealing, Eph 1:13; giving an earnest of the inheritance, Eph 1:14).
— Jameson, Fausset, and Brown
The word bless is here used in more than one sense, as referring to God, and as referring to men. I find in Scripture four different significations of this word. 1. We are said to bless God when we offer praise to him for his goodness. 2. God is said to bless us, when he crowns our undertakings with success, and, in the exercise of his goodness, bestows upon us happiness and prosperity; and the reason is, that our enjoyments depend entirely upon his pleasure. Our attention is here called to the singular efficacy which dwells in the very word of God, and which Paul expresses in beautiful language. 3. Men bless each other by prayer. 4. The priest’s blessing is not simply a prayer, but is likewise a testimony and pledge of the Divine blessing; for the priests received a commission to bless in the name of the Lord. Paul therefore blesses God, because he hath blessed us, that is, hath enriched us with all blessing and grace.
— John Calvin
But did you notice the word, "all"? I must bring that out clearly. I must turn the microscope on it. "Who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings." Surely Paul means that we have not one spiritual blessing which God did not give. We have never earned one—we could never create one. All spiritual blessings come from the Father! He has really given us all spiritual blessings. "I have not received them," says one. That is your own fault! He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ. A new heart, a tender conscience, a submissive will, faith, hope, love, patience—we have all these in Christ. Regeneration, justification, adoption, sanctification, perfection are all in Christ. If we do not take them out, it is the fault of our palsied hands that have not strength enough to grasp them! But He has given us all spiritual blessings in Christ. [...] You are in your Father's house—you cannot steal, for your Father says—"Help yourself to what you like." He has made over His whole estate of spiritual wealth to every believing child of His! Therefore take freely and you will, by doing so, glorify God!
— Charles Spurgeon
The meaning is that these blessings pertain to that heavenly state into which the believer is introduced. Here on earth he is, as the apostle says, in ch. 2, 6, ‘in heavenly places.’ He is a citizen of heaven, Phil. 3, 10. The word heaven, in Scripture, is not confined in its application to the place or state of future blessedness, but sometimes is nearly equivalent to ‘kingdom of heaven.’ The old writers, therefore, were accustomed to distinguish between the coelum gloriae, the heaven of glory; coelum naturae, the visible heavens, and coelum gratiae, the heaven of grace here on earth. These blessings connected with this heavenly state, are conferred upon believers in Christ. It is as they are in him, and in virtue of that union that they are partakers of these benefits.
— Charles HodgeRead More