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Chapter XVII.—The Epistle to the Laodiceans. The Proper Designation is to the Ephesians. Recapitulation of All Things in Christ from the Beginning of the Creation. No Room for Marcion’s Christ Here. Numerous Parallels Between This Epistle and Passages in the Old Testament. The Prince of the Power of the Air, and the God of This World—Who? Creation and Regeneration the Work of One God. How Christ Has Made the Law Obsolete. A Vain Erasure of Marcion’s. The Apostles as Well as the Prophets from the Creator.
We have it on the true tradition59485948 Veritati. of the Church, that this epistle was sent to the Ephesians, not to the Laodiceans. Marcion, however, was very desirous of giving it the new title (of Laodicean),59495949 Titulum interpolare gestiit: or, “of corrupting its title.” as if he were extremely accurate in investigating such a point. But of what consequence are the titles, since in writing to a certain church the apostle did in fact write to all? It is certain that, whoever they were to whom he wrote,59505950 Certe tamen. he declared Him to be God in Christ with whom all things agree which are predicted.59515951 For a discussion on the title of this epistle in a succinct shape, the reader is referred to Dean Alford’s Gr. Test. vol. iii. Prolegomena, chap. ii. sec. 2. Now, to what god will most suitably belong all those things which relate to “that good pleasure, which God hath purposed in the mystery of His will, that in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might recapitulate” (if I may so say, according to the exact meaning of the Greek word59525952 ἀνακεφαλαιώσασθαι, “to sum up into a head.”) “all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth,”59535953 Eph. i. 9, 10. but to Him whose are all things from their beginning, yea the beginning itself too; from whom issue the times and the dispensation of the fulness of times, according to which all things up to the very first are gathered up in Christ? What beginning, however, has the other god; that is to say, how can anything proceed from him, who has no work to show? And if there be no beginning, how can there be times? If no times, what fulness of times can there be? And if no fulness, what dispensation? Indeed, what has he ever done on earth, that any long dispensation of times to be fulfilled can be put to his account, for the accomplishment of all things in Christ, even of things in heaven? Nor can we possibly suppose that any things whatever have been at any time done in heaven by any other God than Him by whom, as all men allow, all things have been done on earth. Now, if it is impossible for all these things from the beginning to be reckoned to any other God than the Creator, who will believe that an alien god has recapitulated them in an alien Christ, instead of their own proper Author in His own Christ? If, again, they belong to the Creator, they must needs be separate from the other god; and if separate, then opposed to him. But then how can opposites be gathered together into him by whom they are in short destroyed? Again, what Christ do the following words announce, when the apostle says: “That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ?”59545954 Eph. i. 12. Now who could have first trusted—i.e. previously trusted59555955 He explains “præsperasse by ante sperasse.”—in God, before His advent, except the Jews to whom Christ was previously announced, from the beginning? He who was thus foretold, was also foretrusted. Hence the apostle refers the statement to himself, that is, to the Jews, in order that he may draw a distinction with respect to the Gentiles, (when he goes on to say:) “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel (of your salvation); in whom ye believed, and were sealed with His Holy Spirit of promise.”59565956 Eph. i. 13. Of what promise? That which was made through Joel: “In the last days will I pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh,”59575957 Joel ii. 28. that is, on all nations. Therefore the Spirit and the Gospel will be found in the Christ, who was foretrusted, because foretold. Again, “the Father of glory”59585958 Eph. ii. 17. is He whose Christ, when ascending to heaven, is celebrated as “the King of Glory” in the Psalm: “Who is this King of Glory? the Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory.”59595959 Ps. xxiv. 10. From Him also is besought “the spirit of wisdom,”59605960 Eph. i. 17. at whose disposal is enumerated that sevenfold distribution of the spirit of grace by Isaiah.59615961 Isa. xi. 2. He likewise will grant “the enlightenment of the eyes of the understanding,”59625962 Eph. i. 18. who has also enriched our natural eyes with light; to whom, moreover, the blindness of the people is offensive: “And who is blind, but my servants?…yea, the servants of God have become blind.”59635963 Isa. xlii. 19 (Sept.). In His gift, too, are “the riches (of the glory) of His inheritance in the saints,”59645964 Eph. i. 18. who promised such an inheritance in the call of the Gentiles: “Ask of me, and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance.”59655965 Ps. ii. 8. It was He who “wrought in Christ His mighty power, by raising Him from the dead, and setting Him at His own right hand, and putting all things under His feet”59665966 Eph. i. 19–22.—even the same who said: “Sit Thou on my right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.”59675967 Ps. cx. 1. For in another passage the Spirit says to the Father concerning the Son: “Thou hast put all things under His feet.”59685968 Ps. viii. 7. Now, if from all these facts which are found in the Creator there is yet to be deduced59695969 Infertur. another god and another Christ, let us go in quest of the Creator. I suppose, forsooth,59705970 Plane. we find Him, when he speaks of such as “were dead in trespasses and sins, wherein they had walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, who worketh in the children of disobedience.”59715971 Eph. ii. 1, 2. But Marcion must not here interpret the world as meaning the God of the world.59725972 Deo mundi: i.e. the God who made the world. For a creature bears no resemblance to the Creator; the thing made, none to its Maker; the world, none to God. He, moreover, who is the Prince of the power of the ages must not be thought to be called the prince of the power of the air; for He who is chief over the higher powers derives no title from the lower powers, although these, too, may be ascribed to Him. Nor, again, can He possibly seem to be the instigator59735973 Operator: in reference to the expression in ver. 2, “who now worketh,” etc. of that unbelief which He Himself had rather to endure at the hand of the Jews and the Gentiles alike. We may therefore simply conclude that59745974 Sufficit igitur si. these designations are unsuited to the Creator. There is another being to whom they are more applicable—and the apostle knew very well who that was. Who then is he? Undoubtedly he who has raised up “children of disobedience” against the Creator Himself ever since he took possession of that “air” of His; even as the prophet makes him say: “I will set my throne above the stars;…I will go up above the clouds; I will be like the Most High.”59755975 Isa. xiv. 13, 14. An inexact quotation from the Septuagint. This must mean the devil, whom in another passage (since such will they there have the apostle’s meaning to be) we shall recognize in the appellation the god of this world.59765976 On this and another meaning given to the phrase in 2 Cor. iv. 4, see above, chap. xi. For he has filled the whole world with the lying pretence of his own divinity. To be sure,59775977 Plane: an ironical particle here. if he had not existed, we might then possibly have applied these descriptions to the Creator. But the apostle, too, had lived in Judaism; and when he parenthetically observed of the sins (of that period of his life), “in which also we all had our conversation in times past,”59785978 Eph. ii. 3. he must not be understood to indicate that the Creator was the lord of sinful men, and the prince of this air; but as meaning that in his Judaism he had been one of the children of disobedience, having the devil as his instigator—when he persecuted the church and the Christ of the Creator. Therefore he says: “We also were the children of wrath,” but “by nature.”59795979 Eph. ii. 3. Let the heretic, however, not contend that, because the Creator called the Jews children, therefore the Creator is the lord of wrath.59805980 In Marcion’s sense. For when (the apostle) says, “We were by nature the children of wrath,” inasmuch as the Jews were not the Creator’s children by nature, but by the election of their fathers, he (must have) referred their being children of wrath to nature, and not to the Creator, adding this at last, “even as others,”59815981 Eph. ii. 3. who, of course, were not children of God. It is manifest that sins, and lusts of the flesh, and unbelief, and anger, are ascribed to the common nature of all mankind, the devil however leading that nature astray,59825982 Captante. which he has already infected with the implanted germ of sin. “We,” says he, “are His workmanship, created in Christ.”59835983 Eph. ii. 10. It is one thing to make (as a workman), another thing to create. But he assigns both to One. Man is the workmanship of the Creator. He therefore who made man (at first), created him also in Christ. As touching the substance of nature, He “made” him; as touching the work of grace, He “created” him. Look also at what follows in connection with these words: “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called uncircumcision by that which has the name of circumcision in the flesh made by the hand—that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise,59845984 Literally, “the covenants and their promise.” having no hope, and without God in the world.”59855985 Eph. ii. 11, 12. Now, without what God and without what Christ were these Gentiles? Surely, without Him to whom the commonwealth59865986 Conversatio: rather, “intercourse with Israel.” of Israel belonged, and the covenants and the promise. “But now in Christ,” says he, “ye who were sometimes far off are made nigh by His blood.”59875987 Eph. ii. 13. From whom were they far off before? From the (privileges) whereof he speaks above, even from the Christ of the Creator, from the commonwealth of Israel, from the covenants, from the hope of the promise, from God Himself. Since this is the case, the Gentiles are consequently now in Christ made nigh to these (blessings), from which they were once far off. But if we are in Christ brought so very nigh to the commonwealth of Israel, which comprises the religion of the divine Creator, and to the covenants and to the promise, yea to their very God Himself, it is quite ridiculous (to suppose that) the Christ of the other god has brought us to this proximity to the Creator from afar. The apostle had in mind that it had been predicted concerning the call of the Gentiles from their distant alienation in words like these: “They who were far off from me have come to my righteousness.”59885988 This is rather an allusion to, than a quotation of, Isa. xlvi. 12, 13. For the Creator’s righteousness no less than His peace was announced in Christ, as we have often shown already. Therefore he says: “He is our peace, who hath made both one”59895989 Eph. ii. 14.—that is, the Jewish nation and the Gentile world. What is near, and what was far off now that “the middle wall has been broken down” of their “enmity,” (are made one) “in His flesh.”59905990 Eph. ii. 15. But Marcion erased the pronoun His, that he might make the enmity refer to flesh, as if (the apostle spoke) of a carnal enmity, instead of the enmity which was a rival to Christ.59915991 “The law of commandments contained in ordinances.” And thus you have (as I have said elsewhere) exhibited the stupidity of Pontus, rather than the adroitness of a Marrucinian,59925992 He expresses the proverbial adage very tersely, “non Marrucine, sed Pontice.” for you here deny him flesh to whom in the verse above you allowed blood! Since, however, He has made the law obsolete59935993 Vacuam fecit. by His own precepts, even by Himself fulfilling the law (for superfluous is, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” when He says, “Thou shalt not look on a woman to lust after her;” superfluous also is, “Thou shalt do no murder,” when He says, “Thou shalt not speak evil of thy neighbour,”) it is impossible to make an adversary of the law out of one who so completely promotes it.59945994 Ex adjutore. “For to create59955995 Conderet: “create,” to keep up the distinction between this and facere, “to make.” in Himself of twain,” for He who had made is also the same who creates (just as we have found it stated above: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus”),59965996 Eph. ii. 10. “one new man, making peace” (really new, and really man—no phantom—but new, and newly born of a virgin by the Spirit of God), “that He might reconcile both unto God”59975997 Eph. ii. 15–16. (even the God whom both races had offended—both Jew and Gentile), “in one body,” says he, “having in it slain the enmity by the cross.”59985998 Eph. ii. 16. Thus we find from this passage also, that there was in Christ a fleshly body, such as was able to endure the cross. “When, therefore, He came and preached peace to them that were near and to them which were afar off,” we both obtained “access to the Father,” being “now no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (even of Him from whom, as we have shown above, we were aliens, and placed far off), “built upon the foundation of the apostles”59995999 Eph. ii. 17–20.—(the apostle added), “and the prophets;” these words, however, the heretic erased, forgetting that the Lord had set in His Church not only apostles, but prophets also. He feared, no doubt, that our building was to stand in Christ upon the foundation of the ancient prophets,60006000 “Because, if our building as Christians rested in part upon that foundation, our God, and the God of the Jews must be the same, which Marcion denied” (Lardner). since the apostle himself never fails to build us up everywhere with (the words of) the prophets. For whence did he learn to call Christ “the chief corner-stone,”60016001 Eph. ii. 20. but from the figure given him in the Psalm: “The stone which the builders rejected is become the head (stone) of the corner?”60026002 Ps. cxviii. 22.
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