Bible Commentary in 8 Volumes
Paul the Apostle to the
NOTES ON CHAP 6.
Verse 1. Children, obey your parents— This is a duty with which God will never dispense; he commands it, and one might think that gratitude, from a sense of the highest obligations, would most strongly enforce the command.
In the Lord— This clause is wanting in several reputable MSS., and in same versions. In the Lord may mean, on account of the commandment of the Lord; or, as far as the parents commands are according to the will and word of God. For surely no child is called to obey any parent if he give unreasonable or unscriptural commands.
Verse 2. Honor thy father— See the notes on Exodus 20:12, etc., where this subject, together with the promises and threatenings connected with it, is particularly considered, and the reasons of the duty laid down at large.
Verse 4. Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath— Avoid all severity; this will hurt your own souls, and do them no good; on the contrary, if punished with severity or cruelty, they will be only hardened and made desperate in their sins. Cruel parents generally have bad children. He who corrects his children according to God and reason will feel every blow on his own heart more sensibly than his child feels it on his body.
Parents are called to correct; not to punish, their children. Those who punish them do it from a principle of revenge; those who correct them do it from a principle of affectionate concern.
Bring them up, etc.— ektrefete auta en paideia kai nouqesia kuriou? literally, Nourish them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. The mind is to be nourished with wholesome discipline and instruction, as the body is with proper food. paideia, discipline, may refer to all that knowledge which is proper for children, including elementary principles and rules for behavior, etc. nouqesia, instruction, may imply whatever is necessary to form the mind; to touch, regulate, and purify the passions; and necessarily includes the whole of religion. Both these should be administered in the Lord — according to his will and word, and in reference to his eternal glory. All the important lessons and doctrines being derived from his revelation, therefore they are called the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Verse 5. Servants, be obedient— Though doulov frequently signifies a slave or bondman, yet it often implies a servant in general, or any one bound to another, either for a limited time, or for life. Even a slave, if a Christian, was bound to serve him faithfully by whose money he was bought, howsoever illegal that traffic may be considered. In heathen countries slavery was in some sort excusable; among Christians it is an enormity and a crime for which perdition has scarcely an adequate state of punishment.
According to the flesh— Your masters in secular things; for they have no authority over your religion, nor over your souls.
With fear and trembling— Because the law gives them a power to punish you for every act of disobedience.
In singleness of your heart— Not merely through fear of punishment, but from a principle of uprightness, serving them as you would serve Christ.
Verse 6. Not with eye-service— Not merely in their presence, when their eye is upon you, as unfaithful and hypocritical servants do, without consulting conscience in any part of their work.
Doing the will of God— Seeing that you are in the state of servitude, it is the will of God that you should act conscientiously in it.
Verse 7. With good will— met/ eunoiav? With cheerfulness; do not take up your service as a cross, or bear it as a burden; but take it as coming in the order of God’s providence, and a thing that is pleasing to him.
Verse 8. Whatsoever good thing any man doeth— Though your masters should fail to give you the due reward of your fidelity and labor, yet, as ye have done your work as unto the Lord, he will take care to give you the proper recompense.
Whether he be bond— A slave, bought with money;
Or free.— A person who has hired himself of his own free accord.
Verse 9. Ye masters, do the same things unto them— Act in the same affectionate, conscientious manner towards your slaves and servants, as they do towards you.
Forbearing threatening— If they should transgress at any time, lean more to the side of mercy than justice; and when ye are obliged to punish, let it be as light and as moderate as possible; and let revenge have no part in the chastisement, for that is of the devil, and not of God.
The words, forbearing threatening; anientev thn apeilhn, signify to mitigate, relax, or not exact threatening; that is, the threatened punishment. The sense is given above.
In Shemoth Rabba, sect. 21, fol. 120, there is a good saying concerning respect of persons: “If a poor man comes to a rich man to converse with him, he will not regard him; but if a rich man comes he will hear and rehear him. The holy and blessed God acts not thus; for all are alike before him, women, slaves, the poor, and the rich.”
Knowing that your Master also is in heaven— You are their masters, GOD is yours. As you deal with them, so GOD will deal with you; for do not suppose, because their condition on earth is inferior to yours, that God considers them to be less worthy of his regard than you are; this is not so, for there is no respect of persons with Him.
Verse 10. Finally— Having laid before you, your great and high calling, and all the doctrines and precepts of the Gospel, it is necessary that I should show you the enemies that will oppose you, and the strength which is requisite to enable you to repel them.
Be strong in the Lord— You must have strength, and strength of a spiritual kind, and such strength too as the Lord himself can furnish; and you must have this strength through an indwelling God, the power of his might working in you.
Verse 11. Put on the whole armor of God— endusasqe thn panoplian tou qeou. The apostle considers every Christian as having a warfare to maintain against numerous, powerful, and subtle foes; and that therefore they would need much strength, much courage, complete armor, and skill to use it. The panoply which is mentioned here refers to the armor of the heavy troops among the Greeks; those who were to sustain the rudest attacks, who were to sap the foundations of walls, storm cities, etc. Their ordinary armor was the shield, the helmet, the sword, and the greaves or brazen boots. To all these the apostle refers below. See on Ephesians 6:13.
The wiles of the devil.— tav meqodeiav tou diabolou? The methods of the devil; the different means, plans, schemes, and machinations which he uses to deceive, entrap, enslave, and ruin the souls of men. A man’s method of sinning is Satan’s method of ruining his soul. See on Ephesians 4:14.
Verse 12. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood— ouk estin hmin h palh prov aima kai sarka? Our wrestling or contention is not with men like ourselves: flesh and blood is a Hebraism for men, or human beings. See the note on Galatians 1:16.
The word palh implies the athletic exercises in the Olympic and other national games; and palaistra was the place in which the contenders exercised. Here it signifies warfare in general.
Against principalities— arcav? Chief rulers; beings of the first rank and order in their own kingdom.
Powers— exousiav, Authorities, derived from, and constituted by the above.
The rulers of the darkness of this world— touv kosmokratorav tou skotouv tou aiwnov toutou? The rulers of the world; the emperors of the darkness of this state of things.
Spiritual wickedness— ta pneumatika thv ponhriav? The spiritual things of wickedness; or, the spiritualities of wickedness; highly refined and sublimed evil; disguised falsehood in the garb of truth; Antinomianism in the guise of religion.
In high places.— ev toiv epouranioiv? In the most sublime stations. But who are these of whom the apostle speaks? Schoettgen contends that the rabbins and Jewish rulers are intended. This he thinks proved by the words tou aiwnov toutou, of this world, which are often used to designate the Old Testament, and the Jewish system; and the words en toiv epouranioiv, in heavenly places, which are not unfrequently used to signify the time of the NEW TESTAMENT, and the Gospel system.
By the spiritual wickedness in heavenly places, he thinks false teachers, who endeavored to corrupt Christianity, are meant; such as those mentioned by St. John, 1 John 2:19: They went out from us, but they were not of us, etc. And he thinks the meaning may be extended to all corrupters of Christianity in all succeeding ages. He shows also that the Jews called their own city µlw[ lç rç sar shel olam, kosmokratwr, the ruler of the world; and proves that David’s words, Psalm 2:2, The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, are applied by the apostles, Acts 4:26, to the Jewish rulers, arcontev, who persecuted Peter and John for preaching Christ crucified. But commentators in general are not of this mind, but think that by principalities, etc., we are to understand different orders of evil spirits, who are all employed under the devil, their great head, to prevent the spread of the Gospel in the world, and to destroy the souls of mankind.
The spiritual wickedness are supposed to be the angels which kept not their first estate; who fell from the heavenly places but are ever longing after and striving to regain them; and which have their station in the regions of the air. “Perhaps,” says Mr. Wesley, “the principalities and powers remain mostly in the citadel of their kingdom of darkness; but there are other spirits which range abroad, to whom the provinces of the world are committed; the darkness is chiefly spiritual darkness which prevails during the present state of things, and the wicked spirits are those which continually oppose faith, love, and holiness, either by force or fraud; and labor to infuse unbelief, pride, idolatry, malice, envy, anger, and hatred.” Some translate the words en toiv epouranioiv, about heavenly things; that is: We contend with these fallen spirits for the heavenly things which are promised to us; and we strive against them, that we may not be deprived of those we have.
Verse 13. Wherefore— Because ye have such enemies to contend with, take unto you — assume, as provided and prepared for you, the whole armor of God; which armor if you put on and use, you shall be both invulnerable and immortal. The ancient heroes are fabled to have had armor sent to them by the gods; and even the great armor-maker, Vulcan, was reputed to be a god himself. This was fable: What Paul speaks of is reality. See before on Ephesians 6:11.
That ye may be able to withstand— That ye may not only stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free, but also discomfit all your spiritual foes; and continuing in your ranks, maintain your ground against them, never putting off your armor, but standing always ready prepared to repel any new attack.
And having done all, to stand.— kai apanta katergasamenoi sthnai? rather, And having conquered all, stand: this is a military phrase, and is repeatedly used in this sense by the best Greek writers. So Dionys. Hal. Ant., lib. vi., page 400: kai panta polemia en oligw katergasamenoi cronw? “Having in a short time discomfited all our enemies, we returned with numerous captives and much spoil.” See many examples in Kypke. By evil day we may understand any time of trouble, affliction, and sore temptation.
As there is here allusion to some of the most important parts of the Grecian armor, I shall give a short account of the whole. It consisted properly of two sorts: 1. Defensive armor, or that which protected themselves. 2. Offensive armor, or that by which they injured their enemies. The apostle refers to both.
I. DEFENSIVE ARMOR:
perikefalaia, the HELMET; this was the armor for the head, and was of various forms, and embossed with a great variety of figures. Connected with the helmet was the crest or ridge on the top of the helmet, adorned with several emblematic figures; some for ornament, some to strike terror. For crests on ancient helmets we often see the winged lion, the griffin, chimera, etc. St. Paul seems to refer to one which had an emblematical representation of hope.
zwma, the GIRDLE; this went about the loins, and served to brace the armor tight to the body, and to support daggers, short swords, and such like weapons, which were frequently stuck in it. This kind of girdle is in general use among the Asiatic nations to the present day.
qwrax, the BREAST-PLATE; this consisted of two parts, called pterugev or wings: one covered the whole region of the thorax or breast, in which the principal viscera of life are contained; and the other covered the back, as far down as the front part extended.
knhmidev, GREAVES or brazen boots, which covered the shin or front of the leg; a kind of solea was often used, which covered the sole, and laced about the instep, and prevented the foot from being wounded by rugged ways, thorns, stones, etc.
ceiridev, GAUNTLETS; a kind of gloves that served to defend the hands, and the arm up to the elbow.
aspiv, the clypeus or SHIELD; it was perfectly round, and sometimes made of wood, covered with bullocks’ hides; but often made of metal. The aspis or shield of Achilles, made by Vulcan, was composed of five plates, two of brass, two of tin, and one of gold; so Homer, Il. U. v. 270:— epei pente ptucav hlase kullopodiwn, tav duo calkeiav, duo d/ endoqi kassiteroio, thn de mian xrushn.
Five plates of various metal, various mold, Composed the shield; of brass each outward fold, Of tin each inward, and the middle gold.
Of shields there were several sorts: gerrwn or gerra, the gerron; a small square shield, used first by the Persians.
laishion, LAISEION; a sort of oblong shield, covered with rough hides, or skins with the hair on.
pelth, the PELTA; a small light shield, nearly in the form of a demicrescent, with a small ornament, similar to the recurved leaves of a flower de luce, on the center of a diagonal edge or straight line; this was the Amazonian shield.
qureov, the scutum or OBLONG SHIELD; this was always made of wood, and covered with hides. It was exactly in the shape of the laiseion, but differed in size, being much larger, and being covered with hides from which the hair had been taken off. It was called qureov from qura, a door, which it resembled in its oblong shape; but it was made curved, so as to embrace the whole forepart of the body. The aspis and the thureos were the shields principally in use; the former for light, the latter for heavy armed troops.
II. OFFENSIVE ARMOR, OR WEAPONS; THE FOLLOWING WERE CHIEF:
egcov, enchos, the SPEAR; which was generally a head of brass or iron, with a long shaft of ash.
doru, the LANCE; differing perhaps little from the former, but in its size and lightness; being a missile used, both by infantry and cavalry, for the purpose of annoying the enemy at a distance.
xifov, the SWORD; these were of various sizes, and in the beginning all of brass. The swords of Homer’s heroes are all of this metal.
macaira, called also a sword, sometimes a knife; it was a short sword, used more frequently by gladiators, or in single combat. What other difference it had from the xiphos I cannot tell.
axinh, from which our word AXE; the common battle-axe.
pelekuv, the BIPEN; a sort of battle-axe, with double face, one opposite to the other.
korunh, an iron club or mace, much used both among the ancient Greeks and Persians.
toxon, the BOW; with its pharetra or quiver, and its stock or sheaf of arrows.
sfendonh, the SLING; an instrument in the use of which most ancient nations were very expert, particularly the Hebrews and ancient Greeks.
The arms and armor mentioned above were not always in use; they were found out and improved by degrees. The account given by Lucretius of the arms of the first inhabitants of the earth is doubtless as correct as it is natural.
Arma antiqua manus, ungues, dentesque fuere,
Et lapides, et item silvarum fragmina rami,
Et flammae, atque ignes postquam sunt cognita primum:
Posterius ferri vis est, aerisque reperta:
Sed prius aeris erat quam ferri cognitus usus:
Quo facilis magis est natura, et copia major.
Deuteronomy Rerum Nat., lib. v. ver. 1282.
Whilst cruelty was not improved by art,
And rage not furnished yet with sword or dart;
With fists, or boughs, or stones, the warriors fought;
These were the only weapons Nature taught:
But when flames burnt the trees and scorched the ground,
Then brass appeared, and iron fit to wound.
Brass first was used, because the softer ore,
And earth’s cold veins contained a greater store.
I have only to observe farther on this head, 1. That the ancient Greeks and Romans went constantly armed; 2. That before they engaged they always ate together; and 3. That they commenced every attack with prayer to the gods for success.
Verse 14. Stand therefore— Prepare yourselves for combat, having your loins girt about with truth. He had told them before to take the whole armor of God, Ephesians 6:13, and to put on this whole armor. Having got all the pieces of it together, and the defensive parts put on, they were then to gird them close to their bodies with the zwma or girdle, and instead of a fine ornamented belt, such as the ancient warriors used, they were to have truth. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the truth of God; unless this be known and conscientiously believed no man can enter the spiritual warfare with any advantage or prospect of success. By this alone we discover who our enemies are, and how they come on to attack us; and by this we know where our strength lies; and, as the truth is great, and must prevail, we are to gird ourselves with this against all false religion, and the various winds of doctrine by which cunning men and insidious devils lie in wait to deceive. Truth may be taken here for sincerity; for if a man be not conscious to himself that his heart is right before God, and that he makes no false pretences to religion, in vain does he enter the spiritual lists. This alone can give him confidence:
— Hic murus aheneus esto,
Nil conscire sibi, nulla pallescere culpa.
Let this he my brazen wall; that no man can reproach me with a crime, and that I am conscious of my own integrity.
The breast-plate of righteousness— What the qwrax or breast-plate was, see before. The word righteousness, dikaisunh, we have often had occasion to note, is a word of very extensive import: it signifies the principle of righteousness; it signifies the practice of righteousness, or living a holy life; it signifies God’s method of justifying sinners; and it signifies justification itself. Here it may imply a consciousness of justification through the blood of the cross; the principle of righteousness or true holiness implanted in the heart; and a holy life, a life regulated according to the testimonies of God. As the breast-plate defends the heart and lungs, and all those vital functionaries that are contained in what is called the region of the thorax; so this righteousness, this life of God in the soul of man, defends every thing on which the man’s spiritual existence depends. While he possesses this principle, and acts from it, his spiritual and eternal life is secure.
Verse 15. Your feet shod— The knhmidev, or greaves, have been already described; they were deemed of essential importance in the ancient armor; if the feet or legs are materially wounded, a man can neither stand to resist his foe, pursue him if vanquished, nor flee from him should he have the worst of the fight.
That the apostle has obedience to the Gospel in general in view, there can be no doubt; but he appears to have more than this, a readiness to publish the Gospel: for, How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth PEACE; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:15.
The Israelites were commanded to eat the passover with their feet shod, to show that they were ready for their journey. And our Lord commands his disciples to be shod with sandals, that they might be ready to go and publish the Gospel, as the Israelites were to go to possess the promised land. Every Christian should consider himself on his journey from a strange land to his own country, and not only stand every moment prepared to proceed, but be every moment in actual progress towards his home.
The preparation of the Gospel— The word etoimasia which we translate preparation, is variously understood: some think it means an habitual readiness in walking in the way prescribed by the Gospel; others that firmness and solidity which the Gospel gives to them who conscientiously believe its doctrines; others, those virtues and graces which in the first planting of Christianity were indispensably necessary to those who published it.
Should we take the word preparation in its common acceptation, it may imply that, by a conscientious belief of the Gospel, receiving the salvation provided by its author, and walking in the way of obedience which is pointed out by it, the soul is prepared for the kingdom of heaven.
The Gospel is termed the Gospel of peace, because it establishes peace between God and man, and proclaims peace and good will to the universe. Contentions, strife, quarrels, and all wars, being as alien from its nature and design, as they are opposed to the nature of Him who is love and compassion to man.
Verse 16. Above all, (epi pasin, over all the rest of the armor,) taking the shield of faith— In the word qureov, thureos, the apostle alludes to the great oblong shield, or scutum, which covers the whole body. See its description before. And as faith is the grace by which all others are preserved and rendered active, so it is properly represented here under the notion of a shield, by which the whole body is covered and protected. Faith, in this place, must mean that evidence of things unseen which every genuine believer has, that God, for Christ’s sake, has blotted out his sins, and by which he is enabled to call God his Father, and feel him to be his portion. It is such an appropriating faith as this which can quench any dart of the devil.
The fiery darts of the wicked.— belov, a dart, signifies any kind of missile weapon; every thing that is projected to a distance by the hand, as a javelin, or short spear; or by a bow, as an arrow; or a stone by a sling.
The fiery darts — ta belh ta pepurwmena. It is probable that the apostle alludes to the darts called falarica, which were headed with lead, in or about which some combustible stuff was placed that took fire in the passage of the arrow through the air, and often burnt up the enemy’s engines, ships, etc.; they were calculated also to stick in the shields and set them on fire. Some think that poisoned arrows may be intended, which are called fiery from the burning heat produced in the bodies of those who were wounded by them. To quench or extinguish such fiery darts the shields were ordinarily covered with metal on the outside, and thus the fire was prevented from catching hold of the shield. When they stuck on a shield of another kind and set it on fire, the soldier was obliged to cast it away, and thus became defenceless.
The fiery darts of the wicked, tou ponhrou, or devil, are evil thoughts, and strong injections, as they are termed, which in the unregenerate inflame the passions, and excite the soul to acts of transgression. While the faith is strong in Christ it acts as a shield to quench these. He who walks so as to feel the witness of God’s Spirit that he is his child, has all evil thoughts in abhorrence; and, though they pass through his mind, they never fix in his passions. They are caught on this shield, blunted, and extinguished.
Verse 17. Take the helmet of salvation— Or, as it is expressed, 1 Thessalonians 5:8, And for a helmet, the hope of salvation. It has already been observed, in the description of the Grecian armor, that on the crest and other parts of the helmet were a great variety of emblematical figures, and that it is very likely the apostle refers to helmets which had on them an emblematical representation of hope; viz. that the person should be safe who wore it, that he should be prosperous in all his engagements, and ever escape safe from battle. So the hope of conquering every adversary and surmounting every difficulty, through the blood of the Lamb, is as a helmet that protects the head; an impenetrable one, that the blow of the battle-axe cannot cleave. The hope of continual safety and protection, built on the promises of God, to which the upright follower of Christ feels he has a Divine right, protects the understanding from being darkened, and the judgment from being confused by any temptations of Satan, or subtle arguments of the sophistical ungodly. He who carries Christ in his heart cannot be cheated out of the hope of his heaven,
The sword of the Spirit— See what is said before on xifov and macaira, in the account of the Greek armor. The sword of which St. Paul speaks is, as he explains it, the word of God; that is, the revelation which God has given of himself, or what we call the Holy Scriptures. This is called the sword of the Spirit, because it comes from the Holy Spirit, and receives its fulfillment in the soul through the operation of the Holy Spirit. An ability to quote this on proper occasions, and especially in times of temptation and trial, has a wonderful tendency to cut in pieces the snares of the adversary. In God’s word a genuine Christian may have unlimited confidence, and to every purpose to which it is applicable it may be brought with the greatest effect. The shield, faith, and the sword — the word of God, or faith in God’s unchangeable word, are the principal armor of the soul. He in whom the word of God dwells richly, and who has that faith by which he knows that he has redemption, even the forgiveness of sins, need not fear the power of any adversary. He stands fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made him free. Some suppose that tou pneumatov, of the Spirit, should be understood of our own spirit or soul; the word of God being the proper sword of the soul, or that offensive weapon the only one which the soul uses. But though it is true that every Christian soul has this for its sword, yet the first meaning is the most likely.
Verse 18. Praying always— The apostle does not put praying among the armor; had he done so he would have referred it, as he has done all the rest, to some of the Grecian armor; but as he does not do this, therefore we conclude that his account of the armor is ended, and that now, having equipped his spiritual soldier, he shows him the necessity of praying, that he may successfully resist those principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and the spiritual wickednesses in heavenly places, with whom he has to contend. The panoply, or whole armor of God, consists in, 1. the girdle; 2. the breast-plate; 3. the greaves; 4. the shield; 5. the helmet; and 6. the sword. He who had these was completely armed. And as it was the custom of the Grecian armies, before they engaged, to offer prayers to the gods for their success, the apostle shows that these spiritual warriors must depend on the Captain of their salvation, and pray with all prayer, i.e. incessantly, being always in the spirit of prayer, so that they should be ever ready for public, private, mental, or ejaculatory prayer, always depending on HIM who can alone save, and who alone can destroy.
When the apostle exhorts Christians to pray with all prayer, we may at once see that he neither means spiritual nor formal prayer, in exclusion of the other. Praying, proseucomenoi, refers to the state of the spirit as well as to the act.
With all prayer— Refers to the different kinds of prayer that is performed in public, in the family, in the closet, in business, on the way, in the heart without a voice, and with the voice from the heart. All those are necessary to the genuine Christian; and he whose heart is right with God will be frequent in the whole. “Some there are,” says a very pious and learned writer, who use only mental prayer or ejaculations, and think they are in a state of grace, and use a way of worship far superior to any other; but such only fancy themselves to be above what is really above them; it requiring far more grace to be enabled to pour out a fervent and continued prayer, than to offer up mental aspirations.” Rev. J. Wesley.
And supplication— There is a difference between proseuch, prayer, and dehsiv, supplication. Some think the former means prayer for the attainment of good; the latter, prayer for averting evil. Supplication however seems to mean prayer continued in, strong and incessant pleadings, till the evil is averted, or the good communicated. There are two things that must be attended to in prayer. 1. That it be en panti kairw, in every time, season, or opportunity; 2. That it should be en pneumati, in or through the Spirit — that the heart should be engaged in it, and that its infirmities should be helped by the Holy Ghost, Watching thereunto— Being always on your guard lest your enemies should surprise you. Watch, not only against evil, but also for opportunities to do good, and for opportunities to receive good. Without watchfulness, prayer and all the spiritual armor will be ineffectual.
With all perseverance— Being always intent on your object, and never losing sight of your danger, or of your interest. The word implies stretching out the neck, and looking about, in order to discern an enemy at a distance.
For all saints— For all Christians; for this was the character by which they were generally distinguished.
Verse 19. And for me, that utterance may be given unto me— /ina moi doqeih logov. Kypke has proved by many examples that logov didonai signifies permission and power to defend one’s self in a court of justice; and this sense of the phrase is perfectly applicable to the case of St. Paul, who was an ambassador in bonds, (Ephesians 6:20,) and expected to be called to a public hearing, in which he was not only to defend himself, but to prove the truth and excellency of the Christian religion. And we learn, from Philippians 1:12-14, that he had his desire in this respect; for the things which happened to him fell out to the furtherance of the Gospel, so that his bonds in Christ were manifest in all the palace, and in all other places. Thus God had enabled him to make a most noble defense, by which the Gospel acquired great credit.
The mystery of the Gospel— The whole doctrine of Christ, not fully revealed previously to that time.
Verse 20. An ambassador in bonds— An ambassador being the representative of his king, his person was in all civilized countries held sacred. Contrary to the rights of nations, this ambassador of the King of heaven was put in chains! He had however the opportunity of defending himself, and of vindicating the honor of his Master. See above.
As I ought to speak.— As becomes the dignity and the importance of the subject.
Verse 21. That ye also— As well as other Churches to whom I have communicated the dealings both of God and man to me.
May know my affairs— May be acquainted with my situation and circumstances.
And how I do— How I employ my time, and what fruit there is of my apostolical labors.
Tychicus, a beloved brother— We learn, from Acts 20:4, that Tychicus was of Asia, and that he was a useful companion of St. Paul. See the note on the above place.
This same person, and with the same character and commendation, is mentioned in the Epistle to the Colossians, Colossians 4:7. He is mentioned also in Titus 3:12, and in 2 Timothy 4:12; from all these places it is evident that he was a person in whom the apostle had the highest confidence, and that he was a very eminent minister of Christ.
Verse 22. Whom I have sent-for the same purpose— Namely, that the Ephesians might know his affairs, and those of the Church at Rome: messengers of this kind frequently passed between the Churches in those ancient times.
Comfort your hearts.— By showing you how powerfully he was upheld in all his tribulations, and how God turned his bonds to the furtherance of the Gospel. This must have been great consolation to all the followers of God; and particularly to those in Ephesus or Laodicea, or to whomsoever the epistle was directed. The question, To whom was it sent? is divided between the Ephesians and the Laodiceans. Dr. Lardner has argued strongly in favor of the former; Dr. Paley not less so in favor of the latter.
Verse 23. Peace be to the brethren— If the epistle were really sent to the Ephesians, a people with whom the apostle was so intimately acquainted, it is strange that he mentions no person by name. This objection, on which Dr. Paley lays great stress, (see the preface to this epistle,) has not been successfully answered.
Peace— All prosperity, and continual union with God and among yourselves; and love to God and man, the principle of all obedience and union; with faith, continually increasing, and growing stronger and stronger, from God the Father, as the fountain of all our mercies, and the Lord Jesus Christ, through whose sacrifice and mediation they all come.
Verse 24. Grace be with all them— May the Divine favor, and all the benedictions flowing from it, be with all them who love our Lord Jesus Christ, who has so loved us as to give his life to redeem ours, and to save us unto life eternal.
In sincerity.— en afqarsia? In incorruptibility. Those who show the genuineness of their love, by walking before him in holiness of life. Many profess to love our Lord Jesus who are corrupt in all their ways; on these the grace or favor of God cannot rest; they profess to know him, but in works deny him. Such can neither expect favor here, nor hereafter.
Amen.— This is wanting in ABFG, and some others. It is, however, more likely to be a genuine subscription here than most others of its kind. The apostle might have sealed his most earnest wish by this word, which means not so much, so be it! or may it be so! but rather implies the faithfulness of him who had given the promises, and whose prerogative it was to give effect to the prayers which his own Spirit had inspired.
The principal subscriptions to this epistle are the following: To the Ephesians. The Epistle to the Ephesians is finished. To the Ephesians, written from Rome. To the Ephesians, written from Rome by Tychicus. (This is the subscription which we have followed; and it is that of the larger number of modern MSS. and editions.) The Epistle to the Ephesians, written from Rome, and sent by Tychicus — SYRIAC. To the Ephesians. — AETHIOPIC. VULGATE, no subscription. The end of this epistle, which was written from Rome by Tychicus. Praise be to God for ever. Amen. — ARABIC. Written at Rome, and sent by Tychicus. — COPTIC. The SAHIDIC is defective. The Epistle to the Ephesians is ended, which was written at Rome by Tychicus. — Philoxenian SYRIAC.
We have had already occasion to observe that the subscriptions to the sacred books were not written by the authors themselves, but were added in a much later age, and generally by unskilful hands. They are consequently not much to be depended on, and never should be quoted as a part of the Divine oracles.
The Rev. Dr. Middleton, late bishop of Calcutta, has presented the subject in all its force and excellence, fortified by innumerable proofs, and a great variety of critical disquisition. The principal design of these writers was to exhibit a new and substantial mode of proving the Divinity of our Lord and Savior. Their works are before the public, and within the reach of all who are capable of judging of this mode of proof.
The piece which I now subjoin is the result of the researches of one of my literary friends, H. S. Boyd, Esq., author of Translations from Chrysostom, etc., who has read the Greek writers, both sacred and profane, with peculiar attention; and has collected a vast number of additional examples, both from prose and poetic writers, for the confirmation and illustration of the rule in question, and in support of the great doctrine of the Godhead of Christ.
The critical reader, who has entered into this subject, will be glad to see such a number of pointed examples brought within his reach, which at once serve the purpose both of philology and divinity. The learned author has transmitted them to me for the purpose of insertion in this place; but want of room has obliged me to omit several of his quotations. (1)
(1) Since Dr. Clarke wrote this paragraph, the Essay on the Greek Article has undergone a careful revision by the author, and several additions have been made to it, which will, it is hoped, be valuable to the critical reader. It is now introduced in a separate form from the Commentary. — THE PUBLISHERS
I would not wish the reader to suppose that these are the only proofs of the grand doctrine of the Godhead of Christ; they are not: the Holy Scripture, in its plain, obvious meaning, independently of such criticism, affords the most luminous and convincing proofs of the doctrine in question; but this is no sufficient reason that we should reject any additional light which may come to us in the way of Divine Providence.
Finished the correction for a new edition, Dec. 15th, 1831.