Verse 21. "Unto him" - Thus possessed of power and goodness, be glory in the Church - be unceasing praises ascribed in all the assemblies of the people of God, wherever these glad tidings are preached, and wherever this glorious doctrine shall be credited.
"By Christ Jesus" - Through whom, and for whom, all these miracles of mercy and power are wrought.
"Throughout all ages" - eiv pasav tav geneav? Through all succeeding generations - while the race of human beings continues to exist on the face of the earth.
World without end.] tou aiwnov twn aiwnwn? Throughout eternity - in the coming world as well as in this. The song of praise, begun upon earth, and protracted through all the generations of men, shall be continued in heaven, by all that are redeemed from the earth, where eras, limits, and periods are no more for ever.
Amen.] So be it. So let it be! and so it will be; for all the counsels of God are faithfulness and truth; and not one jot or tittle of his promise has failed, from the foundation of the world to the present day; nor can fail, till mortality is swallowed up of life.
Therefore, to the Father, Son, and holy Ghost, be glory, dominion, power, and thanksgiving, now, henceforth, and for ever.
- Amen and Amen.
1. FOR the great importance of the matter contained in this chapter, and the sublimity of the language and conceptions, there is no portion of the New Testament equal to this. The apostle was now shut up in prison, but the word of the Lord was not bound; and the kingdom of God seems to have been opened to him in a most astonishing manner. There seems to have been exhibited to him a plan of the Divine counsels and conduct relative to the salvation of man, before and from the foundation of the world to the end of time; and while, with the eye of his mind, he contemplates this plan, he describes it in language at once the most elevated that can be conceived, and every where dignified and appropriate to the subject; so that he may with safety be compared with the finest of the Grecian writers. In the notes I have already observed how hard it is to give any literal translation of the many compound epithets which the apostle uses. Indeed his own nervous language seems to bend and tremble under the weight of the Divine ideas which it endeavours to express. This is most observable in the prayer and doxology which are contained in ver. 14-21. A passage in Thucydides, lib. vii. cap. lxxxvii, in fine, where he gives an account of the total overthrow of the Athenian general, Nicias, and his whole army, by the Sicilians, has been compared with this of the apostle; it is truly a grand piece, and no reader can be displeased with its introduction here: xunebh te ergon touto Ćellhnikon twn kaqa ton polemon tonde megiston genesqai-kai toiv te krathsasi lamprotaton, kai toiv diafqareisi dustucestaton? kata panta gar pantwv nikhqentev, kai ouden oligon ev ouden kakopaqhsantev, panwleqria dh, to legomenon, kai pezov kai nhev, kai ouden o, ti ouk apwleto? kai oligoi apo pollwn epĆ oikou apenosthsan? "This was the greatest discomfiture which the Greeks sustained during the whole war, and was as brilliant to the conquerors as it was calamitous to the vanquished. In every respect they were totally defeated; and they suffered no small evil in every particular: the destruction was universal, both of army and navy; there was nothing that did not perish; and scarcely any, out of vast multitudes, returned to their own homes.
The learned may compare the two passages; and while due credit is given to the splendid Greek historian, no critic will deny the palm to the inspired writer.
2. With such portions of the word of God before us, how is it that we can he said conscientiously to credit the doctrines of Christianity, and live satisfied with such slender attainments in the divine life? Can any man that pleads for the necessary and degrading continuance of indwelling sin, believe what the apostle has written? Can we, who profess to believe it, be excusable, and live under the influence of any temper or passion that does not belong to the mind of Christ? Will it be said in answer, that "this is only a prayer of the apostle, and contains his wish from the overflowings of his heart for the spiritual prosperity of the Ephesians?" Was the apostle inspired or not when he penned this prayer? If he were not inspired, the prayer makes no part of Divine revelation; if he were inspired, every petition is tantamount to a positive promise; for what God inspires the heart to pray for, that God purposes to bestow. Then it is his will that all these blessings should be enjoyed by his true followers, that Christ should inhabit their hearts, and that they should be filled with all the fullness of God; yea, and that God should do for them more abundantly than they can ask or think. This necessarily implies that they should be saved from all sin, inward and outward, in this life; that the thoughts of their hearts should be cleansed by the inspiration of God's Holy Spirit, that they might perfectly love him, and worthily magnify his holy name.
As sin is the cause of the ruin of mankind, the Gospel system, which is its cure, is called good news, or glad tidings; and it is good news because it proclaims him who saves his people from their sins. It would be dishonourable to the grace of Christ to suppose that sin had made wounds which that could not heal.