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Eph 1:1-2
(1) Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
(2) Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
(King James Version also referred to as KJV)

The first two verses contain three of the most important words in the foundation of the new life in Christ:

SAINTS (hagios)  "set apart ones"  also translated "holy"

One of the great doctrinal words of this epistle, this word was commonly used in the pagan Greek religious terminology. Not only is it one of the great doctrinal words in the epistle to the Ephesians, it is also one of the great doctrinal words of Christianity, and one of the most misunderstood. In order to fully understand it’s "Theological" meaning today, we must first understand what it meant then, when it was first used in Holy Scripture.

In the Greek culture of A.D. 62 it meant "devoted to the gods."

1. A Building - they would build a magnificent temple and devote it to a certain god. The building was thereby set apart from any secular use, and separated to a religious purpose. It was consecrated to the worship of that particular Greek god. The building was therefore holy. Not holy in the sense that it was pure, for the Greek temples were filled with immoral practices that were part of their religious worship (the temple at Corinth housed 3000 "sacred" harlots). It was holy in the sense of being non-secular, and therefore religious in nature, set apart for the worship of the particular Greek divinity.
2. A Gift - a Greek worshipper would bring an offering to his god. He devoted it to that god. It was therefore "holy," being set apart solely for the use of the god to which it was given.
3. A Person - hagios was also used for people who were devoted to the service of a god such as the pagan priests, priestesses and "sacred harlots." Since they were consecrated, non-secular in character, distinctively religious in nature, they were holy. They were set apart to the worship and service of that god.

In applying this word to believers, God takes it to a higher plane of existence.

The words saint, sanctify, sanctification, hallow, holy, holiness in the New Testament are all translations of this same Greek root, hagi. It describes both the initial act at salvation and the ongoing process as the believer grows in faith and practice:

Positional Sanctification - the Holy Spirit takes the believer out of the "first Adam" (fallen humanity) and places the believer in the "Last Adam" (Christ). This takes place immediately when we place our faith in the Lord Jesus as our Savior.
Progressive Sanctification - this is the process that continues throughout the earthly life of the believer in which the believer is being continually conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We may not be perfect yet, but positionally, and because of Calvary, He has taken our imperfection and given us His perfection.

        We are "saints," not because we are perfect, but because we are "set apart for God."
     We are "saints," not because we are perfect, but because He is perfect.

However, we are not to be content in an imperfect state:

As Adam Clark wrote: "Saint properly signifies a ‘holy person,’ and such the Gospel of Christ requires every man to be, and such every true believer is, both in heart and life; but ‘saint’ appears to have been as ordinary a denomination of a believer in Christ in those primitive times, as the term Christian is now. Yet many had the name who had not the thing."

We can take a lesson from the study of Corinthians, where they were called "saints" (as to their standing), and yet they were not living lives "set apart" unto God (as to their state). We need to take heed lest we find ourselves "Christians (Christ’s ones) in name only, and not living lives truly set apart unto Christ.

Strong’s definition of "hagios": "sacred (physically, pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially, consecrated): (most) holy (one, thing), saint."

It is important to notice that this is coupled with faithfulness in verse one.

The Amplified Bible: "... to the saints (the consecrated, set-apart ones) ... faithful and loyal and steadfast in Christ Jesus"


(charis)  "undeserved favor"

The Greek scholar, Archbishop Trench, in his "Synonyms of the New Testament" says of this word, "It is hardly too much to say that the Greek mind has in no word uttered itself and all that was at its heart more distinctly than in this." This he said of the word "grace" as it was used by the Greeks in New Testament times.

        The Heart of God
Wuest observes: "In the case of the use of the same word in the Greek New Testament, we can repeat the Greek scholar’s words, substituting the word ‘God’ for the word ‘Greek.’ ‘It is hardly too much to say that the mind of God has in no word uttered itself and all that was in His heart more distinctly than in this.’"

        A Free Gift
Aristotle states that "charis" is: given freely, has expectation of return, and its only motive is in the bounty and free-heartedness of the giver.

Charis was also used to describe an act that was beyond the ordinary course of what might be expected, and was therefore admirable. 
Also, this favor was always done to a friend.

Once again, God takes the human word to a higher level of meaning. Romans 5:8 & 10 says: "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us ... when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son" [NIV]

Wuest writes: "Thus, the word ‘charis’ comes to its highest and most exalted content of meaning in the New Testament. It refers to God’s offer of salvation with all that that implies, which salvation was procured at Calvary’s Cross with all the personal sacrifice which that included, offered to one who is His bitter enemy, and who is not only undeserving of that salvation but deserves condign [deserved] punishment for his sins, offered without any expectation of return, but given out of the bounty and free heartedness of the giver. This means that there is no room for good works on the part of the sinner as a means whereby he might retain that salvation. Paul sets grace over against works as things directly in opposition to one another so far as the means of salvation is concerned (Rom. 4:4, 14; 11:6). But Paul is very careful to make plain that good works naturally issue from and are required by grace (Titus 2:11, 12)."

Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines grace: "Favor or kindness shown without regard to the worth or merit of the one who receives it and in spite of what that same person deserves."


(eirene)  To set at one again, to join, quietness, rest

This is another word rich in meaning. The Greek verb means "to join." 
When things are disjointed, there is a lack of harmony and well being. Hamlet cried, "The times are out of joint. O, cursed spite that I was ever born to set them right."

Creamer defines peace: "... a state of untroubled, undisturbed well-being." It is used in contrast to strife, and to denote the absence or end of strife.


- PEACE WITH GOD - BELIEVING FAITH Believing Faith = Justifying Peace

Jesus "made peace through the blood of His cross" (Col. 1:20) in that He by His death, satisfied the just demands of the law which we broke, thereby making it possible for a righteous and holy God to bestow mercy upon a believing sinner and do so without violating His justice. This bound together again the believing sinner and God, thus making peace. The law of God no longer has anything against him, and he can look up into the Father’s face unafraid and unashamed.


- PEACE OF GOD - YIELDING FAITH Yielding Faith = Sanctifying Peace

The letter to the Ephesians was written to those who were already experiencing "justifying peace." Here he is speaking of that state of untroubled, undisturbed tranquility and well-being produced in the heart of the yielded believer by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22).

Eph 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

Spiritual Blessings

The amazing thing is that while we are still physically here on earth in this life, as believers are capable of enjoying the heavenly blessings.

These blessings are "Spirit-produced"

They come from heaven & the heavenly realm
They are "in Christ"

They are complete - "every" blessing

Wuest says: "The phrase [in Christ] expresses the supreme idea that pervades the Epistle. Here it qualifies the whole statement of the blessing in its bestowal, its nature, and its seat. The divine blessing has its ground and reason in Christ, so that apart from Him it could have no relation to us. It is ours by reason of our being in Him as our Representative and Head."

Lightfoot: "... by virtue of our incorporation in, our union with, Christ."

Meyer: "In Him lay the cause that God blessed us with every spiritual blessing, since His act of redemption is the meritorious cause of this divine bestowal of blessing."


Throughout the letter to the Ephesians, we find over and over the pre-designed plan and purposes of God being fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He is the qualifier. It is in Him and Him alone that we have access to the heavenly promises, blessings, peace, justification, and all things God has designed for the redeemed. It by His blood and our faith in Him.

In the first chapter alone we find in Christ:

vs 3 - All spiritual blessings
vs 4 - We have been chosen
vs 5 - We have been predestined to be Sons
vs 6 - We have been accepted
vs 7 - Redemption
vs 7 - Forgiveness of sins
vs 8 - All Wisdom
vs 8 - All Understanding
vs 10 - All things gathered together in one
vs 11 - We obtained an inheritance
vs 11 - All things work according to his will
vs 12 - We are to the Praise of His Glory
vs 13 - We were sealed with Holy Spirit of promise
vs 20 - The working of His mighty power
vs 23 - We are far above all things
Eph 1:4-6
(4)  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
(5)  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
(6)  To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

1:4According as He hath chosen us

According as

(kathos)  in conformity with the fact

Vincent says: "His blessing is in conformity with the fact that He chose."                    God's Long-range Purpose

Wuest quotes Expositors: "Here ‘Kathos’ designates the ground of the blessing and so is also the note of its grandeur. The blessing proceeded on the divine election, and took effect in accordance with that. It has its foundation, therefore, in eternity, and is neither an incidental thing nor an afterthought of God."

Clarke notes: "As he has decreed from the beginning of the world, and has kept in view from the commencement of the religious system of the Jews, ... to bring us Gentiles to the knowledge of this glorious state of salvation by Christ Jesus. The Jews considered themselves an elect or chosen people, and wished to monopolize the whole of the Divine love and beneficence. The apostle here shows that God had the Gentiles as much in the contemplation of his mercy and goodness as he had the Jews; and the blessings of the Gospel, now so freely dispensed to them, were the proof that God had thus chosen them, and that his end in giving them the Gospel was the same which he had in view by giving the law to the Jews ... that they might be holy and without blame before him. And as his object was the same in respect to them both, they should consider that, as he loved them, so they should love one another."

1:5  -  He Predestined us   (NIV)




The doctrine of predestination is probably one of the most hotly debated and controversial topics in the Christian world.

Here "predestination" is used to point out God’s fixed purpose which was to bestow on the believers, whether Jew or Gentile, the blessing of the adoption of sons by Jesus Christ.

As Clarke points out, the blessing of the adoption of sons by Jesus Christ was now offered to the Gentiles without circumcision or any of the other Mosaic rites. This was within God’s original design since, as verse 4 points out, God had formed this purpose before He had given the law - it was planned before the foundation of the earth.

1: 6



  from agape (agape) Referring to the Lord Jesus

From the same Greek word found in John 3:16, Romans 5:5, 8, Galatians 5:22 and I John 4:8 It speaks of the love that God is and with which He loves the lost, the love which is the product of the Holy spirit in the heart of the yielded believer. The perfect tense speaks of an action completed in past time having present, and in a context like this one, permanent results.

The English translation into 3 words "in the Beloved" are actually from one Greek word which is a participle in the perfect tense, and as Wuest says, is "... locative of sphere. God bestowed on us the grace which saved us, and did so in the sphere of the Lord Jesus, His Person and His work on the cross. His grace could not operate in our salvation apart from the atoning death of our Lord, for God is not only a loving God, but a righteous and just God who cannot pass by sin, but must require that it be paid for. Only thus can He manifest His grace."

Eph 1:7-8
(7) In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
(8) Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

1: 7

REDEMPTION    To ransom in full   [Strong]

Thayer’s definition: "to redeem one by paying the price, to let one go free on receiving the price."

        By Christ Our Kinsman    (Purchased)
The redemption which is the grand subject of all revelation, and especially of the New Testament (Romans 3:24), viz., from the power, guilt, and penal consequences of sin (Mat. 1:21). If a man were unable to redeem himself from being a bond servant, his kinsman might redeem him (Lev. 25:48). Hence, antitypically the son of God became the son of man, that as our kinsman He might redeem us (Mat. 20:28). Another "redemption" follows, viz., that "of the purchased possession" hereafter (v 14). Through His blood - (Ch 2:13) - as the instrument; the propitiation, i.e., the consideration (devised by His own love) for which He, who was justly angry (Isa 12:1), becomes propitious to us; the expiation, the price paid to Divine justice for our sin (Acts 20:28; Romans 3:25; I Cor 6:20; Col 1:20; I Pet 1:18,19.) (Jamieson, Fausset & Brown)

        By Christ Our Scape-goat     (Released)
This redemption is defined as "the forgiveness of sins." The word "forgiveness" is ‘aphesis" from "aphiemi," "to part." The noun "aphesis," used in relation to sins, means "a release, the letting them go as if they had not been committed, thus forgiveness, a remission of their penalty" (Thayer). Trench says that the image underlying the verb is that of releasing a prisoner (Isa 61:1), or letting go, as of a debt (Deut 15:3). One is reminded of the goat who was offered as a sin-offering on the Day of Atonement, and of the other goat upon which was placed the sins of the people (symbolically) and which was let go in the wilderness never to be seen again by Israel, the latter goat typifying that aspect of redemption in which the sins of the human race were put away, never to be charged against the individual again. All of which means that sinners are lost today, not because they sin, but because they have not availed themselves of the salvation which is in Christ Jesus. God’s forgiveness of sin refers therefore to His act of putting sin away on a judicial basis, to His remitting the guilt and penalty.

        Unlimited Forgiveness
This forgiveness is "according to the riches of His grace," The words "according to" are the translation of "kata," a preposition which in its local meaning has the idea of "down." The word "down" speaks of domination.
  The word "domination" speaks of control. The degree of this forgiveness was controlled, dominated by the riches, (ploutos) wealth, abundance, plenitude of God’s grace. This forgiveness is therefore a complete, an unqualified, an unchanging one, since it is controlled by the plenitude of God’s grace, and that plenitude is infinite in proportion. Expositors comments: "The freeness of this divine favor in the form of grace, the unmerited nature of the divine goodness, is what Paul most frequently magnifies with praise and wonder. Here it is the mighty measure of the largesse, the grace in its quality of riches, that is introduced.


According to ... Grace IN CHRIST

1:8    Abounded                    MORE than enough

The word "abounded" is "perisseuo," = "to exceed a fixed number or measure, to be over and above a certain number or measure, to exist or be at hand in abundance" (Thayer). Moulton and Milligan give as the papyri usage, the meaning of the verb, "to remain over," and the meaning of the adjective, "over and above, superfluous," and quote extracts as follows: "more than enough has been written; if you find any purchasers of this surplus donkeys;" of the noun they say, "superfluity." Thus, the verb means "to exist in superfluity, to super-abound." The translation reads "which (grace) He super-abounded to (eis) us." That is, God’s grace was manifested to us in superabundance. It is an oversize grace. it is more than enough to save and keep saved for time and eternity, every sinner who comes to God in Christ Jesus. Paul uses this same verb in Rom 5:20 but prefixes the preposition "huper" which means "above," and the translation reads: "Where sin existed in abundance, grace existed in super-abundance, and then some on top of that." 

Eph 1:9-12
(9) Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
(10) That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
(11) In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
(12) That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

1:9    Mystery of Redemption             Fathomless Mystery

God’s grace is manifested in redemption is a mystery in virtue of its riches and depth - as the expression of God’s very nature. The mystery of the redemption in Christ, belonging to the eternal plan of God, could be known to men only through revelation - "making known."   Expositors translates "the mystery touching or pertaining to His will."    The word "will" is the translation, not of "boule" (a desire based upon the reason), but "thelama’ (a desire based upon the emotions). God’s will or desire here, comes from His heart of love.

This will or desire is "according to His good pleasure." This desire on God’s part is dominated by His good pleasure (eudokia). 

This Greek word is made up of

dokeo "to seem, to be accounted"
It is often used in the question, "What does it seem to you?" 
eu’  "well, to be well off, to prosper"
Thus ‘eudokia’ means "that which seems good or well" to one. 
God’s good pleasure, therefore, is not an arbitrary whim of a sovereign, but represents that which in the wisdom and love of God would contribute most to the well-being and blessing of the saints. 
The word means  "will, choice, delight, pleasure, satisfaction." In the case of God, all these are dictated by what is good or well. 
Thus, the delight, pleasure and satisfaction which god has in blessing the saints is found in the fact that what He does for them is dictated by what is good for them.

This good pleasure is that "which He hath purposed in Himself." As Expositors so aptly puts it, "The purpose is god’s own free determination, originating in His own gracious mind."

1:10    All Things 

"All things ... which are in heaven, and which are on earth." This clause is variously understood:

Some think, by "things in heaven" the Jewish state is meant; and by "things on earth" the Christian. The Jews had been long considered a divine or heavenly people; their doctrine, their government, their constitution, both civil and ecclesiastical, were all Divine or heavenly; as "the powers of the heavens," Mat 24:29, Luke 21:26, mean the Jewish rulers in Church and state, it is very possible that "the things which are in heaven" mean this same state; and as the Gentiles were considered to have nothing Divine or heavenly among them, they may be here intended by the earth, out of the corruption of which they are to be gathered by the preaching of the gospel.

But there are others who imagine that the "things in heaven" mean the angelical hosts; and "the things on earth" believers of all nations, who shall all be joined together at last in one assembly to worship God throughout eternity.

And some think that the "things in heaven" mean the saints who died before Christ’s advent, and who are not to be made perfect till the resurrection, when the full power and efficacy of Christ shall be seen in raising the bodies of believers and uniting them with their holy souls, to reign in his presence for ever.

And still others think that, as the Hebrew phrase "shamayim vehaarets," the "heavens and the earth," signifies all creatures, the words in the text are to be understood as kindreds, or tongues; Jews, Greeks, or barbarians. All that are saved of all nations (being saved in the same way, viz. by faith in Christ Jesus, without any distinction of nation or previous condition), and all gathered into one Church or assembly.

Clarke suggests that the forming one Church out of both Jews and Gentiles is that to which the apostle refers. This agrees with what is said in chapter 2:14-17. (Adam Clarke)

I submit that the Holy Ghost, which inspired the apostle, had all of the above in mind.

God’s purpose is to sum up the whole creation in Christ, 
the Head of angels, with whom He is linked by His invisible nature,
and of men with whom He is linked by His humanity;
of Jews and Gentiles;
of the living and the dead (ch. 3:15); 
of animate and inanimate creation.

Sin has disarranged the creature’s relation of subordination to God. God means to gather up all together in Christ; or as Col 1:20 says, "By Him to reconcile all things unto Himself, whether things in earth or things in heaven." Alford well says, "The Church of which the apostle here mainly treats, is subordinated to Him in the highest degree of conscious and joyful union; those who are not His spiritually, in mere subjugation, yet consciously; the inferior tribes of creation unconsciously, but objectively, all are summed up in Him" (Jamieson, Fausset & Brown)

The purpose of God, therefore, is with a view to the administration that has to do with the completion of the seasons. At the close of the Messianic Kingdom, the Great White Throne judgment will take place at which all lost human beings, fallen angels, and demons will be judged. The material universe cursed by sin will be brought back to its pristine state, the saved of the human race will live on the new earth, and the endless eternal ages will begin. This is what is meant by an administration of the completion of the seasons. God will accomplish all this restoration work in and through the Lord Jesus and His atoning death on the Cross. He is the Head, the center around which God revolves everything He does in relation to sin and salvation. (Wuest)

All Things = In Christ              

Jews & Gentiles  = One Body
Old Testament Saints & New Testament Saints  = One Holy Priesthood
All Nations of All Time = One Church

1:11    An Inheritance

    We are God's Inheritance
The best Greek texts have, not "we have obtained an inheritance,"   but   "we were made an inheritance,"   or,   "we were designated as a heritage." 
Thus, the saints are God’s heritage, His possession through the work of Christ on the Cross.

The word "counsel" is ‘boule’ which has in it the ideas of intelligence and deliberation. 
The word "will" is "a desire that springs from one’s emotions. " 
Here the emotional nature is governed by reason and deliberation. 
Expositors says: "Here, therefore, the will of God which acts in His foreordaining purpose or decree, in being declared to have its’ ‘boule’ or "counsel," is set forth as acting, not arbitrarily, but intelligently and by deliberation, not without reason, but for reasons, hidden it may be from us, yet proper to the Highest Mind and Most Perfect Moral Nature. "They err," says Hooker, "who think that of God’s will there is no reason except His will." (Wuest)

God having determined to bring both Jews and Gentiles to salvation, not by works, nor by human means or schemes, but by Jesus Christ; that salvation being defined and determined before in the divine mind, and the means by which it should be brought about all being according to His purpose, who consults not His creatures, but operates according to the counsel of His own will, that being ever wise, gracious, and good.

The original reference is still kept up here in the word ‘prooristhentes,’ being predestinated, as in the word ‘proorisas’ ver. 5. And as the apostle speaks of obtaining the inheritance, he most evidently refers to that of which the promised land was the type and pledge. And as that land was assigned to the Israelites by limit and lot, both of which were appointed by God; so the salvation now sent to the Gentiles was as expressly their lot or portion, as the promised land was that of the people of Israel. All this shows that the Israelites were a typical people; their land, the manner of possessing it, their civil and religious code, &c., all typical, and that in, by, and through them, God had fore determined, fore described, and fore ascertained a greater and more glorious people, among whom the deepest counsels of His wisdom should be manifested, and the most powerful works of His eternal mercy, grace, holiness, goodness, and truth, be fully exhibited. Thus there was nothing fortuitous in the Christian scheme, all was the result of infinite counsel and design. (Clarke)

Old Testament = Land
New Testament = Spirit

Both are to conquer evil. In each it was only those who believed that were able to appropriate the promise.

Eph 1:13-14
(13) In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

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

1:13    Sealed

The word "sealed" is ‘sphragizo,’ = "to set a seal upon, mark with a seal." The papyri afford the following examples of its use:

If the fruit is sealed, then everything is in order: the sealing is the last thing that must be done prior to delivering
Let him seal a sample (obviously to prevent the corn from being tampered with during its transit)
"I gave the letter sealed (to the messenger)
Send the ass to be branded (sealed) (Moulton and Milligan)

The Scofield Bible footnote is helpful: "The Holy Spirit is Himself the seal. In the symbolism of Scripture a seal signifies:

A finished transaction (Jer. 32:9, 10; John 17:4; 19:30)
Ownership (Jer. 32:11, 12; II Tim. 2:19)
Security  (Esther 8:8; Dan. 6:17; Eph. 4:30)

It was customary among all nations, when a person purchased goods of any kind, to mark with his seal that which he had bought, in order that he might know it, and be able to claim it if mixed with the goods of others; to this custom the apostle may here allude but it was also customary to set a seal upon what was dedicated to God, or what was to be offered to Him in sacrifice. The Jews themselves speak of the seal of God, which they term ‘emeth,’ truth, and which they consider as a representation of the endless perfections of God. As the apostle is here speaking of the doctrine of truth, which came by the Holy Spirit, and is sealed on the souls of believers by this spirit, he may have in view the Jewish notion, which is at once both correct and elevated. (Clarke)

A seal impressed on a document gives undoubted validity to the contract in it (Jn. 3:33; 6:27). So the sense of "the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost" (Rom. 5:5), and the sense of adoption given through the spirit of regeneration (Rom. 8:15, 16), assure believers of God’s good-will to them. The spirit, like a seal, impresses on the soul at regeneration the image of our Father. The "sealing" by the Holy Spirit is spoken of as past once for all. The witnessing to our hearts that we are the children of God, and heirs (v. 11), is the spirit’s present testimony, the "earnest of the (coming) inheritance" (Rom. 8:16-18). (Jamieson, Faussett & Brown)

We were created with His "seal" - in His likeness - but lost it spiritually through sin. It is restored through faith in the blood of His cross.

1:14    The Guarantee

The Holy Spirit is described as "the earnest of our inheritance." Vincent defines it as "caution-money deposited by a purchaser in pledge of full payment." The papyri give us the following examples:

A woman who was selling a cow received 1000 drachmae as earnest money
Regarding Lampon the mouse-catcher, I paid him for you as earnest money 8 drachmae in order that he may catch the mice while they are with young (Moulton & Milligan)
They say: "the above vernacular usage amply confirms the New Testament sense of an "earnest" or a part given in advance of what will be bestowed fully afterwards."

The Holy spirit is this guarantee until "the redemption of the purchased possession." The words "purchased possession" are ‘peripoiesis,’ which "expresses the general idea of preserving, acquiring, gaining for one’s self, without specific reference to a price" (Expositors). 
It refers to the saints as God’s heritage which He preserves for Himself. 
The final redemption of the possession is glorification, when the physical body will be the recipient of the work of salvation. 
The soul and spirit are now the recipients of the saving grace of God. The body will experience that work at the Rapture when the first resurrection takes place. This will result to the praise of God’s glory. (Wuest)

It is translated:

(King James Version)    ...ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
(New American Standard Bible)    ...you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.
(New King James Version)    ...you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
(New International Version)    ...you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-to the praise of his glory.
(Revised Standard Version)    ...you also... were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,  which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
(American Standard Version)    ...ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,  which is an earnest of our inheritance, unto the redemption of (God's) own possession, unto the praise of his glory. 

1:15-23    Prayer to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ

Eph 1:15-23
(15) Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
(16) Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
(17) That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
(18) The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
(19) And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
(20) Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
(21) Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
(22) And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,
(23) Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.

(15-17) The Cause (their faith and love) and the sum (the knowledge of Him) of the prayer
(18-23) The Effect   (their enlightenment) and the elements forming the sum of the prayer

Translation by Wuest: 
"That the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of the glory, might give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the sphere of a full knowledge of Him."

1:18-23    The Effect and Elements of the Prayer

(18) Knowledge of the hope of His calling
(18) Knowledge of the riches of His glory
(19-23) Knowledge of the greatness of His power

1:18, 19    Eyes be Enlightened

As Philo expresses it:  "What the eye is to the body, the understanding is to the soul; and that as the eye is not light in itself, and can discern nothing but by the means of light shining, not only on the objects to be viewed, but into the eye itself; so the understanding of man can discern no sacred thing of or by itself, but sees by the influence of the spirit of wisdom and revelation; for without the influence of God’s Holy spirit no man ever became wise unto salvation, no more than a man ever discerned an object (no matter how perfect soever his eye might have been), without the instrumentality of light." (Clarke)

The Greek is, "the eyes of your heart,"  the heart referring not only to the emotional nature, but also to the reason and to the faculty of intelligence. The words, "being enlightened," are a perfect participle in the Greek text, referring to a past complete act having present results. The translation reads, "the eyes of your heart having been enlightened with the present result that they are in a state of illumination." That is, Paul is praying that a permanent work of the Holy spirit be done in the human spirits of these saints, that their inner spiritual capacities for understanding the truth may be the recipients of a lasting benefit, and this with a view to their knowing three things:

    The Hope of His Calling
    First is that they may know "what is the hope of their calling." The word "what" is ‘tis’ not "how great," nor "of what kind," but "what" - what the hope really is. "The ‘His calling" is the call of which God is the author, and that is an effectual call. ...The hope is not the object hoped for, but the attitude of mind, the subjective hope, the assured Christian expectation" (Expositors).

    Who Is Called
I Cor 1:2  KJV All who call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord
I Cor 1:26 The Foolish
I Cor 1:27 The Weak
I Cor 1:28 The Despised
    The Calling
Rom 1:7 To be Saints (Set Apart) 
Rom 8:28 According to His Purpose
I Cor 1:9 To the fellowship of Jesus Christ
I Cor 7:15 To Peace
Gal 1:6 Into the Grace of Christ
Gal 5:13 Unto Liberty
Col 3:15 In One Body
I Thess 2:12 Unto His Kingdom & Glory
I Thess 4:7 Unto Holiness
II 2:14 To Obtain the Glory of our Lord Jesus Christ
I Tim 6:15 To lay hold on Eternal Life
I Pet 1:15 Be Holy in Everything
I Pet 2:21 To follow in His Steps
    The Hope
Rom 8:30 Those who are called are Justified
Rom 8:30 Those who are called are Glorified
Rom 9:24, 25 Those who are called are called God's People
Heb 9:15 Those who are called Receive the Promise of Eternal Inheritance
I Pet 2:9 We are called Into His Marvelous Light
I Pet 3:9 Those who are called will Inherit a Blessing
I Pet 5:10 We are Unto his Eternal Glory

    The Riches of His Glory
    Second is that they may know "what is the wealth of the glory of His inheritance in the saints." The words "in the saints" are locative of sphere. God’s inheritance is within the sphere of the saints. That is, the phrase "in the sphere of the saints" is definitive of the word "inheritance. This takes us back to verse 11 where Paul says we saints were made God’s inheritance. In verse 18, Paul prays that we might know how precious the saints are in God’s eyes as His inheritance. He is glorified in His saints, and this glory is valuable. It is part of the wealth that God possesses, dearer to Him than all the splendors of creation.

    The Greatness of His Power
    Third is that the saints might know "what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe." Expositors comments: "In these three clauses Paul leads the readers on from the hope itself which becomes theirs in virtue of their being called of God, to the splendor of the inheritance to which the hope points, and from this again to that in God Himself which makes the fulfillment of the hope and the possession of the inheritance certain, namely, the limitless efficiency which is His prerogative." This power of God working in our behalf with reference to our salvation is not thought of here as operating only in the future, but also at present. The word "exceeding" is ‘huperballon,’ literally, "a throwing beyond," thus ;metaphorically, "superiority, excellence." It speaks of power here that is beyond measure, more than enough, of surpassing power.

Paul uses four words here, all having the general meaning of power:

power dunamis passive power natural ability, general and inherent
working energeia active power power in exercise, operative power, quantum of force, momentum or velocity
mighty kratos active power manifested strength, might, efficiency in action
power ischuos passive power  strength, power as an endowment, simple efficiency

To put these together we have, "and what is the super abounding greatness of His inherent power (dunamis)   to us who are believing ones as measured by the operative energy (energeia) of the manifested strength (kratos) of His might (ischuos) ." (Wuest)

Paul prays that they might KNOW = by experience


"(17) ...I always pray ... that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation ... in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him,
(18)  by having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints - His set-apart ones.
(19)  And [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His might strength,
(20)  which He exerted in Christ when he raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His [own] right hand in the heavenly [places]"

1:21    We are "Far Above"

The word "world" is not ‘kosmon,’ "the created universe," but ‘aion,’ "age". It speaks of duration; it speaks of this present state of things, and in the words, "but also in that which is to come," of the future state of things. (Wuest)

The difficulty in this verse does not arise from the words themselves, the meaning of each being easily understood, but from the Sense in which the apostle uses them.

Some think he has reference here to the different orders among good and evil angels; he is superior to all the Former , and rules all the latter.
Others think he refers to Earthly Governments; and as ‘arche’ "principality," the first word, signifies the most sovereign and extensive kind of dominion; and ‘keriotes’ "lordship," the last word, signifies the Lowest Degree of authority; hence we are to understand that to our Lord, in His human nature, are subjected the Highest, the Intermediate, and the Lowest orders of beings in the universe.
Still others say that the apostle has in view, by whatsoever "is named in this world," all the dignitaries of the Jewish Church; and by what is named "in the world to come," all the dignities that should be found in the Christian church.
Schoettgen  supposes that the "apostle’s ‘arche’ means the same as the Hebrew ‘Nesiim’ among the Jews, whose chief business it was to clear and decide all contentions which arose concerning traditions and legal controversies.
That Power is the same as ‘tsorba,’ he who possesses Authority to propound, expound, persuade, convince, and refute.
That Might answers to ‘rabbanoth,’ signifying all the class of rabbins, whose office it was to expound the law, and teach the people generally.
That Dominion answers to ‘mar,’ which signifies a person above the lower orders of men.

And he observes that Jesus Christ, after His resurrection, called fishermen, publicans, and men from the lowest orders of the people, to the work of the ministry; and made them instruments of confounding and overturning all the Jewish rulers, rabbins, and doctors.

Some philosophizing teachers of the school of Simon Magus (Acts chapter 8), in Western Asia Minor, had, according to Irenaeus and Epiphanius, taught their hearers these names of various ranks of angels. Paul shows that the truest wisdom is to know Christ as reigning above them all. (Jamieson, Fausset & Brown)

1:22    The Head of the Body

"Head" implies not only His dominion, but our union; therefore, while we look upon Him at the Right hand of God, we see ourselves in heaven (Rev. 3:21). For the Head and body are not severed by anything intervening, else the body would cease to be the body, and the Head cease to be the Head. (Jamieson, Fausset & Brown)

        Neither the Head nor the body can exist independently without the other.

1:23    We are His Fullness

The word "fullness" is ‘pleroma.’ Thayer gives the following: "that which is or has been filled; used of a ship inasmuch as it is filled (i.e. manned) with sailors, rowers, and soldiers; in the New Testament, the body of believers, as that which is filled with the presence, power, agency, riches of God and of Christ." Alford says, "the meaning being, that the church, being the body of Christ, is dwelt in and filled with God: it is His ‘pleroma’ (fullness) in an especial manner - His fullness abides in it and is exemplified by it." Expositors comments: "The idea is that the church is not only Christ’s body but that which is filled by Him. In Co. 1:19; 2:9, the whole ‘pleroma’ or every plenitude of the Godhead, the very fullness of the Godhead, the totality of the divine powers and qualities, is said to be recognized as Framer and Governor of the world, and there is neither need nor place for any intermediate beings as agents in those works of creating, upholding and administering. Here the conception is that this plenitude of the divine powers and qualities which is in Christ is imparted by Him to His Church, so that the latter is pervaded by His presence, animated by His life, filled with His gifts and energies and graces.

"Which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all - for in that body lives the full measure of Him Who makes everything complete, and Who fills everything everywhere with Himself."


End of Chapter 1


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