Paul was imprisoned probably Rome when he wrote this letter Ephesians ; ; From prison he had heard of the Ephesians' faith and love, and that in this respect they were faring well Paul seems to judge the spiritual condition of a church based off of faith, hope, and love I Corinthians It is interesting to note that Paul did not commend the Ephesians for their hope.
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Instead he prayed for them to realize the "hope of their calling" , reminded them that at one time they did not have hope , and that they were called to Christ in one hope Just how significant this may be can not be accurately determined, especially when Paul mentions the word "love" fourteen times, and "faith" eight times.
It was for these two qualities that Paul commended the believers, and yet he mentions them many more times than hope. It would seem that if Paul's purpose behind the epistle was to bolster hope in the church, he would have spent more time speaking of the hope in which they were deficient, rather than the faith and love of which they had in abundance. It seems best to think of it as though Paul wrote the letter to strengthen the qualities they already possessed, and build up those that may be lacking.
The audience seems to be primarily Gentile in nature. This is especially evident in chapter two where Paul specifically calls his readers Gentiles ; also ;; , and by the abundance of the use of the word "you" which always refers to the Gentiles. Paul does use the inclusive pronouns "we" and "us" frequently too, but it seems that he is including himself in this use to show, in a symbolic manner, the solidarity in which he also stands with the Gentiles, himself being a Jew. Notice that Paul said "you" were strangers from the covenants of Israel , "you" near who were afar off and "them" remote that were nigh to God , and "you" are no more strangers and foreigners to God's household All these infer that the audience, at least in these passages, is strictly Gentile See also , 8, There are not very many textual clues as to what occasioned the writing of this letter.
It is very different from most of Paul's other letters. Probably the best clue we have to the spiritual needs of this church, and therefore the occasion of this letter, would be to look at the content of Paul's prayers for the church. Paul prayed that they would be given spiritual wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ so that they could understand what the hope of Christ's calling truly was, and to know the greatness of his power Paul also desired that they be strengthened by the Spirit in their inner man, that Christ would dwell in their hearts by faith, that they would be full of love, and comprehend the vastness of Christ's love for them, and power The apostle also urged them to meekness, patience, love, unity, and peace Starting at and ending at Paul gives a string of commands regarding immoral and non-Christian behavior.
Whether the Ephesians had been participating in such behavior, or whether this was just a warning from Paul so that they would not participate in such behaviors, is not fully known, but it was enough of a concern for the apostle to write at great length on the subject. The epistle seems to be a reminder of what they had already been taught, in order to intensify the truth of it in their minds, so that they would not revert to their old ways of darkness.
Nothing in the epistle seems to indicate that the Ephesian believers had already reverted back to their Gentile ways, but rather it seems that Paul was warning them lest they do. In Ephesians the universal church is called to grow as a unified whole, both Jew and Gentile. This union was accomplished by Christ, and the believers are to maintain that union. Each Christian has a vital part in this growth.
It starts with the five-fold ministry whom Christ has given to the church to stimulate and direct the growth of the body. It continues with each individual member contributing the measure of grace that they have received to the body, for its edification. The growth will be complete once the church has come to a unified doctrine and intimate knowledge of Jesus, to a perfect man as measured by Christ, wherein it will no longer be affected by false doctrine, but speaking the truth will have grown up into Christ.
Verse 7 But to each one of us was given the grace according to the measure of Christ's gift. De is being used as a contrastive conjunction. It could also be used as a transitional conjunction from Paul's previous discussion, which would surely tone down any contrastive force between verse six and seven. That the former use is more likely Paul's intent can be seen by Paul's point in He emphasized the oneness of the Christian life: unity of the spirit, one body, one Spirit, one hope of their calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God.
This gave the readers a sense of total equality in the Christian church. No one would have any advantage over another because they were all partaking of the same things. In order to explain how some in the church could have authority over others, even though all were on the same level before God in Christ's church ; , Paul noted that some receive a larger measure of grace than do others to do a specific job.
Because he shifted from emphasizing oneness and unity to diversity, he used de. This informed the readers that there was a shift in thought, and a level of contrast between what was just written. The contrast, or shift in thought doesn't seem to be too sharp. Had Paul wanted to make a sharp distinction between his previous subject matter and his current subject, he probably would have used the stronger conjugation alla.
Grace, here, is not speaking of the grace that saves us Ephesians Grace in this context is God's impartation of ability to do His will, specifically as it relates to ministry. The concept is best explained in Philippians where Paul said that God works in the believers to have the desire, and to have the ability to do His good pleasure. It is a grace given to us by God for His purposes, that will result is something we do. Peter made the connection between ministry and grace clear when he said, "As every man has received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the varied grace of God.
If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God gives I Peter a. Paul said it was God's grace that gave him his burden to preach to the Gentile world Gal ; Romans ; Ephesians , preach Christ I Corinthians ; Romans also connects grace with various gifts, noting that the gifts will vary depending upon the measure of grace given to the individual believer by God v.
Everyone has been given passive grace according to Christ's measure.
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Some, only seeing this grace as grace for the five-fold ministry listed in verse eleven, have been led to believe that in some sense everyone in the body of Christ has been given an office in the church. These individuals believe they are evangelists because they witness to their neighbors, or teachers because they have taught a home Bible study. I believe Paul's point is that each individual in the body of Christ has been given various measures of grace for various purposes, and then goes on to explain that the five-fold ministry has received a certain measure for God's purposes.
That not every individual in the church can receive the grace to be an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, or teacher is seen in verse twelve when the ministry's purpose is described - "for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Clearly those mentioned in verse eleven are a distinct group of people from the rest of the body of Christ. They are not more important to God, as in the Catholic hierarchical system, but have been given more grace than others in order to fulfill a certain role in God's economy.
They are equal to all other believers as it pertains to salvation and God's love, but are above other believers as it pertains to authority See II Corinthians ; Galatians Verse 8 Wherefore he says, "While ascending toward high, He led captive a captive multitude, He gave gifts to men. Here Paul refers to Psalm He does not quote it as does the original Hebrew, nor does he quote it as does the LXX.
The Hebrew says that "you have received gifts from men," 2 while Paul pictured the gifts as being given to men. Why Paul did this can not be ascertained. Some have speculated that Paul knew of manusciptal evidence which contained a variant reading of chalaq share, divide instead of laqach receive.
The difference between the two words in Hebrew is merely the transposition of two consonants. This does not seem very likely. Another proposed idea is that Paul was using the rabbinical and targumic interpretation of Psalm which saw it to refer to Moses ascending to heaven to learn the words of the Law "which he gave as gifts to men. Though the two above suggestions are possible, they do not seem likely.
This is probably just another case where the apostles used the Hebrew Scriptures for their own purposes, which called for the use of different words, which almost, or completely ignores the Scripture's literary and historical context.
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Paul, inspired by the Holy Ghost, chose to change the idea of "received" to "gave" in order to fit his own literary purposes. Zion as symbolized by the ark of the covenant, after it was taken from the Jebusites, because of their rebelliousness to YHWH.
The captives were the Jebusites and the gifts received were the spoils from the victory. Jerusalem, then, became the place where the YHWH dwelt. Paul claimed that Jesus led a captive multitude captive when He ascended into heaven.
The question that has caused a lot of discussion pertains to the identity of this captive multitude. Are they human beings? If so, who are they and where did they come from? If they are not people, what is Paul referring to? The context doesn't help much in this situation. Much of what will determine the view one takes depends upon their interpretation of as it pertains to the place of Jesus' descent. Whoever, or whatever these captives may be, Paul pictured Christ as a conqueror, who returning to heaven in triumph, distributed gifts to signal His ascension and triumph, as would a victor in an earthly battle.
The time of this 'leading of the captives' is contemporaneous to the time of Jesus' ascension. AnabaV and hcmalwteusen are both aorist, the former being a participle and the latter being an indicative verb. Though the aorist participle is usually antecedent in time to the main verb, when the main verb is also aorist, often the participle will be contemporaneous in time, such as it is here.
Verse 9 Now that He ascended, what is it except that he also descended into the lower parts, that is the earth? Verses 9 and 10 are interpolated between the thought flow of verses 8 and Without vs. Instead he resorted to this interpolation which argued for a logical assumption, seemingly to show Christ's greatness.
Building off of the previous verse where it is said that Christ ascended on high, Paul argued that it is implied that Christ must have descended to the earth previously. For Paul it is a logical assumption. One can't ascend to someplace if they were not first lower than that place. The argument is this, The ascension spoken of was not the first exaltation of Christ, but a return to heaven of one who dwelt in heaven. Much debate has gone on over the place of Christ's descent. Did Paul mean that Christ descended into hell?
Did he mean the descent was into the grave? Was Paul simply referring to the incarnation? The first hypothesis bases its conclusion from many passages besides this passage. Of the many, Peter's reference to Christ preaching to the imprisoned spirits, who lived in Noah's day I Peter ; See also is commonly cited.
It is believed that Christ after His death, went to hell, where a gulf separated the righteous in Abraham's bosom from the evil in hell Luke , and preached to the damned of His victory or some other message , and took the righteous in Abraham's bosom with Him to heaven they are said to be the captives who were led captive in v. In defense of this view, the Greek word translated lower , katwtera , can be a comparative adjective meaning lowermost. If Christ descended into the lowermost parts of the earth, it would seem that this would be into the heart of the earth itself, and not just the surface of the earth.
Scriptures such as Philippians and Revelation , 13 which speak of those "under the earth" add fervor to the argument. Also, Romans says Christ went into the abyss , which is used only as a reference to the abode of demons in the Scriptures Luke ; Revelation , 11; ; ; , 3. The second view sees Christ's burial in His cave-tomb as His descending "into" the earth. Jesus statement that He would be "in the heart [middle] of the earth," as Jonah was in the belly of the fish supports this view Matthew However, it could be debated as to whether Jesus was referring to His death, or to a descent into hell.
Those who hold to this view see Romans to be referring to the grave, because after Paul mentions the abyss he said, "That is to bring Christ up from the dead " emphasis mine. The third view sees Christ's descent as a reference to the incarnation. The ascension is being viewed from earth's perspective, where Christ ascended far above the heavens The descending, they say, is from heaven's perspective.
Lowermost , then, is not referring to levels of the earth, but to the depth of the earth itself in comparison to the height of heaven. Much of the argument centers over the translation of thV ghV. If it is a genitive of possession, it would mean the lower parts belonging to the earth. If it is a partitive genitive, it would mean the lower parts, which is a part of the earth. Both uses of the genitive support the view of Christ's descent into hell. If it is taken to be a genitive of apposition, it would support the incarnational view, meaning Christ descended to the lower parts, that is to say, the earth.
Wallace commented on the use of the genitive here saying:. However, it may well be a gen. However, it is a common idiom for a singular gen. Isa LXX ; Matt In such constructions it seems that there is a partitive gen. The translation might either be "he departed for the regions [of Israel], namely, Galilee" or, "he departed for the regions that constitute Galilee.
For other examples of this phenomenon, cf. Matt ; ; Mark ; Acts The difference between the partitive gen. Grammar certainly will not solve this problem, but it at least opens up the interpretive possibilities. Wallace also noted that the use of the genitive of apposition occurs over twelve times in this epistle. Though each view has its strengths and weaknesses, the third view seems to be the most likely. Jesus made it clear where He was going upon His death when he told the thief on the cross that he would be in paradise with Jesus on that very day Luke He gave no indication of a journey to hell before this.
Also, merh need not be a comparative adjective. A comparative adjective is syntactically improbable, if not impossible: the comparative adjective is in attributive position to merh. If one were to ignore such a syntactical feature in, say, Matt , the meaning there would be 'you have neglected the matters which are weightier than the law" instead of 'you have neglected the weightier matters of the law". Although the burial view is possible, it does not seem probable.
If thV ghV is a possessive or partitive genitive, the use of lowermost parts as a comparative adjective would seem to indicate something lower than the burial within a cave. The incarnational view has both a grammatical basis, and makes sense within the context of Ephesians 4.
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The author's point is the great expansion of Christ's conquest, which will be further illustrated in the next verse. This verse makes it clear that the one Who ascended to heaven and has given gifts to men, is the same One Who descended to the earth in the incarnation and walked among men. Verse 10 The same one who descended is also the one who ascended high above all of heaven so that He might fill all things.
This verse is the end of Paul's interpolation between vs. It also begins a sentence that does not end until the end of v. Paul is known for his long, expanded sentences. Verses are all connected logically in Paul's mind. O katabaV is an aorist participle. It is being used substantively meaning, the one who descended. The aorist participle is antecedent in time to the main verb estin , which is present tense. This merely emphasizes the historicity of Christ's descent.
Christ descended before the writing of this epistle. AutoV is being used as an identical adjective indicating that the one who descended is the same individual as the one who ascended. The very Christ that descended is the same Christ who ascended into the heavens. That he might fill, in the Greek, is a ina clause with the subjunctive. This construction is used to indicate purpose. The meaning here is not that Christ fills all things as a result of His ascension, but that He ascended so that He would fill all things. He ascended high above all of heaven , probably referring to the Jewish concept of various levels of heaven See II Corinthians , the three levels being the earth, the atmosphere, and heaven as we think of it.
Paul may be using heaven in reference to the atmosphere to say that Christ ascended far above any place in the sky, into heaven itself. As a result of this ascension Christ now fills all things. Paul made a similar statement in when he spoke of the power of Christ's resurrection which put all principality, might, power, dominion, every other thing under His feet. Christ is now above all. By demonstrating Christ' descent to the earth from heaven, and then the ascension back to heaven, Paul successfully demonstrated Christ's greatness over all.
He is greater than anything of the earth because He descended to it from heaven, and He is greater than any heavenly principalities and powers because He ascended back into heaven to fill all things.
Christ's power is unmatchable and the church should be privileged to have Christ as the Head of the church Verse 11 And on the one hand He gave some apostles, and on the other hand some prophets, and some evangelists, and some shepherds and teachers,. Paul used the personal pronoun autoV along with the third person plural edwken to intensify the fact that Christ was the author of these five offices, meaning he gave. Christ gave some apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. In the Greek Paul used the correlative conjunctions paired men and de , expressing the idea on the one hand and on the other hand.
The construction makes two different assertions, which mildly contrast one another. Usually it notifies the reader that the statement followed by de is in contrast to some degree to the statement following men , or is at the very least of a different character to the first. Here the men appears before apostle, while de appears before prophet, evangelist, and pastor. It is possible grammatically that Paul considered the office of an apostle to be different from the rest of the offices. An apostoloV apostle is merely a messenger. Although it is a cognate of the verb apostellw, meaning I send , the noun did not mean "one who is sent" in the first-century.
It simply meant messenger. Second Corinthians speak of certain brethren sent to Corinth as being messengers of the churches. This is the word for apostle. These individuals do not seem to be of the ordained or recognized group of apostles, but are called so because of their function of delivering messages. Another instance occurs in Philippians where Epaphroditus is said to be the Philippian's messenger who was sent to Paul to minister to his needs.
Here, the idea of one who is sent may be seen to some extent, but it still can be seen that Epaphroditus gave Paul the message concerning the status of the church in Philippi, and the gift that was prepared for him. It has been hotly debated, especially in more recent times, whether or not the office of apostle still exists.
Those who favor their present existence argue for their viewpoint from two primary passages: I Corinthians and Ephesians , Those who argue against present day apostles will commonly cite Ephesians and First we will examine the modern-day apostle argument. This passage in Ephesians chapter four is the best support for modern apostles.
It is argued that these offices, which are gifts to the church, are given to individuals in every generation. The crucial hinge is , where Paul uses the temporal adverb mecri , meaning until. It is understood that these gift ministries are given to do a specific job , until the body of Christ reaches a certain stage of maturity These marks of maturity that the ministry is striving to perfect the saints to includes the unity of the faith, the knowledge of God's Son, a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of Christ's fullness, so that the body will no longer be prey to false doctrine and false teachers It is apparent that this "progress list" will never be accomplished while the church is on this earth, but awaits fulfillment at Christ's parousia, and our glorification.
Just taking the unity of the faith by itself shows that the body of Christ can never attain to this list. Even if every member in the body of Christ believed exactly alike, as soon as another soul is born into the kingdom of God, the unity would be destroyed. It would take discipling of that soul to bring the unity once more. Since this process continues all the time all over the world, the church can never have unity of the faith.
This being so, it necessitates the existence of the gift-ministries Jesus gave to the church on His ascension. First Corinthians is also cited as a proof-text for modern-day apostles. Here Paul said, "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
Apostles, prophets, and teachers are people, while miracles, healings, helps, governments, and tongues are not. They are deeds. Two points make this verse very important. First, Paul made it clear that God has set some people in the church to hold various offices. Since the church continued to exist after the Twelve apostles and Paul had passed away, apostles would still continue to exist, because God has set the office of an apostle into the structure of the church. In other words, apostles weren't just a certain group of people hand-picked by the Lord to start the church, but apostles are an ordained office that Jesus has given to the church, of the which He will call individuals to fill it, for as long as the church continues on earth.
The second important part of this verse is Paul's use of firstly, secondly, and thirdly. These words indicate a hierarchical structure of authority within the church. Apostles head the list as the most authoritative office, and it may be implied they have the most important purpose in the kingdom.
It is argued that if apostles are part of the authority structure of the church, followed in succession by others, why would God do away with them simply because the original Twelve and Paul have passed off the scene? If the office of the apostle was so important to the church, that they were given the greatest amount of authority, for the edification of the body II Corinthians , how could the church fulfill its purpose without them? If they were so necessary in the beginning of the church, why are they no longer necessary? When looking at the functions they performed in the church, why would we not need them anymore?
They planted churches, ordained elders, taught the doctrine of Jesus, decided theological issues, and worked mighty miracles. These things are still needed in our day, therefore apostles are still needed in our day. Although these are not the only arguments presented, they are the most important arguments.
It will be sufficient to end the discussion here, and move on to the argument of the opposing side. Those who deny the notion of modern-day apostles commonly resort to Ephesians where Paul said, "And [you] are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together grows to a holy temple in the Lord: in whom you also are built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.
It is argued that this foundational role of the church has already been accomplished by the Twelve and Paul, through the writing of the NT Scriptures, and establishment of the church upon the earth. Since their foundational role has been completed, the need for their office and ministry is no longer needed. First, it is brief while some commentaries are unnecessarily wordy and verbose. Second, it is Pentecostal in outlook. This implies that we generally adhere to the doctrine of biblical inerrancy and adopt a literalist approach to the interpretation of the Bible.
Ephesians ranks very high among the theological literature of the Christian Church. It has been regarded by some as the believers bank and the treasure house of the Bible. It is perhaps the grandest of all Pauls epistles.
Matthew N. Romans: Life Application Bible Commentary. Add To Cart 0. Jesus Christ Our Lord. Whether they are addressed to an individual or a church, Paul's letters offer a firsthand account of daily life and challenges experienced by early believers. This revised commentary provides pastors and students with a detailed exegesis of Paul's correspondence; references to translations and original languages; book introductions; textual notes; transliterated Semitic and Greek words; and a concise bibliography. Related Products. Willem A. Ross, J.
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Kaiser, Jr. John H. X Todd D. Robert L. He is the author or coauthor of numerous books and other works, including the commentaries on 1 and 2 Thessalonians in the Holt series.