7. There are two Parts: I. Exposition of the mysteries of the Christian faith and salvation (Ephesians 1-3). II. The duties of the Christian life, by which one walks worthily of the calling of Christ (Ephesians 4-6). Interpreters of the Epistle, Ancient, Reformed, Lutheran, Roman Catholic; and also a Synoptic Table.
Besides the inscription and conclusion the tractate itself comprehends two parts, διδασκαλίαν καὶ παραίνεσιν, doctrine and exhortation. For, first, he expounds the mysteries of the Christian faith and salvation, Chapters 1-3. Second, he inculcates the duties or offices of a life worthy of Christ, Chapters 4-6.
I. Exposition of the mysteries of the Christian faith and salvation, Chapters 1-3. In which Saint Paul:
1. With the Epistle inscribed to the Ephesians, and with a prayer expressed (verses 1, 2), glorifies God on account of His blessing in spiritual things (verse 3), on account of the grace of election in Christ (verse 4), predestination unto adoption (verses 5, 6), redemption and the remission of sins (verse 7), His abundance of wisdom and prudence (verses 8, 9), the summing up of all things in Christ (verse 10), the common implantation of Jews and Gentiles into Christ as if by lot, and the sealing of the Spirit (verses 11-15): chapter 1:1-15.
2. Supplicates for the Ephesians the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that, with eyes illuminated, they might know what is the hope of their calling, and the riches of the inheritance in the saints, and the exceeding greatness of His power unto believers (verses 16-19): chapter 1:16-19. Each of which he illustrates, by exhibiting:
a. His power toward believers.
α. That it is like unto that power, which He wrought in Christ, by raising Him from the dead, exalting Him, putting Him over the Church (verses 20-23): chapter 1:20-23.
β. That the same power raised the Ephesians, who were dead in sins, and seated them in heavenly places, together with Christ (verses 1-6), so that He might show the riches of His grace, by which alone salvation came to them (verses 7-10): chapter 2:1-10.
b. God’s inheritance in the saints, bestowed upon the Gentiles. In which he teaches:
α. That the Gentiles, formerly in the flesh, were without Christ, and without God in this world (verses 11, 12), but are now brought near in the blood of Christ (verse 13), since He, with peace made, removed the hostility, and by the cross reconciled both in one body unto God (verses 14-16), and, with peace proclaimed (verses 17, 18), made them fellow-citizens of the saints, members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets (verses 19-22): chapter 2:11-22.
β. That a singular dispensation of Divine grace was made toward the Gentiles in this, that God, according to the revelation to him, would make known the mystery of Gentiles as co-heirs (verses 1-6), and that he himself was made a minister of that mystery, that he might preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to the Gentiles, and make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, now at last made known to powers and principalities (verses 7-12); when he implores them not to grow faint on account of his afflictions for them (verse 13): chapter 3:1-13.
c. The hope of their calling. Where, with bowed knees, he calls upon God to give to them strength in the inner man, faith in Christ, a foundation in love, and the knowledge of the love of Christ (verses 14-19), and also glorifies God (verses 20, 21): chapter 3:14-21.
II. The duties of the Christian life, whereby one walks worthy of the calling of Christ, Chapters 4-6. In which:
1. He commends to the Ephesians the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace (verses 1-3), where, displaying the bonds of that unity (verses 4-6), he sets forth the diverse measures of the gifts flowing from the ascension of Christ into Heaven (verses 7-11), and indicates the end of the ministry instituted by Christ ascending into Heaven, namely, the edification of the body of Christ, until all arrive at the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man (verses 12-16); he dissuades them from their former walk in the vanity of their minds (verses 17-21), and urges the putting off of the old man, and the renewing of the spirit after the image of God (verses 22-24); he forbids lies, wrath, theft, rotten speech, bitterness, etc. (verses 25-32): chapter 4.
2. He commands the imitation of God and walking in love; he prohibits indecency in words and deeds, avarice, vain speaches, since they are no longer darkness but light (verses 1-10), communion with the unfruitful works of darkness (verses 11-14); he commends circumspect walking and prudence (verses 15-17), dissuades from intemperance, and urges holy cheerfulness (verses 18-20); and, finally, he commands reverence toward superiors (verse 21), wives toward husbands (verses 22-24), and painstakingly enjoins the love of the husband for his wife, after the example of Christ loving the Church (verses 25-33): chapter 5.
3. He prescribes to children obedience toward their parents (verses 1-3), to parents gentleness toward their children (verse 4), to servants their duties toward their masters (verses 5-8), to masters their duties toward their servants (verse 9), to all the fight for the faith, to be managed bravely and prudently, with the vast host of enemies exhibited (verses 10-13), and the necessary equipment against them (verses 14-20); he commends Tychicus, who would faithfully relate all things concerning him (verses 21, 22); and he closes with prayer (verses 23, 24): chapter 6.