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The Epistles of Paul - Ephesians Part 2: The Foundation of the Prophets
Opening our presentation of this epistle to the Ephesians, we saw Paul of Tarsus begin to describe the purpose of the will of Yahweh God in relation to His plan for the ages: that He has had a particular people who were chosen from the “foundation of the society” who were preordained for the position of sons of God. Because of that predestination, in Christ these particular people have redemption and the dismissal of their transgressions. Paul then asserted that with this understanding, the mystery of the will of Yahweh God had been made known, and that through that redemption, those same people have obtained an inheritance for which they were preordained according to the purpose of Yahweh and in accordance with the design of the will of Yahweh. Paul then explained that this is all relevant to those particular people “who before had expectation in the Christ” and accepting the Gospel that those same people, among whom were the Ephesians, “have been sealed with the Holy Spirit of the promise, which is a deposit of our inheritance, in regard to redemption of the possession, in praise of His honor.”
Examining all of the oracles of Yahweh in the Old Testament which relate to the things which Paul had said in the opening verses of this epistle, we find the following:
By the Word of Yahweh, only the ancient children of Israel were ever admitted to be the children of Yahweh (Deuteronomy 14:1), and by the Word of Yahweh, only the ancient children of Israel were ever considered to be the chosen of Yahweh (Psalms 105:6, 135:4; Isaiah 41:8, 44:1, 2). Only the children of Israel were even recognized, or known, by Yahweh out of all of the other families of the earth (Amos 3:1-2).
The plan described by Yahweh in the various books of the prophets is to scatter the children of Israel, during which time the promises to Abraham would be fulfilled, that they were to become many nations, and then to bring them all back to Himself, gathering them in Christ (Ezekiel 34:5-13, Micah 4).
Both the Old and the New Covenants were made explicitly with the House of Israel, including the House of Judah (Jeremiah 31). With this we must note the profession of Christ Himself, that He came only for the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15).
Only the children of Israel were ever the possession of Yahweh, and therefore where Paul speaks of “redemption of the possession”, we again see that redemption in Christ only applies to those same people (Exodus 19:5; Isaiah 43:1; 52:1-3).
Only the same children of Israel had “before had expectation in the Christ”, meaning that only the Israelites ever had the promise of a Messiah, or a Redeemer, and therefore all of the promises in Christ are only relevant to those same Israelites (Isaiah 50:1-2, Daniel 9:24-27, Hosea 13:9-14).
Ancient history offers sufficient proof that the Phoenicians, the Trojans, the Danaan Greeks, the Dorian Greeks, and those who descended from them such as the original Macedonians were all Israelites who had at diverse times departed from the main body of Israel even before the time of Moses, and continued to emigrate from Israel over the centuries subsequent to the Exodus. [The later deportations of Israel and Judah produced the formation of the Germanic and related tribes.] Whether mainstream denominational Christians understand the ancient history or not is immaterial. The only honest manner by which to interpret the words of Paul of Tarsus here is with the understanding that he is indeed addressing people who were descended from ancient Israelites, since it is only to such people that any of these things which we have mentioned could possibly apply.
The veracity of these assertions shall become even more evident as we proceed through this epistle, and we see that Paul used language which continues to demonstrate this same understanding. Ultimately, Paul concludes chapter 2 of the epistle in part by stating that the household of Yahweh is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets”. The apostles accounted Israel by tribes, according to the flesh, in the same manner that the prophets did, and by seed, meaning literal offspring, in the same manner that the prophets did. If the denominational churches of today do not account Israel in that same manner, then they are deceiving themselves. But their error does not change the Word of God, and they will have to account for their having scattered the sheep because they have not been gathering with Christ.
With this, we shall proceed with Ephesians chapter 1, with verse 15:
15 Therefore even I, having heard of your own faith in Prince Yahshua and that which is for all the saints,
Rendering this verse, the Christogenea New Testament had originally followed the Novum Testamentum Graece (NA27), having the last clause of this verse to read “and the charity which is for all the saints” after the Codex Bezae (D) and the Majority Text. However we have now chosen instead to follow the older manuscripts, the 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A) and Vaticanus (B).
16 [Therefore even I] do not cease giving thanks concerning you, making mention [the MT interpolates “of you”; the text follows P46, א, A, B, and D] in my prayers, 17 in order that the God of our Prince, Yahshua Christ, the Father of honor, would give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in His knowledge, 18 the eyes of your mind being illuminated for you to know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the honor of His inheritance in the saints,
The phrase “eyes of your mind” in verse 18 is literally “eyes of your heart”. The Greek word καρδία (2588) is “the heart” but also “...the soul or mind, as it is the fountain and seat of the thoughts, passions, desires...” (Joseph Thayer). The 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codex Vaticanus (B) have only “the eyes of the mind”; the text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Bezae (D) and the Majority Text.
The beginning of wisdom, as it says in the Proverbs, is the knowledge of God. As it says in Proverbs chapter 9, from the Septuagint: “10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the counsel of saints is understanding: for to know the law is the character of a sound mind.” Yet in relation to the promise and prophecy of a New Covenant it says in Jeremiah chapter 31: “34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Note that it does not say that they shall know Jesus in relation to this promise, but that they shall know Yahweh. It is “the God of our Prince … the Father of honor” who is the subject of this verse, and not Jesus. Paul is not describing some new, different calling by Jesus Christ. By referring to “His calling” in relation to Yahweh God the Father, Paul explains that this is that same calling of that same Old Testament God, and therefore it is the same calling which we see in the prophets where it speaks exclusively of the ancient children of Israel. As Christ said in John chapter 17, “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.”
Speaking of “His inheritance”, with that pronoun Paul is again referring to God the Father. Only the tribes of Jacob Israel are the inheritance of Yahweh God, and where Paul says “His” he refers to that same Old Testament God where he refers to “His inheritance in the saints”. In this same manner Yahweh speaks in Deuteronomy chapter 32: “9 For the LORD'S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.” This is not some different New Testament inheritance, but the same inheritance referenced throughout the Old Testament.
In Jeremiah chapter 10 we see the gods of all of the other nations contrasted to the children of Israel and it says “14 Every man is brutish in his knowledge: every founder [referring to the fabricators of idols] is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them. 15 They are vanity, and the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish. 16 The portion of Jacob is not like them: for he is the former of all things; and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: The LORD of hosts is his name.” This same admonishment is repeated nearly verbatim in Jeremiah chapter 51. Note that it does not say that all of the other nations will be converted to Christ. Rather, it says that the gods of all of the other nations will perish in the time of their visitation, a reference to the righteous judgment of Yahweh God, who is the portion of Jacob. In the modern age, forcing or enticing the other nations and races to accept a Jesus which Jesus Himself did not preach will not change the predestined fate of those other nations and races. The children of Israel alone are Yahweh's portion and Yahweh's inheritance. An inheritance represents what is left of an estate.
While Israel is the inheritance of Yahweh, Yahweh is also the inheritance of Israel, as it reads in Psalm 47: “2 For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth. 3 He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet. 4 He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah.” As we has explained presenting the earlier portions of this chapter, this is an interlocking relationship between Yahweh and Israel which cannot be permeated or violated by anyone else, Yahweh Himself having defined the boundaries of the relationship. Paul illustrates this same thing in an allegory in Ephesians chapter 2.
19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power for us [D has “you”] who are believing, according to the operation of the might of His strength,
As Yahshua Christ had said to those of the Judaeans who rejected Him, as it is recorded in John chapter 10: “26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”. The true gospel of Christ can only be heard by the people for whom it was predestined. Those denominational Christians who lay claim to a Gospel for all of the alien peoples of the world are not preaching the true Gospel of Christ. The reference to “those who are believing” refers to those of the world of Paul's time, and the true Gospel of Christ was to separate the Wheat from the Tares in the apostolic age.
20 which He produced in the Christ, having raised Him from the dead, and sat Him at His right hand in the heavenly places [B has “in the heavens”]
The vision is an allegory first depicted by David in Psalm 110: “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” It was repeated by Christ Himself in contention with those who opposed Him, where He said in Luke chapter 22: “69 Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.”
One important purpose of Christ concerns the children of Israel, as it says of them in Luke chapter 1 “71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; 73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham”. Therefore where it says in Psalm 110 that “1 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool”, it says in the verses which follow: “2 The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. 3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. 4 The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. 5 The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. 6 He shall judge among the heathen [or nations], he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries. 7 He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.” This is the deliverance which the children of Israel await today, it is the same deliverance described in the Old Testament which the children of Israel continue to await today, and it is the deliverance which is described in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 and in Revelation chapters 19 and 20 and elsewhere.
21 over every realm and authority and power and dominion, and every name being named, not only in this age, but also in the future.
The word for age was translated as world in the King James Version. However the Greek word αἰών (Strong's # 165), according to Liddell & Scott is “a period of existence... an age... a long space of time... [or] a definite space of time...” and it does not refer to an object, a place, the planet, or a state of existence. The phrase translated here as “the future” is a Substantive (a group of words used as a noun which are not nouns by themselves) formed from a definite article and a Participle form of the verb μέλλω (Strong's # 3195) which is primarily to be about to do or to happen. The phrase may also have been translated “what is coming”.
The apostle Peter had spoke in a similar manner of the resurrected Christ, in 1 Peter chapter 3: “22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.”
We have seen Paul use the same language to describe Christ which we have seen in the Psalms. Here he uses language which puts Christ on a footing with Yahweh God Himself, which should be no surprise to Christians as Isaiah had prophesied of the Christ “6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.”
Perhaps three or even four years before this epistle was written, Paul had written to Timothy charging him “14 that you keep this commandment spotless, irreproachable until the manifestation of our Prince Yahshua Christ. 15 Which He will show in His own time: the Blessed and Only Ruler, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (1 Timothy chapter 6). In this same manner we see Christ referred to in Revelation chapters 17 and 19 as “Lord of lords, and King of kings”. But Paul had written this epistle about 30 years before the apostle John had written the Revelation. Since neither Yahweh nor the Messiah are described with this same language in the surviving books of the Old Testament or the Apocrypha, this shows that Paul had an understanding of Scripture which transcended the literal word, and that he understood the greater meaning underlying both the need for and the nature of the Messiah. The children of Israel had rejected Yahweh as their king, and wanted a fleshly king (1 Samuel 8). For this Yahweh God eventually put them off in punishment, as He says in Hosea chapter 13, “11 I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath.” However ultimately Yahweh shows His mercy upon Israel by incarnating Himself as the man, Yahshua Christ, who shall ultimately shall rule over all Israel forever.
22 And all things He placed under His feet, and has given Him a crown [literally “head”, κεφαλή] over all things in the assembly, 23 which is His body, the fulfillment of that which all things in all are being fulfilled.
Here Paul limits the legitimate scope of the phrase “all things” to be a reference only to all things “within the assembly”, which is “His body”, terms which refer to the children of Israel collectively. In the Gospel, in Mark chapter 9, the apostles ask Christ “Why say the scribes that Elias must first come?” And Christ responds by saying that “Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things”. Yet in the books of the prophets the only mention of Elijah is in Malachi chapter 4: “5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” So the so-called “restoration of all things” is only a restoration of all things which were between Yahweh God and the children of Israel. Paul will describe this restoration at length in Ephesians chapter 4.
This same restoration is prophesied again in Isaiah chapter 49: “5 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength. 6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Nations, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. 7 Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.”
With this we shall commence with Ephesians chapter 2:
1 And you, being dead in transgressions and in your errors [B has “desires”] 2 in which you had at one time walked, in accordance with the age of this Society, in accordance with the ruler of the office of the air, the spirit that is now operating within the sons of disobedience,
As the apostle John also attested, “We know that we are from of Yahweh and the whole Society lies in the power of the Evil One.” (1 John 5:19)
The Greek word ἐξουσία (Strong's # 1849) is office here, but it may have more literally been rendered as power or authority. Liddell & Scott define the word in this regard as “an office, magistracy” citing Plato for this use of the word, in their Greek-English lexicon at ἐξουσία, II. 2. But the entire phrase may just as well be read, as the King James Version has it, “the prince of the power of the air”.
I know of no ancient context by which this reference to the “power of the air” can be easily comprehended, however perhaps with Paul's own words and the help of a passage in the Wisdom of Solomon, it may indeed be understood. First, in the ancient Greek cosmology, there were assigned three layers of atmosphere. The air, or the lower atmosphere, was that in which men exist and which men breathe, and also the abode of the birds in the sky. The ether was the bright upper atmosphere, and the heaven was the abode of the stars and planets.
In the Wisdom of Solomon, at verse 17:10 (17:9 in the Greek manuscripts) there is a rather enigmatic saying, where it is speaking of the dread that would apparently overcome certain sorcerers who were described as being “fettered with the bonds of a long night”. There it says in Brenton's translation that “They died for fear, denying that they saw the air, which could of no side be avoided.” Rather than “denying that they saw the air” the Greek more appropriately says “refusing to look at the air”, but that is not any less enigmatic. However examining the context of the chapter, where it is talking about these wicked men as they are “fettered with the bonds of a long night”, perhaps in that context we can understand the reference to the air to refer to what we would call in our own idiom “the light of day”.
In the latter verses of the same chapter it says of the same wicked men “20 For the whole world shined with clear light, and none were hindered in their labour: 21 Over them only was spread an heavy night, an image of that darkness which should afterward receive them: but yet were they unto themselves more grievous than the darkness.” While in that same book, in the Wisdom of Solomon chapters 2, 5 and 7, there are uses of the same term for air which lead us to believe that it did indeed refer to the invisible atmosphere around us, here in chapter 17 we are led to believe that it was also a reference to the light of day, as opposed to the image of darkness described as the “bonds of a long night” and a “heavy night”. As the apostle John said of Christ, “the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not”, light referring to Christ and darkness referring to certain wicked men.
One other place where Paul mentions air is in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, speaking of the anticipated Second Advent of the Christ, and he wrote: “14 For if we believe that Yahshua had died and rose up, in this manner Yahweh also through Yahshua will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we say to you by word of the Prince: that we, the living, those left remaining until the coming of the Prince, no way would come before those who have fallen asleep; 16 because the Prince Himself with a command, by a chief messenger's voice and with a trumpet of Yahweh shall descend from heaven, and those dead among the number of the Anointed shall rise up first. 17 Then we, the living who are remaining, at once with them shall be carried off in clouds for a meeting with the Prince in air, and in that manner always with the Prince we shall be.”
Here in 1 Thessalonians Paul should certainly not be taken too literally. The reference to “clouds” is very much a reference to clouds of people, as Paul also used that term in Hebrews chapter 12 of a “cloud of witnesses”. The reference to air being the gathering place of “we the living”, then it is apparently a reference to the “light of day”, to the physical world in which we exist, to distinguish it from the invisible world of the spirit to which Paul refers elsewhere, in Romans 1:20, Colossians 1:16 and in Hebrews 11:2. In that manner, Paul's reference to “the ruler of the power of the air” as a spirit operating within the sons of disobedience informs us that this wicked entity operates in this immediate world through wicked people. So it is that Yahshua Christ had referred to His adversaries collectively as the “prince of this world”, and in his epistle to the Colossians Paul mentions the “princes of this world”, who had “crucified the Lord of glory”.
The “sons of disobedience” have a particular evil spirit which operates within them, just as the children of Israel have a spirit which comes from Yahweh their God. The spirit operating within the sons of disobedience does not come from God. So we read along these same lines in 1 John chapter 4: “1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
Once again, these are the Wheat and the Tares of the parable of Christ. If the sons of disobedience have a spirit that did not come from Yahweh, then they are bastards, planted by the devil, which is collectively also the fallen angels of Revelation chapter 12, and they shall be torn up as Yahshua Christ had testified that “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up”, as it is recorded in Matthew chapter 15. These have no opportunity of being converted to Christianity, and among them are the Jews who ever since the time of the apostle John have denied that Jesus is the Christ.
As a digression, it is tempting to think that Paul was speaking prophetically of the prince of the power of the air as the ruler of the airwaves, since the Jew has come to control all of the world's electronic media as soon as the ability was discovered by men. It is tempting enough to mention, but the practical application should prevail, and we shall leave it at that.
3 among whom we [A and D have “you”; the text follows P46, א, B, and the MT] also had all at one time conducted ourselves, in the desires of our flesh, acting out the wills of the flesh and of the thoughts, and we were by nature children of wrath, even like the others.
By saying “we”, “ourselves” and “our flesh”, Paul exhibits that he is not merely talking about the former paganism of these Ephesian Christians. Rather, he is talking about the ancient disobedience of the Israelites before the Assyrian and Babylonian deportations and the destruction of the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah as a result of their sins. The analogy applies to the Ephesians, descended from the ancient Israelites, as well as to Paul, who was ostensibly descended from the remnant of Benjamin which returned to Judaea with Zerubbabel.
Therefore the reference to “children of wrath” can only refer to the Old Testament Canaanites. Paul uses a similar phrase of the Edomites of Judaea in Romans chapter 9, who were in part descended from Esau's Canaanite wives. First we shall read from Exodus chapter 23, where Yahweh had warned the Israelites what would happen if they did not do with the Canaanites as He had commanded: “31 And I will set thy bounds from the Red sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee. 32 Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. 33 They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee.” Then in Numbers chapter 33 Yahweh warned them again: “55 But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell. 56 Moreover it shall come to pass, that I shall do unto you, as I thought to do unto them.”
The children of Israel failed to do as they were commanded, and we read concerning a period some decades later, in Judges chapter 2: “1 And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. 2 And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? 3 Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.” The rest of the history of the children of Israel through nearly 800 years and all the way down to the Assyrian and Babylonian deportations was one of the national struggle with sin on account of this failure, until they were metaphorically put out of the sight of Yahweh their God. It is of this period that Paul speaks where he says “we were by nature children of wrath, even like the others.”
However the major theme of most of the surviving books of the prophets includes accounts of the sin of Israel and Judah, then of Yahweh's putting away of the houses of Israel and Judah for that sin, and then ultimately of the promised reconciliation of those same houses of Israel and Judah in Christ. Therefore Paul says:
4 But Yahweh, being rich in compassion, because of that great love of His with which He has loved us, 5 and we being dead in transgressions, are made alive with the Anointed (in favor are you being preserved),
The 3rd century papyrus P46 has the last clause of verse 4 to read “because of that great love He has shown mercy upon us”. The text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B), Ephraemi Syri (C) and the Majority Text. The Codex Bezae (D) wants the word for “of His”.
The 3rd century papyrus P46 has the first clause of verse 5 to read “and we being dead in body”; the Codex Vaticanus (B) has “and we being dead in transgressions and in desires”; the Codex Bezae (D) has “and we being dead in errors”; The text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A) and the Majority Text.
The Codex Bezae (D) has the parenthetical remark at the end of verse 5 to read “you whom in favor are being preserved”.
Once again, those being “dead in transgressions” could only be the children of Israel, as for example it was said of the Israelites of the Northern Kingdom in Hosea chapter 13: “1 When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died. 2 And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves. 3 Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney. 4 Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me.” Only Israel had the law (Psalm 147:19-20) and therefore only Israel could be “dead in transgressions” because sin is transgression of the law (1 John 3:4) and where there is no law, sin is not imputed (Romans 5:13). So only the children of Israel can ever be imagined to be in transgression, and when the children of Israel sin, they are dead in transgression, but they have a propitiation in Christ (1 John 2).
6 and are raised together and are seated together in the heavenly places with Christ Yahshua, 7 in order that He would exhibit in the coming ages the surpassing riches of His favor in kindness to us among the number of Christ Yahshua.
In Ephesians 1:21 in the King James Version the Greek word αἰών was translated as world. However here it is correctly translated in the plural as ages. But in all fairness, in 1611 the word world apparently did not have the same connotation as it does today. Checking a resource such as the American Heritage College Dictionary, which attempts to trace the meanings of many words back to their earliest roots, the word world evidently evolved from two ancient words meaning the age of man, wer for man and old for age.
Writing his treatise On the Jews and Their Lies not even 70 years before the King James Version was translated, Martin Luther had said in chapter 13 of his work, speaking of Christ, that “it is a great, extraordinary, and wonderful thing that the Gentiles in all the world accepted, without sword or coercion, with no temporal benefits accruing to them”. Yet Luther was fully aware that Christianity was for the most part restricted to Europe, and Luther was fully aware of all of the alien peoples and strange religions beyond Europe, and especially of the ever-threatening Turks, who were Muslims. So his view of the word world was not cognate to the concept of the globe or the planet and everyone on it, or his view of the “gentiles” certainly did not include the alien peoples. Many other comments which he made display those same ideas, while at times he also seemed to have some confusion, having been educated as a Catholic universalist.
8 For in favor you are being preserved through faith and this, Yahweh’s gift, is not of yourselves, 9 not from works, lest anyone would boast, 10 for His work we are, having been established among the number of Christ Yahshua for good works, which Yahweh before prepared in order that we would walk in them.
The phrase in verse 9 where it says “not from works” may have been written “not from rituals”. We have explained many times, and especially in our recent presentation of Galatians chapter 2, that using the word works in relation to the law Paul was usually referring to the rituals of the law. This has caused many readers of Paul's letters much confusion, because in his epistle to the Galatians and elsewhere Paul had, rather correctly, maintained that the works of the law, meaning the ceremonial ordinances and rituals, were done away with in Christ, yet throughout history few of his readers have understood what Paul really meant by that phrase “works of the law”. However the term “works of the law” in relation to the rituals and ceremonial ordinances of the Old Testament also appears in the Greek translations of the Septuagint and in the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are all contemporary to the time of Paul. It should go without saying, that Paul very persistently upheld the Christian need to keep the commandments of the law.
Many commentators point out that James' statement at the end of chapter 2 in his single epistle, where he says that “faith without works is dead”, was made in answer to the teachings of Paul in epistles such as Galatians. We would only concede that it may have been made in answer to some misconceptions about the teachings of Paul. According to the histories of Flavius Josephus, James was murdered in Judaea right around the same time that Paul was sitting in Rome writing this epistle to the Ephesians, since James, whom Josephus called “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ”, was slain by the Sadducees as Lucceius Albinus was about to assume the office of Procurator of Judaea in 62 AD. The epistle to the Galatians was evidently written while Paul was in Antioch, and therefore James may have seen it, but James could not have had an opportunity to see this epistle, and may not have necessarily seen any of Paul's other epistles except possibly for Hebrews, written in Caesareia perhaps about three years before James' death.
If we had written “not from rituals here”, which is certainly Paul's intention, we would have lost the wordplay with the mention of “good works” in the verse which follows, which was also certainly Paul's intention. Both times, in 2:9 and 2:10, where the word for works appears, the Greek word is ἔργον (Strong's # 2041). [But where Paul says “His work we are” in 2:10 the Greek word is a synonym, ποίημα (Strong's # 4161).]
In any event, Paul is informing the Ephesians that their salvation is not from works, from anything that they themselves may do, and where he teaches on this same topic in Galatians he is referring explicitly to the rituals and ceremonial ordinances required by the Old Testament Law. But here he also says that the very purpose for which the Body of Christ is established by God is for “good works”, and for that reason Christians are expected to walk in them. So Paul would certainly have agreed with James, that “faith without works is dead”.
11 On which account you must remember that at one time you, the Nations in the flesh, who are the so-called ‘uncircumcised’ by the so-called ‘circumcised’ made by hand [or “artificially”] in the flesh , 12 because you had at that time been apart from Christ, having been alienated from the civic life of Israel, and strangers of the covenants of the promise, not having hope and in the Society without Yahweh;
The phrase “without Yahweh” is from the single Greek word ἄθεος (Strong's # 112), which only appears here in the New Testament, and literally means without God.
The King James Version translation of this passage is ridiculous, in that it has Paul calling the Ephesians former Gentiles. If that were so, he would not continually refer to them as Gentiles throughout the rest of this epistle. In none of Paul's epistles do we see the concept of a former Gentile. Rather, the phrase “at one time” refers to the time mentioned in verse 12 where it says “at that time”, and both are a reference to the time during which the children of Israel were alienated from Yahweh their God for their sin, as we also see in verse 12, where the translation in the King James Version is even worse.
Instead, Paul is stating, in part, that “at one time you … because you had at that time been apart from Christ”, and in between the clauses we see a short digression where Paul explains something about who they are, so that we may see how they fit into the purpose of God's will for Israel. The Ephesians were not “gentiles in the flesh”, and they were not formerly Gentiles because Paul was not trying to make them into Jews and because he continued to call them Gentiles, but the Greek word actually means nations.
Rather, these Ephesians were certainly some of the descendants of the ancient tribes of Israel, and therefore they were among the “Nations in the flesh” according to the promises made to Abraham, that his seed would become many nations and inherit the world. Paul described this same thing in much greater length in his earlier epistle to the Romans, in Romans chapter 4 where he had told the Romans that Abraham was their forefather, and among other things he then said: “13 Indeed, not through the law is the promise to Abraham or to his offspring, that he is to be the heir of the Society, but through righteousness of faith. [So the promise remains to the offspring of Abraham, and it was not for anyone else.] 14 For if they from of the law are heirs, the faith has been voided, and the promise annulled. [So circumcision is no longer a sign of the promise.] 15 For the law results in wrath, so where there is no law, neither is there transgression. 16 Therefore from of the faith, that in accordance with favor, then the promise is to be certain to all of the offspring, not to that of the law only, but also to that of the faith of Abraham, who is father of us all; 17 (just as it is written, 'That a father of many nations I have made you,') before Yahweh whom he trusted, who raises the dead to life, and calls things not existing as existing; 18 who contrary to expectation, in expectation believed, for which he would become a father of many nations according to the declaration, 'Thus your offspring will be.'” Paul says that Abraham's seed became many nations, and the universalist denominational churches twist that into the lie that many nations somehow became Abraham's seed. But Yahweh God is not a liar and His word continues, as Paul had also taught.
As it says in Hosea chapter 4 of the children of Israel who were being alienated from Yahweh their God at that time, “4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: 5 Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king [a type for Christ]; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.” So according to the word of God, having lost all of these symbols and institutions of their kingdom, we cannot expect them to have maintained the associated rituals or customs such as circumcision. But the Old Testament histories concerning Israel had already made it clear that they had turned to paganism and had already abandoned many of these things. In the latter days, returning to their God, they must return to Him through Christ. Here Paul, where he is telling the Ephesians that they are the “Nations in the flesh” in much the same way that he had also earlier told the Corinthians that same thing (1 Corinthians 10), is informing them that these things which are written in the prophets are being fulfilled in them. Therefore at the end of this chapter he informs them that the Body of Christ is established on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets.
We shall repeat the passage in question, to discuss other aspects of it:
11 On which account you must remember that at one time you, the Nations in the flesh, who are the so-called ‘uncircumcised’ by the so-called ‘circumcised’ made by hand in the flesh , 12 because you had at that time been apart from Christ, having been alienated from the civic life of Israel, and strangers of the covenants of the promise, not having hope and in the Society without Yahweh;
So where Paul calls the Ephesians the “nations in the flesh” he is informing them that they are the seed of Abraham as he informed the Galatians in many other ways, and also the Romans, and also the Corinthians. Where he makes references to circumcision and uncircumcision, by Paul's time the distinctions had become meaningless in distinguishing the children of Israel. Those of the nations put off from Yahweh had discontinued the practice, but they were still Israelites according to the promise and the flesh. But also by that time, among those of the Judaeans who maintained the practice were many Edomites and other Canaanites who were the enemies of Yahweh God and could never inherit the promises regardless of their keeping the law or the circumcision. We may learn this with all certainty from Romans chapter 9, Ezekiel chapters 34 and 35, and ascertain it in detail from the histories of Flavius Josephus. It is further evident in many other Scriptures.
So Paul insinuates that the circumcision of the flesh is artificial. He is vindicated where true circumcision is described as Yahweh God beckons the children of Israel in Jeremiah chapter 4: “4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.” The admonition is made of all Israel in Deuteronomy chapter 10 where the Word of Yahweh says to them: “16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.” Paul summarized some of the concepts presented here in Colossians chapter 2: “10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ”.
Where we have translated the phrase “having been alienated”, the King James Version has a very dishonest rendering, where it has “being aliens”, and there is a significant difference. The Greek word ἀπαλλοτριόω (Strong's # 526) appears only here and at Ephesians 4:18, and Colossians 1:21 in the New Testament. According to Liddell & Scott it means “to estrange, alienate”. The King James Version treats the word properly in the other passages, but here somehow it renders the verb as a noun.
But as the King James Version translates this passage, one would think that perfect strangers, those who had never been associated with ancient Israel, could now somehow become the “church”. However the entire premise of the modern denominational churches, as well as the historically universalist churches, crumbles when the actual context of Paul's epistle is examined. That is because one can only be estranged or alienated if one had been a part of something in the first place. That is because the fact that Christ came only for the “lost sheep” of the house of Israel, the New Covenant having been promised for one particular race of people, is the very “foundation of the apostles and prophets” upon which here Paul attests that the Body of Christ is built, later in this same chapter!
A greater promise which not only verifies this interpretation, but which both foresees and describes what had happened to the children of Israel in antiquity is found in Deuteronomy chapter 30: “1 And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee, 2 And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; 3 That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee. 4 If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: 5 And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. 6 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.”
For all of these same reasons, as the Israelites were put off in punishment by Yahweh their God, where Hosea also portrays them as being “alienated from the civic life of Israel”, subsequent generations of the then pagan tribes of Israel had become “strangers of the covenants of the promise”, because they lost their identity in their captivity and their subsequent wanderings. But this happened because they were alienated from God, and not because they were aliens in the first place. That is why they were “lost sheep” according to Ezekiel, and “lost sheep” according to Christ Himself. Returning to Yahweh their God in Christ, He circumcises their hearts, as promised in Deuteronomy and as explained by Paul of Tarsus here and elsewhere, as Paul also taught in Romans 2:29 where he said that “… circumcision is of the heart; in Spirit, not in writing; of which approval is not from men, but from Yahweh.”
For all of this, Paul speaks of reconciliation in verse 16, as even the King James Version had to translate the corresponding Greek word. The context proves our translations and their understanding to be correct.
13 but now you among the number of Yahshua Christ, [or simply “in Christ”] who at one time being far away, have become near by the blood of the Christ.
The children of Israel in captivity and their subsequent wanderings were far away from Yahweh their God both physically and spiritually, and during this time, as the Word of Yahweh says in Hosea chapter 5: “6 They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the LORD; but they shall not find him; he hath withdrawn himself from them.” Likewise, speaking of those same circumstances and people, it says in Amos chapter 8: “12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.”
In Micah chapter 4 another portrait of the same punishment of Israel is found in a promise of reconciliation: “6 In that day, saith the LORD, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; 7 And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever. 8 And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.” This is the fate of the Israel which Yahweh had alienated, but which would be reconciled to Him in Christ.
14 For He is our peace, Who has made both one, and having broke down the middle wall of the enclosure: the hostility in His flesh, 15 having annulled the law of commandments in ordinances [P46 wants “in ordinances”], in order that He would establish the two with Himself into one new man, making peace,
In a Messianic prophecy in which Joshua the high priest from the time of the building of the second temple is used as a type for Christ, we read from Zechariah chapter 3: “6 And the angel of the LORD protested unto Joshua, saying, 7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by. 8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.”
Here Paul is evidently using the temple as a paradigm for the Body of Christ, that those who were priests and employed in the service to Yahweh were permitted into the inner courts, but all others were confined to the outer court. Thus Paul seems to make an analogy of the circumcised Israelites of the Judaeans and the uncircumcised Israelites of the Nations, who were separated by a “middle wall”, although they were all Israelites in the body of Christ.
The reference to “the two” could only refer to the uncircumcised and the circumcised of Israel, “those far away” and “those near”, and Paul is stating that they are now one in Christ. Yahshua Christ Himself makes a similar analogy in another way in John chapter 10: “16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” This would also be the fulfillment of the prophecy of the two sticks found in Ezekiel chapter 37.
16 and again reconcile both in one body to Yahweh through the cross, having slain that hostility by it. 17 And having come He announced the good message, peace to you who were far away, and peace [the MT wants “peace” here; he text follows P46, א, A, B, and D] to those near.
The hostility spoken of here is the hostility between Yahweh and Israel, which is first mentioned in verse 14 where Paul said that He had “broke down the middle wall of the enclosure: the hostility in His flesh”.
This is the analogy which Paul is making here: the middle wall of the enclosure “made both one” by breaking down the barriers between those of the remnant who continued in the circumcision and the law, who are “those near”, and those of the captivity who were Israelites, but who were pagans, who were “far away”. The hostility is in the flesh of Christ, which is the alienation of Israel from Yahweh their God for their sins. As Paul had explained in Romans chapter 7, and as it is evident in Daniel chapter 9, Yahweh God came as a man and died in order to fulfill the law, so that He could be reconciled to Israel apart from the law, and so that Israel would not have to be judged by the law.
But only the middle wall of the enclosure has been removed, and the enclosure itself is the Word of Yahweh God which keeps the children of Israel as well as He Himself holy, and apart from the rest of the world! Whether it be the inner court or the outer court, in the Kingdom of Yahweh only Israelites may enter into the temple of God. The New Jerusalem of the closing chapters of the Revelation also depicts this, where the gates to the city contain the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.
18 Because of Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
Access to the Father is through the veil of the temple, which Paul also calls the second veil in Hebrews chapter 9, and is not to be confused with the “middle wall of the enclosure”. Paul explains in his epistle to the Hebrews that the veil still exists, and Christ entered through it for us, of which the veil of the innermost sanctum of the temple was only a type.
19 So therefore you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but fellow-citizens of the saints and of the household [or family] of Yahweh,
The Greek word πάροικος is sojourners here, and it is absolutely not foreigners, as the King James Version has it translated. Forms of this word appear at Luke 24:18, in Acts 7:6 and 13:17, in Hebrews 11:9, and in 1 Peter 1:17 and 2:11. (See Strong’s #s 3939, 3940, and 3941.) In Hebrews 11:9 Paul uses the verb form of this same word where he wrote of Abraham that “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise”.
Liddell & Scott define the related noun παροικία as a sojourning in a foreign land, citing the New Testament as their source. That is the sense in which Paul uses this word πάροικος, of the alienated Israelites who after being put off by Yahweh their God according to His Word in the Old Testament, went and dwelt in other lands. In that manner were the promises to Abraham transmitted through Jacob fulfilled, that their offspring would become many nations. From Paul’s perspective, these sojourners are emigrants, not immigrants. The Ephesians were not immigrating into Palestine to join the Judaeans. They were a people who were alienated, and not aliens. They were ancient Israelites sojourning abroad, as were the rest of the nations descended from Abraham in Europe.
Paul is telling them that they now had reconciliation in Christ, as for example we see it foretold in Isaiah chapter 54: “1 Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD. [Comparing the Israelites of the dispersions, the uncircumcised, to those of the remnant in Judaea, the circumcised.] 2 Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; 3 For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Nations, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited. [All of this had happened when the Israelites migrated West into Europe, and many of them into the East into Asia, over the many centuries before Christ.] 4 Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. 5 For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. 6 For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. 7 For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. 8 In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.”
Therefore Paul concludes that the household of Yahweh God is, in verse 20:
20 being built upon the foundation of the ambassadors and the prophets, Yahshua Christ being the cornerstone Himself. 21 In whom the whole building joined together grows into a holy temple with the Prince, 22 in which you also are being built together into an abode of Yahweh [B has “Christ” instead] in Spirit.
As the apostle Peter had written, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:5)
The word for cornerstone, ἀκρογωνιαῖος (Strong's # 204), appears elsewhere in the New Testament only at 1 Peter 2:6. It literally means one “at the extreme angle” (Liddell & Scott), but here it is cornerstone, and while the actual word for stone does not appear in the Greek (except in the Codex Bezae), properly the phrase should be read “Yahshua Christ being the apex Himself.” Brenton also translated the word, by itself, “cornerstone” in this same context, in his Septuagint at Isaiah 28:16.
So the body of Christ is built upon the apostles and the prophets. The prophets foretold what would happen to the children of Israel, and the apostles sought out lost Israel in order to reconcile them to their God with the announcement of the Gospel. Christ Himself, in Luke chapter 4, quotes Isaiah in reference to the purpose of the Gospel where He said: “18 The Spirit of Yahweh is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and a restoration of sight to the blind. To send off the broken with release. 19 To proclaim a year acceptable by Yahweh!”
Doing so, Christ was quoting Isaiah chapter 61 where it says: “1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”
The meek are the meek of the children of Israel. When they hear the true Gospel it humbles them. The brokenhearted are the children of Israel. When they hear the true Gospel they realize the gravity of their national sin. The captives are the children of Israel. When they hear the true Gospel they realize they are the children of Zion taken captive by the Assyrians, and now by Mystery Babylon. Those in prison are those same captives. When Christ cited this passage in Luke, He also evidently borrowed a line from further up on the scroll, since the words “to send off the broken with release” are from Isaiah 58:6, and the broken have release, or liberty, only in Christ. The restoration of sight to the blind are also those same children of Israel, and it is time their sight was restored. It can only be restored by hearing the true gospel, that of the apostles and the prophets which has not been taught since the days of Paul of Tarsus.
If your gospel is not founded on both the apostles and the prophets, then it is not the Gospel of Christ.