Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Ephesians 4:15 - 4:23

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Ephesians 4:15 - 4:23

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

Paul's exhortation and supplication for the Church as the body of Christ:

v. 15. Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and love unto all the saints,

v. 16. cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers,

v. 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,

v. 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,

v. 19. and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power,

v. 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,

v. 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;

v. 22. and hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the Head over all things to the Church,

v. 23. which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.

A long and remarkable sentence, presenting the loftiest conception, both of Christ's own supremacy and of the grandeur of that Church of His, of which the Ephesians have been made members. The distinction between Jews and Gentiles is no longer mentioned; Paul addresses his readers as a body: For this reason I, too, having heard of the faith among you in the Lord Jesus and of the love toward all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers. For this cause, by reason of all the wonderful blessings which he had enumerated in the preceding section, because all these benefits have come upon us Christians in such rich measure, the apostle is constrained to give thanks. For he knew that his readers were believers, having had abundant evidence to satisfy himself upon that point when he was present with them, and having received additional information to the same effect since. They were in a state of faith, of which fact they also gave proof by their love toward all the saints. That was the first and immediate manifestation of their faith: they were united with all the believers, both Jews and Gentiles, by the bond of true brotherly love. This encouraging circumstance caused Paul to continue his practice of making continual grateful mention of them in his prayers. On their behalf he sent up ceaseless prayers of thanksgiving to the throne of grace; he never failed to remember them in his prayers. The reports which were reaching Paul concerning the gratifying prosperity of the Ephesian congregation in spiritual matters were such a source of cheer to him that he was constrained to continue his intercession for them.

The content of Paul's intercessory prayer was: That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full understanding of Him. With all the progress which Christians make in this world they do not reach the state of perfection which is held out before them as the desirable goal. It is God that must continue the work of sanctification and bring it to the point agreeable to His will. This God is the God of Jesus Christ, the singular state of Godhood and Fatherhood being combined in His essence. But Jesus Christ is our Lord, and so the God of Jesus Christ, through Christ, is also our Father, of whom we may confidently expect everything that pertains to our salvation and sanctification. He is the Father of glory, for glory is His essential attribute, Act_7:2; 1Co_2:8. Perfection, magnificence, divine majesty and excellence is found in Him. The God thus characterized can give to the believers of all times the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. The Holy Ghost, who comes into the hearts of men when they come to faith, teaches them to understand the heavenly, divine things, He reveals to them the mysteries which would otherwise be hidden from them, the chief part of His work in this respect consisting in this, that the Christians obtain an ever clearer and sharper understanding of God. They advance from truth to truth, from knowledge to knowledge.

The apostle continues in his description of his prayer: (That God may give you) the eyes of your heart as enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what is the wealth of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. The heart, in Biblical language, is the center, not only of feeling, but also of thinking, willing, and understanding. Through His Holy Spirit God must enlighten the understanding of the Christians; for then only will they know what the hope of God's calling is. Not only faith and love are wrought in the heart by God in conversion, but also hope. This hope, planted into the heart of the Christian by the call of the Lord, grows and becomes more fervent with his increase in spiritual life. The believers always have before the eyes of their mind the wonderful blessing which has been promised to them, the riches of the glory of God's inheritance among the saints. The apostle piles up the nouns in order to bring home to the Christians, in some measure at least, the glory which is awaiting them by the promise of God. The perfected blessedness which shall be ours in heaven is a rich and magnificent inheritance; it is heavenly joy, bliss, and salvation, the reflection of the divine majesty and glory. We Christians are all too apt, while sojourning in this world, to have our attention distracted by the fool's gold of this world, and therefore it is necessary to be trained to think of the inheritance of the saints in light.

Christians must furthermore learn to understand, as Paul here prays: And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us, namely, to those that believe according to the operation of the strength of His might. Stronger expressions could hardly be found in human language to bring out the absolute inability of man to do anything toward his conversion and salvation. Our conversion was made possible by the surpassing greatness of God's power alone, as it was manifested toward us, exerted itself in our hearts and minds. That we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior was made possible only by the operative power which expressed His almighty strength, by which the Lord overcame the resistance of natural man, made us obedient to the Gospel, and now keeps us in the state of faith.

There is only one adequate measure of the exceeding greatness of God's power, namely, the resurrection of Christ, as Paul writes: Which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and set Him at His right hand in the heavens. Christ, in His state of exaltation, is the Mediator of the effective power of God, as it is shown in our conversion. By His resurrection and subsequent ascension to the right hand of power Christ was declared to be the Son of God with power, of the same degree of might and honor with the Father. Our state of faith is a work of power, a miracle of the Triune God. Note: The same Christ who as a true human being died, and through His blood earned the forgiveness of sins for all men, has been raised from the dead by God and placed at His right hand in the heavenly places. We therefore confess that Christ, through His resurrection and ascension, entered into the full possession and use of the divine majesty also according to the human nature which He adopted, a majesty which, however, he possessed during the entire state of humiliation.

This reference to Christ's state of exaltation now causes the apostle to expand this thought, almost in doxological form: Far above all rule, and authority, and power, and lordship, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in the coming one, and has placed all things under His feet. So much the exaltation of the despised Son of Man comprises. By setting Christ at His right hand in the heavens, God has put all things under His feet, has given Him, also according to His human nature, the free and unbounded dominion, not only over all power and authority in the physical world, but also over all the spirits of heaven, over the angels with their superhuman strength and power. No matter what the name and importance of any created being in this world and in the world to come may be, the power and authority of Christ, being that of omnipotence, is greater. Christ is the supreme Lord, to whom all creatures must yield obedience, Psa_8:1-9.

But far more important than this supreme position in the Kingdom of Power is Christ's position in the Kingdom of Grace, of which Paul sags: And (God) gave Him the Head over all to the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all. In His capacity as Head over all things God has given Christ as a present to the Church, which is His body. All the believers, whether of Jews or of Gentiles, are here expressly placed together and designated with the collective name "Church," which is the fellowship of all saints, of the elect children of God on earth. God has now made this arrangement, that Christ is the Head of this Church, and the Church is His body. Not the entire creation, hut the Church, the communion of the believing, chosen children of God, is the body of Christ. See Col_1:18. It is a wonderful and most intimate union which thus obtains between Christ and the believers, for it results in making the Church like a vessel which is filled to the top, brimful with blessings. "The conception is that, the plenitude of the divine powers and qualities in Christ having been imparted by Him to His Church, the latter is now pervaded by His presence, animated with His life, filled with His gifts and energies and graces-a true vessel of His mercy. " All in all He fills,—the Head of the universe is also the Head of the Church.


After opening his letter with an inspiring doxology in praise of the eternal election of grace and its blessings, the apostle states the content of his prayer for the Ephesians to be that they might come to the knowledge of the glory of their future inheritance, of the power of God in working and preserving saving faith in their hearts, and of the position of the exalted Christ as the Head of the Church.