An Outline of the Epistle to the Ephesians.

(The substances of Bible Readings held at Thropton with Wm. C. Reid.)

Ephesians 1
Ephesians 2
Ephesians 3
Ephesians 4
Ephesians 5
Ephesians 6

Ephesians 1.

This precious epistle opens out for us the highest Christian blessings and privileges,
unfolding the relationships into which the blessed God has brought us with Himself, and our associations in nearness to the Lord Jesus Christ. All that God has given to us in the riches of His grace is in Christ, and is the fruit of his counsels of sovereign love, which have been secured by the death of Jesus.

Having stated his apostleship, his authority for writing to them, Paul addresses the brethren at Ephesus as the saints and faithful in Christ Jesus. They were saints by the calling of God, and faithful as answering to the divine call. Because of their unfaithfulness, the Galatians and Corinthians could not be so addressed. With the invocation of grace and peace, the Christian revelation is stated, as in all the epistles bearing Paul's name, that God is Father, and Jesus Christ is Lord.

Breaking forth in praise by the Spirit, Paul speaks of the double relationship of the Lord Jesus to God the Father: as Man He is related to God, and as Son He is in relationship with the Father. According to this double relationship, we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. Israel's blessings were earthly, material and temporal, in association with an earthly Messiah; ours are heavenly, spiritual, and eternal, in association with the heavenly Christ. Our calling, being heavenly, belongs to a system of divine love and glory existing, in God's counsels, before the foundation of the world; and the God of our Lord Jesus Christ chose us in Him, that we might live in the knowledge and joy of His love before His face. For this we must be like God Himself, holy and blameless; and this could only be our portion in Christ, as the fruit of God's own work. Moreover, the Father desired that our enjoyment of His love might be in a relationship of nearness and intimacy; so He marked us out beforehand to share His Son's place in the consciousness of that same relationship. Sonship, the nearest possible relationship to God, the highest Christian blessing, is ours, through and along with God's blessed Son; not by our seeking or choosing, but by God's eternal counsels, according to the good pleasure of His will.

Not on account of anything that we are naturally, have we been brought so near to God and the Father, into the most wonderful blessings, which far surpass the loftiest thoughts or imagination of man; all originated in the heart and mind of God, and comes from Him in infinite love and kindness, for the satisfaction and delight of His heart. Indeed, these blessings come to us in spite of what we are, being entirely the fruit of God's counsels, in which the glory of His grace is praised by the display of infinite kindness. This grace also introduces us into God's favour in its fulness and perfection, as seen in Christ His Beloved. We learn what that place is as we see what Christ is to God, and as we realise that His place is ours, for we are there in association with Him.

In all that we have considered, God has been manifesting His own thoughts, not in reference to what we are down here as derived from Adam, not as looking upon our natural state in the flesh or our character as poor failing mortals: He has been telling us of His counsels of love that existed before we had any being. Now we are to see that God has also taken account of our ruin and guilt, and has met our deep poverty in the riches of His grace. And it is in the Beloved, in whom we have been taken into God's favour, that we have redemption, through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. All the efficacy of the great work wrought out on the cross abides in the Person of the Christ, who did the work, where He now is at the right hand of God.

Is it not wonderful to think that the same grace which forgave us our sins has abounded to us in enlightening us with the knowledge of the mystery of His will? What a God is our God! He desires that we might know His great thoughts for the glory of His Son. What wisdom and intelligence God has manifested in making such communications! He raises us from the lowest pit to take us into the most precious secrets of His great heart of love. Such a course would not be considered wise or intelligent by the mighty men of the world, but God's thoughts are altogether different from man's, and human wisdom and intelligence are foolishness when viewed in the light of what is divine. And what a mystery it is! To gratify His heart of love, to give Himself pleasure, God has purposed to set Christ, His Own dear Son, as the Head and centre of a universe filled with glory and blessing. This was in the mind of God long before Adam was put into Eden; God purposed it in Himself; and nothing that has happened or will yet take place, during the ages of time, will frustrate or in the least possible degree hinder the accomplishment of the purpose of God. Throughout the past ages, from the days of Adam, man has been displaying himself in all the iniquity, rebellion, corruption, and falsehood of his fallen nature, and as influenced by the powers of darkness; but in the coming ages God is going to display what He is in Christ, in all the moral beauties and perfections of His holy nature, and in all the grace and love of His heart of infinite love. To this end God has enthroned His dear Son, according to His counsels, that as Head, He might fill every sphere of authority and government in the wide universe, to direct, control, energise and sustain the whole scene, for the glory of the Father, and for the blessing of every family named by the Father in that day.

But the glory of God is not to be praised in His Son alone; according to the same purpose that has set Christ as Man in His exalted and glorious position, we have obtained as associated with Christ, as blessed in Him, an inheritance. This is no afterthought with God; He marked us out beforehand for this portion; and as regards the present moment, He works all things after the counsel of His own will. Nothing in the present course of things can turn God from His purpose; rather He makes everything subserve His purpose. The counsels of God's will effectuate the purpose of God; even the giving up of Jesus was "By the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God." Israel's rejection of their Messiah is turned to account by God, in the great wisdom displayed in His counsels, for now He secures a believing remnant from Israel, which trusts in Christ before the nation turns to Him in repentance; and this remnant has part with Christ in His heavenly glory in the coming day, and is for the praise of God's glory. But this company, sharing Christ's heavenly glory, is not only from Israel; it embraces the Gentiles who now believe the Gospel sent from God. This is the Gospel of our salvation, which presents God to us in all the grace of His heart; which tells of the cleansing efficacy of the blood of Jesus, and of the righteousness in which we are before God through the death and resurrection of His Son.

Having believed the Gospel, God has claimed us for Him-self by sealing us with His Holy Spirit. As in the type of the cleansing of the leper, the blood was first put upon the ear, then the oil was "put upon the place of the blood" (Lev. 14:28). The same Spirit that claims us for God, and thus marks us for obtaining part with Christ in the coming inheritance, is the One by whom we are given to anticipate the joys and blessedness of our future portion, for He is the earnest of the inheritance. Already acquired by the death of the Lord Jesus, the inheritance will, at His coming, be redeemed by His divine power. At that day, those from among the Gentiles, who have now trusted in Christ by the Gospel, will be for the praise of the glory of God along with the pre-trusting remnant of Israel. How surpassing wonderful that God's glory is going to be praised in men! A marvellous vessel, God's own workmanship in new creation, composed of those who once were sinners far from Him, called from among Jew and Gentile, will shine forth in all the living glory of God, a glory that will be praised in the whole vast creation. Surely in the presence of such grace, that has given us part in this glory, our hearts bow in wonder and worship

After revealing the purpose and counsels of God, which bring to us the good pleasure of God's will, the mystery of His will, and the counsel of His will, in which Christ's pre-eminent place is secured, as also the blessing of those brought into association with Christ, the apostle prays for the saints. He desires that the saints of God should enter into the knowledge of what God has so graciously made known to them. With confidence he can thus pray for them, because their lives had manifested the fundamental marks of the Christian, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and love to all the saints. Alas! only too often had he to write to the saints about different forms of evil, which God allowed to come out, that we might have in the inspired page His mind regarding them; but here the saints have a testimony regarding their walk which the apostle can speak of with pleasure, and God enables him to unfold to them the deep secrets of His heart.

The prayer in this chapter is addressed to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, while that in Ephesians 3 is to the Father; these answering to the double relationship, already noticed, in which the Lord Jesus stands to God as Man and to the Father as Son. The former relates to objective matters; the latter being mainly subjective. All the glory of which we have read, the glory that already shines in the face of Jesus, and which shall be displayed in Him and in those associated with Him, has its origin in the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory. All proceeds from God and all shall return to God; even as we see all the glory emanating here from the Father of Glory, and returning to God the Father at the close of Ephesians 3, where we read, "To Him be glory in the assembly in Christ Jesus unto all generations of the age of ages."

Paul first desires that the Father of glory would give the saints the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Him. This belongs to the spiritual state necessary for the reception of the divine communications vouchsafed. It is altogether impossible to apprehend the wisdom and intelligence in which God has abounded to us in the revelation of the mystery of His will apart from having this spirit of wisdom; nor can we truly enter into the blessed revelation that God has made of Himself in His wonderful purpose unless we have the spirit of revelation. This spirit is surely the spiritual affinity, produced within us through communion with God in regard to the communications He has made. We are often content to go on in a low spiritual state in which we cannot enter into God's highest thoughts for us; and the precious things pertaining to the full knowledge of God lie unexplored and unknown. Our knowledge of God largely depends on the character of our communion with Him. Most pray to God for their needs, and about their troubles; others will also pray for the prosperity of the Gospel, and it may be for the whole field of God's interests in the world; but how few comparatively go to God to speak with Him about His purpose and the glory of His Son. It is this last that will give us from God the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of Him. Depend upon it, if we are absorbed with present things, even if it be with things that are right in themselves, we are not likely to be much concerned with God's purpose, and the great wealth of blessing which is ours because of it. It is not that we may not know the terms of the full know-ledge of God as revealed in these preceding verses; the eyes of our hearts being enlightened would indicate that it is necessary to have the light of them in terms* before there can be the true knowledge in the heart. Two things are therefore essential for knowing these things; first, the spiritual state to apprehend the truth; second, the light brought before us through ministry from God.

[*In having the true spiritual state, the eyes of the heart become enlightened with the truth, which consequently brings the divine knowledge into the heart.]

Now we have the three objective matters that God would have us know; the hope of His calling; the riches of the glory of His inheritance in His saints; the exceeding greatness of His power towards the believer. God's calling, as made known thus far in the earlier part of the chapter has in mind the blessed relationship and position of sonship into which we have been brought. The hope of the calling is what actually awaits us in the coming day, when we enter into the fulness of the blessing prepared for us before the Father's face along with His dear Son.

We are also to know the riches of the glory of God's inheritance in the saints. Even as of old Jehovah took possession of Canaan in Israel, so will He possess the universe in the coming day in those He has set apart for Himself, the saints of the present dispensation. Many an earthly inheritance is glorious to look upon, but it is poor as having low fertility and little mineral wealth; others may be rich in minerals, but far from glorious to the sight. God's inheritance to Israel was both glorious and rich as is learned from Deut. 3:25; Deut. 8:7-9, and other Scriptures. So also the vast heavenly inheritance of the coming day, yea the universal inheritance of which Christ is Heir, and which God is going to take up in Christ's co-heirs. Its glories and its riches far surpass all that we can conceive, for even at best, we see through a glass obscurely now. The language of 1 Cor. 2:9-10 might well be taken up regarding the nature of this inheritance. Not to angels has God given this high honour, but to those who were poor sinners, cleansed and fitted in His grace and by the working of His divine power for His eternal glory and pleasure.

Moreover we are to know the exceeding greatness of God's power towards us; power that has been displayed in taking Christ from death and setting Him down in the highest place in heaven. This is the power that is going to accomplish all that lies in God's purpose; the power that will bring those God has marked out for blessing into the place

He has given them along with Christ. How strange it might seem to find the Man of God's purpose lying in death; the One who is to fill the universe as Head with the glory of God. But He was there for the glory of God, laying the basis in redemption for the bringing to pass of all that was in God's will; and it is from this point that God intervenes. He intervenes with a mighty display of His great power in the resurrection of Christ; in taking Him from the very lowest point, the point of man's greatest weakness, and exalting Him to the very pinnacle of the universe. This one mighty movement of God's power sets Christ above every sphere of earthly and heavenly government, and above every name of renown, both of the present age and the coming age of glory; and this power is about to bring us into the fulness of blessing within the Father's House, and into the inheritance to which we have been called.

Exalted and glorified, Christ has had all things put under His feet; and the Church has been united to Christ to share His exalted place. Even as Adam was head over the lower creation, and as Eve was united to him, so Christ has the Church united to Him, to share His place as Head over all the things in heaven and on earth. But the Church as Christ's body is part of Himself; united to Him by the Holy Spirit, in view of the day of the display of His glory. When Christ fills all in all, the Church, His fulness, is the living and glorious vessel in which the mind and will of the Head is expressed to the vast universe that He fills. What a day will that be for God, when He possesses the inheritance in His saints, and Christ fills the universe in His body.

Ephesians 2.

The great power of God, manifested in taking Christ out of death and setting Him down at His right hand in the heavenlies, is here operative in quickening from among Gentile and Jew those whom God has marked out for blessing according to His eternal counsels. As quickened they now live in the knowledge of God's love, and have been raised up and made to sit in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. Like Ephesians 1:12-13, the truth is presented separately regarding God's blessing of Gentile and Jew.

First of all, the Gentile is seen as dead in deeds offensive to God and in acts of lawlessness, walking in a course belonging to a world afar from God, where all subsists for the glory of man and for the gratification of his sinful nature. Blinded and led on by Satan, who brings the darkening influences of another realm into this world, of which he has become the god and Prince, those who disobey the truth of God (given in testimony in the Gospel) are found the willing slaves of his power and will. Spite of the light from God, given in God's goodness to Israel, the Jews were no better than the Gentiles, being sons of disobedience. Their lives were lived in fleshly lusts, dictated by the evil impulses of the flesh and by the thoughts of a mind in wilful opposition to God. Not one whit different into practice to the Gentiles; in nature they were children of wrath even as they. Being found without a movement within him answering to God, God must work entirely from Himself, according to His sovereign mercy, if man is to be blessed.

But the God Who is presented in chapter 1 as rich in grace and rich in glory, is here seen as rich in mercy, because of His infinite and boundless compassions to Jew and Gentile. Found alike in moral and spiritual death, incapable of the slightest response to what is divine, God communicates to them His own life, an entirely different life to that given to Adam in Eden; it is the life in which His Own Son lives before His face in the heavenly places; and in this life they live with Christ in the sphere of glory and love that He fills. What a salvation is this! Saved out of death's clasp, and from the sinful condition that formerly marked us, we are now able to answer to the thoughts and feelings of the heart of God, as having His life. This salvation is altogether of grace; it is God's sovereign unmerited favour, unsought by us, and unknown till God took hold of us. Observe that quickening is not used of Christ here; in chapter 1 He is raised, but we are quickened before we are raised up. The reason is evident; quickening is a moral thought here, which never could apply to One Who is perfect in every moral feature, the Holy, Harmless, Undefiled, separate from sinners. But we are quickened that we might be suitable morally for association with that blessed perfect Man; that we might have part with Him, sharing His place before the face of His God and Father, and ultimately sharing with Him all the glory.

In quickening us, God has given us a new state; but He has also given us a new position in raising us up and making us to sit in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. This is the new place which belongs to those associated with the heavenly Christ; it is here we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ, in a world of divine glory and affections, established in new creation according to God's counsels. How wonderful, that we can turn away from this present world through which we pass, and look up to Christ in the heavenlies, and say "That is our place." Our thoughts should be centred there; our present course regulated by what God has so graciously given us in His own presence. Then God has told us what is before Him in so blessing us: He has given us this exalted position and manifested this marvellous and abundant kindness, to display before the universe in the coming ages, the surpassing riches of His grace. What kindness can compare with God's kindness? He has taken rebel and ruined sinners from the depths of sin and shame, and out from the power of death, and given them to share His Son's place in the brightest spot in heaven. Every saved soul in that vast assembly, sharing Christ's glory, will display to the admiring hosts of earth and heaven something of the wonderful kindness that brought him there, some feature of the grace of God in which He is so exceedingly rich.

Again we read that we are saved by grace. Whether we think of the beginning of the work of grace, in saving us from the dreadful plight we once were in, or its crown in bringing us to the place where grace is to be displayed, it must be evident that we had no hand in it at all; all is from God, His sovereign intervention to bless us. But faith laid hold on the salvation proffered in the Gospel; but even this precious faith did not spring from anything in us, it was the gift of God. Nor was this great salvation presented to man on the principle of works. The Law had proved man incapable of receiving on that principle; moreover, this principle excluded all thought of human boasting; that day of the display of His rich grace will be for God's boast, and ours of Him. God then has been working for us, to bring us into such untold blessing, but He has also been working with us and in us, for we are His workmanship. His workmanship is in new creation; we are formed after Christ's image in suitability for the place we have in Christ now in the heavenly places, and the place we shall have with Christ in the glory of the coming ages. But there is the present object of the new creation; the beautiful features of the new creation are to be manifested in the old creation circumstances in which we are now found. The light of heaven is to shine forth in the body of humiliation; the good works so manifest in the life of Jesus are to be richly shed in the Christian's walk. God has nothing else for us here than that we should walk in the steps of His dear Son. There is naught but good, perfect goodness in the new creation; and it is wonderful that its precious fruits can be brought to this barren waste in those on whom God has wrought. There are no good works in man naturally; he never could have received salvation on this ground; but what man could not produce for God, God has produced in man, and all the outcome of His wisdom, grace and power, in new creation.

Knowing our present portion in Christ, and our future in the glory with Christ, we are not to forget the pit from which we were dug. This will but serve to enhance in our eyes the richness of the grace of God. We were poor Gentile sinners in the flesh, and as uncircumcised, kept out of the place of privilege in which favoured Israel enjoyed dispensational and ceremonial nearness to God, with the knowledge of God in the revelation of Himself to the fathers and in the Old Testament Scriptures. As Gentiles we had no claim on Christ, for He was Israel's Messiah; nor could we claim blessing from the covenants containing the promises, for these were not made with the Gentiles; all that Israel possessed was for themselves, not for sharing with the nations. There was no single ray of hope to break in upon our darkness; a darkness in which we were as having given God up, not thinking it good to have Him in our knowledge. What a position! what a state! what a prospect! Never a longing within the bosom for God, unaware of our desperate need, not a single glimmer of divine light upon our goings, not a prospect of blessing before us; but distanced from all good and love in our evil ways, our course was shaped for eternal misery in perdition.

What a contrast to all this is now ours through the intervention of God! We are in Christ Jesus, occupying this blessed place before God's face, having been brought into this place of nearness by the precious blood of Christ. The blood that was sprinkled on the mercy seat of old, and before it seven times, foreshadowed for us God's glory secured in bringing a people near to Himself by the blood of Him Who shall fill the whole universe with God's glory. And Christ Himself is the peace of Jew and Gentile blessed in Him, and made one in Him. There are very pronounced distinctions between Jew and Gentile; they are not one in position, manner of life, religion or outlook; the law has made these distinctions; it was a wall which kept the Jew separate from the Gentile. The law set out what kind of life the Jews should live; they were to live for God as apart from the Gentiles with all their idolatry and corruption. But in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, the law has been set aside as the rule of life for the converted Jew; it never was the rule of life for the Gentile; nor was it ever given as the rule for the Christian's life. Christ is the rule of life for the Christian; and it is in Him that God has formed Jew and Gentile into one new man. Two different kinds of men, both sinners, could not but be at enmity, for both had different and opposing rules of life. Indeed, the Jew had the law as his rule of life, but the Gentile was lawless, doing what was right in his own eyes. But God has now ONE man, and he is a NEW man. Hence there can no longer exist the old enmity. Both Jew and Gentile have gone from before God's eye, and the new man that is before Him bears all the blessed features of Christ, His well-beloved Son.

But God has not only brought the Jew and Gentile believers into right relations with each other; He has brought them into right relations with Himself. There was not only the enmity existing between Jew and Gentile, which kept them apart, the law of commandments contained in ordinances; there was also the natural enmity of man's heart to God, in Jew as well as Gentile. That enmity had to go before man could be reconciled to God. How was God going to dispel the enmity of the human heart towards Him? The answer is found in the Cross of Christ. In that Cross, in which the heart of God has been told out in all its mighty love, our old man was crucified with Christ; the old man in whom there were found and displayed the features which alike marked both Jew and Gentile; and the love of God told out there has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, thus displacing every bit of enmity towards God in those who have the Spirit. This wonderful reconciliation has been effected in one body, into which all believers, whether Jew or Gentile, have been formed for the pleasure of God. That the rich blessings, secured by His death, might be brought to us, Christ Jesus has preached peace to the far off Gentiles through the Gospel, and peace to the Jews who were near to God as His earthly people. Both needed the good news of peace, which could never have been found by the lawless Gentile, or enjoyed under the labour and burdens of an exacting and cursing law. And not only does the Christ bring to us the blessedness of peace, but through Him Jew and Gentile, have access by One Spirit to the Father. Here we reach what God has in mind for us while awaiting the full blessing of the coming day. His presence is open to us; it is to HIMSELF that we can come, to be found before Him in the deep enjoyment of His love, to enter into the glorious thoughts revealed in His purpose, and to worship Him in spirit and in truth. What communion is ours! This is now ours in the nearest possible relationship to the FATHER himself.

Such privileges and blessings being ours, we can realise that we are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens of the saints, and of the household of God. We participate in a spiritual and heavenly way in all the blessings and privileges of the City and House of God. Of this spiritual structure the New Testament apostles and prophets form the foundation, perhaps both personally and in their writings; and as having received the truth ministered by them, we have been built upon the foundation. Of this building, Jesus Christ is the chief corner-stone; the One upon whom every section and every line of the structure converges; who gives character, ornament, and beauty to each detail and to the whole, and in whom we read every thought of God relating to its erection, purpose and glory. In this glorious Person, the whole structure is reared; it all bears His features; it grows gracefully and silently (like Solomon's building) towards its glorious destiny, a holy temple in the Lord. When the building is completed, with every saint of this dispensation in his own place, according to God's counsels, it will be the shrine of His glory, the vessel in which God will dwell to display what He is in the Lord Jesus; Who from this place will administrate the world to come. Meanwhile, as acknowledging the authority of the Lord, the saints are built together for a dwelling of God by the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 3.

A comparison of the opening verses of Ephesians 3 and Ephesians 4 shows that this chapter is a parenthesis. On the basis of the great unfoldings of the previous chapters, Paul is about to exhort the saints, and to emphasize his remarks speaks of himself as a prisoner on their account: this at once leads him to develop the truth of the mystery, the announcing of which had brought him into bonds. Had he preached only to the Jews, or proclaimed a Gospel which gave the Gentiles blessings on a lower plane than the Jews, he would not have been so persistently and bitterly assailed; nor would he have now been incarcerated at Rome. But he gladly accepted his lot, glorying in being the prisoner of Christ Jesus.

Having received an administration of divine grace for the Gentiles, Paul had the privilege of making it known in his ministry of the Gospel, and in his ministry of the truth of the mystery. This mystery, a wonderful divine secret, as we shall learn, was not given to Paul by man; he received it directly from heaven. Apart from the divine disclosure to him, he could not have spoken of the things connected with the mystery in the previous chapters; the truth of the church as the body of Christ in chapter 1 and the reconciling of Jew and Gentile in one body to God as declared in chapter 2 could not have been made known without the knowledge of the truth of the mystery. This glorious secret reveals that Jew and Gentile in being united to each other by the Spirit are also united to Christ their Head in heaven.

God had not made known the mystery to the saints of old; nor was it hidden for them or for us in the Scriptures of the Old Testament. Many things which have now come out plainly in the Gospel are to be found in the writings of the prophets. Peter expressly declares this; the prophets looked into their own writings to discover the secrets connected with the sufferings and glory of Christ, but the Holy Spirit told them that certain things they had ministered were for the saints of a coming generation and not for themselves. But THE MYSTERY was not among these secret things; its revelation awaited the ascension of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit. It was not to Paul only that God made known this secret — although the ministry of it was peculiarly his — but also to the apostles and New Testament prophets by the Holy Spirit. Here, the mystery is unfolded in three distinct parts: Jew and Gentle are joint-heirs, a joint-body, and joint partakers of God's promise in Christ by the Gospel.

That Israel had been promised an inheritance by God was well known. Abraham was the heir of the world, and his seed became partakers of the promises, nor will God set aside His promise for Israel's blessing; but there had never been a hint in the Old Testament of an inheritance in which Jew and Gentile would partake on the same footing without discrimination. Israel's promised inheritance was earthly, but the mystery divulges an inheritance hitherto unknown, a heavenly inheritance, yea one which enfolds all that has been created, of which Christ, according to God's purpose, is the heir, and the saints joint-heirs together and with Him. The Jew had no natural claim on this great and glorious inheritance any more than the poor outcast Gentile, but in believing the Gospel both are brought into the most exalted place to share the high honour of association with Him whom God has glorified in view of acquiring the purchased possession.

Nor is there any hint in the Old Testament of the removal of the distinctions between Jew and Gentile, and that they should be formed together into one body. God had promised that in Abraham and in his seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed, but this gave Israel the central and dominating place among the nations. Again God told Israel that if they were faithful they would be the head and the nations would be the tail, and if they were unfaithful they would be the tail and the nations would be the head; even as it has come to pass in Israel's history. The Mystery brings out something of an entirely different character, something beyond all human conception, what is the fruit of God's love and wisdom; that the Jew and Gentile should be formed into a living organism, functioning for the pleasure and will of God, in which the life and heavenly features of His dear Son should be manifested and continued in the world out of which He was cast by men.

Moreover Jew and Gentle jointly partake of God's promise, set forth in Christ, and made known in the Gospel. This is not a promise of the old economy, for the Gentiles were strangers to the covenants of promise; they were without hope on that line, for the promises belonged to Israel. Paul tells us something of this promise elsewhere. To Timothy he writes of himself as apostle of Jesus Christ by God's will "according to the PROMISE OF LIFE — which is in Christ Jesus;" and to Titus he says "In hope of eternal life, which God, Who cannot lie PROMISED BEFORE THE AGES OF TIME." God's promise in Christ belongs to eternity, it is not at all connected with the promises made to the saints on earth in former days. Eternal life and all connected with it in the glory of God infinitely transcends the best of earth, and to this Jew and Gentile have been jointly called. God has promised us heavenly things in the Gospel, things belonging to the heavenly Christ; the hope He has made ours is laid up for us in heaven; all for Jew and Gentile jointly belong to the new creation, are spiritual, heavenly, and eternal.

Of this precious mystery, Paul was God's chosen minister; it was the gift of God's grace to him to make known to others what had been communicated to him. For such a work the grace of God must form the vessel in consonance with the character of the ministry, and this is accomplished by the working of His power. If God would have Paul present Jesus as Son of God in his preaching, He first of all reveals His Son IN him; so here, there must be an inward spiritual formative divine work in keeping with the truth to be ministered; the vessel is formed, fitted, and filled by God. Paul realises the magnitude of the favour bestowed upon him, and viewing himself in the light of this surpassing grace, he speaks of himself as less than the least of all saints. A true estimation of grace makes us appear small in our own eyes, and enables us to carry out the divine service entrusted according to God's will.

Grace, known in the heart through communion with God, enabled Paul to announce among the Gentiles the Gospel of the unsearchable riches of the Christ. The wonderful nature of this Gospel and the opposition it brought both demanded the constant supply of grace in its preaching. Prophets, sent from God, had told of the coming King; the glories of the Messiah, long promised, had been seen in vision and were spoken of and sung with rapture. These were the searchable riches of the Christ, made known to Israel, the riches and glories adumbrated in David and in Solomon. Great are the glories that shall yet shine forth on earth, as Christ comes out of the ivory palaces, His garments smelling of the sweet spices, and made glad through the praises of His willing people. But the Gospel preached by Paul speaks of greater riches, the unsearchable riches of the Heavenly Christ. What dazzling glory shines in Jesus' face! All the glory and riches belonging to the place He fills as the Head over all things to the church, the Head of the body, the Head of every principality and authority in the vast universe, yea of every office and place He now fills and shall yet fill for the glory of God and pleasure of the Father. There is the boundless wealth belonging to Him as a Divine Person, but here it is rather what has been put into His hand as the Man of God's counsels, the Anointed Man who fills the throne.

Paul was also to enlighten men with the truth of the administration of the mystery. This administration belongs to the working of God, who through the Gospel secures both Jew and Gentile, and by His Spirit brings them together for the fulfilling of His will. From every clime, from different nations, from every class of society, God is drawing men together by His grace; and is forming them into a company suitable for union with Christ, to have part with Him in His glory, and to be for His holy affections. Even now God's mind is being carried out in and through that company, in His own great wisdom; it is the only company on earth which knows God's mind and which can set forth His thoughts. It is not here a question of the church's failure; it is what God is doing in spite of all our failure. But He wants us to know His thoughts; we are to be intelligent in the carrying out of His will. Thinking again of the unique and glorious character of the mystery, Paul tells us that it was hidden throughout the ages in God. Here is the deep, deep secret of God's heart, the fruit of His counsels of love, the crown of all His activities, the Masterpiece of His skill and workmanship, and the completion of His word. He did not tell this to Abraham, His friend, or to Moses to whom He made known His ways; this wonderful, precious secret, nestled in God's own bosom throughout the ages till Christ was set down at His own right hand.

Observe too that the present moment was before God's mind in creating the universe; the considering of which surely magnifies the importance of the day in which our lot is cast. It is in this day, when all around to natural sight is confusion and failure in the church, that God is displaying to the greatest of heavenly beings the resources and treasures of His wisdom. Herein is wisdom that could not be unfolded in the power and glory that outshone in the works of creation, that could not be disclosed in God's ways with the Patriarchs, with Israel, or in the government of the world. The hosts of heaven could sing and shout for joy at the laying of the earth's foundations, and in God's providential dealings with men they have doubtless seen wonderful things; but God had reserved the display of His all varied wisdom for the present time, when a company of men should be gathered out from men for the pleasure of God; in whom God wrought in new creation, forming them into one body in Christ, and continuing in them the precious moral features that were manifested in His Son in this world. That God should form such a wonderful vessel from such material surely displays a wisdom far excelling that hitherto manifested in all God's operations in the universe; that in that vessel God's thoughts should be intelligently manifested by and in those He has wrought in new creation must cause the heavenly hosts to marvel at God's ways. How very feebly have our poor hearts entered into the greatness of God's thoughts regarding what the church is for Himself at this moment of time! Creation is but the platform on which the purpose of the ages, which God purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord, is being wrought out and displayed. Before a single movement occurred to usher in the creation, the great plan was before God in all its completeness; and all that has transpired throughout the preceding ages, has but subserved His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus. The Gospel is not an afterthought with God, but was in His counsels; necessary for the accomplishing of His purpose, that Christ might be the Head of a universe filled with glory. And while awaiting our part with Christ in the coming glory, we know the joy of access to God's presence with holy boldness in true liberty of spirit, as being in Christ and as having the faith of Christ.

In telling the saints of his bonds on their account, Paul desires them not to faint, but rather to boast. Well might they delight to speak of the grace given to Paul to suffer for their sakes, that they might be enriched with such wonderful divine communications. But the natural tendency is to faint in knowing that the one, who had brought to them the testimony of God was incarcerated on its account. Would there not be the tendency to fear and shrink from the afflictions that faithfulness to such a testimony would bring? But Paul prays for them to the Father, yea, in the deepening exercise of his heart and increased earnestness for their blessing, he bows his knees.

The prayer of Ephesians 1 has the calling, the inheritance, and the power of God, as its subject, three objective matters; here the subject matter of the apostle's prayer is largely subjective. One element may be looked upon as objective, "to apprehend — the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;" but the thought of apprehending that vast sphere of divine glory is also subjective. There are five elements clearly subjective:

(1) The strengthening of the inner man;

(2) Christ dwelling in the heart by faith;

(3) Being rooted and grounded in love;

(4) To know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge;

(5) To be filled unto all God's fulness.
Does not the apostle pray for the saints as realising that clear exposition of the truth will not of itself produce the impression that God desires to make upon the hearts and lives of His people? If we are to receive right impressions in the heart through the communication of the truth, the heart must be in a proper state. Still, it is good to know that listening to the truth produces the very exercise that will give the state of heart to receive it.

Paul then prays to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom every family of men and angels in heaven, and every family of men on earth, is named,; each family blessed of the Father in the peculiar relationship in which it stands to the Father for all eternity. Each family will have its own place and portion, for there are many abodes in the Father's House; the church being named "The church of the firstborn ones, whose names are written in heaven." What deep satisfaction to the Father's heart, to have every family in the vast universe in right relations with Him. The sons of God who once shouted for joy, will still be there; but there will be many families of men, all redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus, responding to the Father's love. The Father is the source of all, and all will return to the Father; and He will rest in the securing of all that Christ has brought to Him, when all things are reconciled.

The first part of the request is that the Father, according to the riches of His glory, would give us to be strengthened with might by His Spirit, in the inner man. Every believer, as having been wrought upon by God, and as having received the Holy Spirit, has the spiritual capacity for the reception of truth; but it is evident from this verse that special communications from God require special divine preparation of heart, if these communications are to be impressed on the heart. But there are great divine resources for the production of this spiritual state, the riches of the Father's glory. Does not this imply that it is as occupied with the Father's glory that the Holy Spirit will form us to receive the truth of the Father's counsels? We are prone to be engrossed with our needs, and it may also be with our service for the Lord, things which are necessary to speak to the Lord about; but there should be time for communion with the Father about His things, about His glory and Him who, in that glory, sits upon the Father's throne. Engaged then with the glory of the Father, in the many ways in which it is brought before us, the inner man is strengthened with divine power by the Father's Spirit.

And if engaged with Him in whom the riches of the Father's glory shine, the apostle prays that He, the Christ might dwell in our hearts by faith. If Christ dwells in the seat of our affections, at the centre of the moral being, will He not control all the inward springs, the thoughts, the feelings, the desires, and every impulse and movement? Moreover the word here is "The Christ" which would embrace all connected with Christ in the place He occupies as God's anointed Man. Do all Christ's interests engage our affections? Are we truly concerned about all that belongs to Christ in the place of glory in which the Father has enshrined Him? Things down here would lose their hold upon the heart if the Christ had His true and rightful place there. It was just in this the Ephesians broke down later on; the Christ lost His place in their hearts, for they left their first love. Faith looks to Christ, brings Him into every circumstance, controls every inward movement, and consequently the whole life.

Being rooted and founded in love, is having our springs in the love manifested in the Lord Jesus Christ knowing divine love in present enjoyment, and allowing no present circumstance to move us from the sense that we are loved by the Father and the Son. If our roots are in love, we shall grow in love, and manifest too all the precious features and fruit of love and founded in love, like a building resting upon a solid rock foundation, our souls are firmly established in a love, proved to the utmost, and known to be eternal, infinite, and unchangeable. Is this the state of our souls? Alas! too often the thoughts are concerned with other things, the mind and spirit are not resting in the divine nature, and not drawing upon and being built up in the love of God.

With the inner man divinely prepared in occupation with the Father's glory, with Christ having His home and holding sway in our hearts, and with all our springs in love, we may take our stand, in spirit with all saints, to behold a wonderful vista. What a vast scene opens up before the spirit, depth, length, breadth, and height. Is it not the glorious sphere in which the Mystery is the centre piece? That is surely the realm in which the glory of God will be displayed in the church, in Christ Jesus, for all eternity; where the unsearchable riches of the Christ shall shine forth; where the glory of the Father, in all its effulgence, shall fill the universe where He rests, and in which He shall find His joy and pleasure for evermore. Abraham, from his place, was privileged to view the land of promise, north, south, east, and west; and Moses, from Pisgah, beheld the same; but how surpassingly great our privilege, to stand even now in spirit with Christ, Who dwells in the heart by faith, and to view that glorious scene, in which all that the Father is in His nature and glory are displayed. It is easy to understand now why the inner man needs to be strengthened, for here is something far too wonderful to behold without divine preparation of heart and spirit.

As we explore these vast fields of glory, our hearts rest in the love of Christ. How needful for our hearts to feel the throbbings of that love as we survey the glory. We are to have part in that glory, but with Him who loves us with a love that passes knowledge. His love has been expressed in death, but the object before Him was to bring us into that wonderful glory, that we might share it as His companions. We shall enjoy the love of Christ fully in that day, but God's desire for us is that we might know it now, and know it as a love which passes knowledge.

The final desire of the prayer is that we might be filled to all the fulness of God. All the fulness was pleased to dwell in the Son while on earth, in view of reconciling all things to the Godhead, and all the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily in Him now at God's right hand; as our poor vessels are emptied of self and all connected with the present course of things, they may be filled with the fulness of God, if we are in communion with God about these great things, opened out by the Spirit in this epistle. God's desire for us then is that every one should be so filled with His fulness that our lives should be the reflection, in a moral way, of the glory set before us. As united to Christ by the Spirit, we live in things that are eternal; and we are to live here in the power of what is eternal and heavenly, bringing into every relationship in which we are found the features of Christ, entering intelligently into God's will and purpose. In the measure in which we are filled with God's fulness, these things will characterise us. But it is not only filled with the fulness, but filled unto the fulness, for that fulness can not only fill our poor vessels, but also the vast universe of God in Christ.

Engaged with our own weakness in the light of the illimitable resources of God, we might well be dismayed, but God is our God, and He desires to bless us and fill us with His fulness; indeed He is able to do far exceedingly above all that we ask or think. Where there is any desire on our part to enter into God's thoughts, and to be marked by the features set forth in the prayer, we can speak to God about it, in the sure knowledge that He is able to do above all we ask or think. Within us, in the Holy Spirit who indwells us, is the power to accomplish God's will in all these things; it is simply then a matter of allowing the Holy Spirit to engage us with Christ, the object of the Father's pleasure, and the centre of all His counsels of glory and love; and as we are so engaged the vessel will become emptied of all desires and thoughts after present things, and be filled even unto God's fulness.

We can surely join with the apostle in this note of praise to the Father, ascribing glory to Him. When the fulness of God has accomplished all for His pleasure in the days of the administration of the mystery, it shall display itself in glory in the church for eternity. What has been manifested in grace will be displayed in glory! Unfailing treasures of glory are to be displayed in the eternal age, shining with brilliance and splendour in the church, reflected from Christ in whom it subsists. All the glory belongs to God, and is in His dear Son, His anointed One; but the church is the vessel through which the light of the glory streams. And what a vessel! Formed in the wisdom and power of God, conceived in eternal love, the fruit of His counsels, fashioned in the skill of His own workmanship, meet for the display of His own glory. Contemplating such a consummation to all God's ways, and to all Christ's toil, the apostle says, "Amen;" and every heart that beats true to the Father and the Son would join to repeat, "Amen."

Ephesians 4.

The truth of the mystery having been developed, and the saints prayed for in relation to this great revelation, Paul is now free to continue from the point at which he broke off in the first verse of Ephesians 3. As prisoner for the truth's sake in faithfulness to the Lord, and because of his great love for them, evinced in sufferings through which he had passed and was passing, the apostle was surely competent to freely exhort the saints in line with what he had written to them. Their divine calling, holy and exalted. is to have a practical answer in this world; therefore Paul desires that the saints should walk becomingly, bringing the light and dignity of the divine call into the minutest detail of life, walking in the steps of Jesus. Our course down here is to be worthy of sonship, worthy of being united to Christ as members of His body, worthy of being the dwelling place of God; and the true heavenly dignity that is ours is to be manifested in low thoughts of self, the absence of all self assertiveness, in endurance through manifold trials, and in bearing with one another in love.

Only by expressing the features of Jesus can we go on together as Christians in this world, and this no doubt accounts for their coming in before the exhortation to use diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit. Viewed essentially, as subsisting in the Spirit, this unity cannot be broken, but looked at practically, where human responsibility exists, it has been broken to pieces. Nevertheless it is still possible for saints, by diligence and by the manifestation of the traits of Jesus, to endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace. This unity cannot be kept where man's mind and will control; only where there is liberty for the Spirit to make known the mind and will of God, and where there is the habitual endeavour to carry out the expressed thoughts of God. Such a condition cannot be enforced, it is the fruit of communion, hence the word "in the uniting bond of peace." How very far removed this is from the common desire, even among true believers, of peace at any price. If divine principles are sacrificed for peace, this is not the peace of the unity of the Spirit, which can only be kept where God's word regulates everything.

From the unity of the Spirit the apostle passes to the great circles of unity, existing in relation to the Persons of the Godhead, where believers have their part. The first circle is in relation to the Holy Spirit, and may be looked upon as the true Christian circle, where is the one body which has been formed by the One Spirit. Only true believers in Christ have part here; we are members of the body by the new creative work of God, a body which derives its nutrition and direction from its heavenly Head. There is but ONE body, a truth which is to govern all who would endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit. Again there is but ONE Spirit, who is to guide and to lead all who have part in this living circle of blessing and privilege. In God's dealings with men providentially, the Holy Spirit is spoken of as "The Seven Spirits," but in Christianity He is the One Spirit, the power uniting all that belongs to God in the new creation circle into which He has called and brought us. The hope of our calling is to enter into the glory with Christ, and be with Him before the Father, in the joy of His love, for evermore. This hope belongs to every member of Christ's body; one destiny awaits us all; we have but ONE hope of our calling.

In the second circle all relates to the ONE Lord, our Lord Jesus Christ, and is evidently the circle of Christian profession. The ONE faith is the doctrine of Christianity, given to us in the Holy Scriptures, which Jude tells us was "once delivered to the saints." No man could be looked upon as a Christian (in any sense) who refused to acknowledge Jesus as Lord, or who did not accept the Scriptures as the setting forth of the doctrine of Christianity. It may be that some say "Lord, Lord" in a mere formal recognition of Jesus, without divinely given faith in the soul; and nominally assent to the body of Christian teaching without its having power in their lives; but this could not invalidate the reality to the true believer that there is ONE Lord and ONE faith, truths which delight his heart and regulate his walk and ways. Entrance to the circle of Christian profession is by baptism, and in Christianity there is but ONE baptism. It might be that Jews are baptised in the Name of Jesus Christ; that some were baptised in the Name of the Lord Jesus, and others baptised in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; but it is the same baptism, the truth of which is opened out to us in different Scriptures.

The third circle is the universal circle, where all things are in relation to God the Father. God the Father is the source of all the things found in the universe; He is supreme, and His impress is found upon all. Who can look into the heavens by night, or examine through the microscope the minute creatures that come from God's hand without discerning His creatorial glory. Even if man has fallen, and has degraded himself and brought God's glory with dishonour into the dust, he still bears the image of God, no matter how badly he may have disfigured it. As Christians, if we would keep the unity of the Spirit, there must be the recognition of God in the universe He has brought into being. No one could claim to keep the unity of the Spirit if he accepted human theories regarding the creation. If God permeates the vast universe, He dwells in His saints. It is one thing that it can be said of men generally regarding God, "In Him we live and move and exist," and quite another that God dwells in His saints.

Grace is given by Christ, according to His wisdom and sovereign pleasure, to all His saints; each receiving what Christ desires to be expressed in testimony in this world. Every bit of grace given sets forth the triumph of Christ over the enemy, for before communicating it He must first lead captivity captive. There are also special gifts from Christ, enumerated in verse 11; they are given from the place of His exaltation and supremacy. While on earth the Lord appointed twelve apostles, but when He went on high their apostleship was reckoned to them in a new way, and there were others who received this same gift (Acts 14:14; Gal. 1:19). It is not that the apostleship of the twelve is gone forever; their names are found in the heavenly city as "The twelve apostles of the Lamb;" but the foundation of the building of Eph. 2:20 not only contains all the apostles of the glorified Christ, but also the prophets given from heaven. Before imparting these gifts the Lord Jesus went down into the lower parts of the earth, into the dark domain of death. Coming forth in triumph He has ascended, having overcome every hostile principality and authority; leading captive every foe; annulling the power of the enemy; ascending above all the heavens to fill all things. The descent of the Lord here is not from heaven, as in Phil. 2:6-7; it is from the earth, where, as Man He had been for the glory of God. Have we not here the presentation of a Man great enough to enter in His own might into the domain of death, and great enough in His glorious triumph to pass through the heavens? How blessed to see the greatness of Man, the Man of God's right hand, whom He has made strong for Himself. Like Samson, He goes down to the citadel of the enemy, where the gates are closed upon Him, and in triumph He tears away the door, bar and all, and carries them in triumph to the top of the hill. This glorious Man is going to fill all things! In passing from the lower parts of the earth to His place above all heavens, He has passed through every sphere in the universe in the might of His glory and in the display of His wonderful victory; none in all these spheres could challenge His power or His title, and when His present session is completed, He will be manifested to fill all things.

When Christ fills all things He will not be alone, for in Ephesians 1 we have seen the church to be the fulness of Him who fills all in all. Therefore, from His present place in glory He is even now working to secure, fit, and educate the members of His body for their place with Him in the universe of glory that He is about to fill. To this end He has given gifts to men, some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some shepherds and teachers. As we have seen from the close of Ephesians 2 the foundation work has been laid in the work and writings of the apostles and prophets; the members of Christ's body are called by the Gospel preached by the evangelists; the saints are cared for and taught by the pastors and teachers (a joint gift) that they might learn the mind of God and walk for His pleasure. God desires to have His saints grow to maturity; He would have them entering intelligently into His thoughts for them, and the gifts are given with this in view. Moreover there is a definitely ordained ministry from the ascended Christ to maintain what is of God in this world. The Risen and Ascended Christ cares for His church, His eye is ever upon it; He needs not that men should ordain those whom men educate to care for His assembly. He will see to it that there are gifts for the edification of His body, so that His saints being fed and nourished, might function in the place divinely given to them.

The work of the ministry will continue, nor will the body cease to be edified, until we all come to the unity of the faith and the full knowledge of the Son of God. If the apostles and prophets have personally gone home, they remain with us in their writings; there are still evangelists, pastors and teachers. Although no spiritual person would presume in this day of brokenness and ruin to call himself an evangelist, pastor or teacher, the gift, where possessed, is readily recognised. Yet in spite of all the ruin, Christ will continue the work of the ministry, until all saints hold in their souls the doctrine as it is set forth in the Scriptures, and until all know the blessed Son of God in the height of His glory, in the abundance of His heavenly resources, and in the deep affections of His heart. "The faith" is really the great sphere of divine revelation, and "The Son of God" is the One who fills that sphere. Only as we learn the truth from the word of God can we arrive at the unity of the faith; and only as we are truly acquainted with the Son of God in living communion can we arrive practically at the unity of the knowledge of the Son of God.

But the gifts are also given to bring the saints to the full-grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of the Christ. In Ephesians 1 the church is seen, according to Gods counsels, as the fulness of the Christ who fills all in all; here the gifts are given to bring the saints practically to what the church is in the counsels of God. Christ's rich and wise provision for our spiritual development and education is made that we might not remain immature and unskilled in His word, that we might not be affected by all the varied doctrines of religious leaders, whose diversity and contradiction manifest that they have no part in the unity of the faith. Craftily manipulating the Scriptures to give colour to their teachings, such men use every device, conceived by the cunning of man, to build up their evil systems, from which the true Christ is excluded. The divine safeguard against all this is to hold the truth in love. It is not enough to be mentally acquainted with the truth: the truth must be held in the affections and manifested in the life, as only then can we grow up to Christ, the Head, in whom every feature of the truth subsists. All our resources are in Christ, who can direct us aright, keeping us from all the evil teachings that abound, feeding the soul, sustaining and satisfying the heart; being withal the object upon which our eyes can rest with perfect delight, so that beholding in Him the truth in all its beauty and rich perfection we take character from Himself to answer to Him in His traits of heavenly grace. Thus it is that the church comes to the full-grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of the Christ.

Every member of the body stands related to Christ the Head, and also in relation to every other member of the body upon earth; and all the supply for the body comes from the Head, being communicated to the different members by the joints of supply. This is not a matter of formal ministry, for the gifts are not in the body as such. Gift is largely connected with the house: in the body all are members. But each member of the body has its place and function, that each saint might contribute, according to his measure, to the building up of the body. Administration has its place in the Christian economy, so has gift, as the earlier verses show; but we must not forget that there is a living organism here on earth, the production of God, maintained by the Head in heaven, yet self-edified by the effectual working of every part. Love, in which the truth is held for the pleasure of God, is that in which the body is built up for the well-being of the saints.

Participating in such grace and privilege, the practical life of the saints should be marked by different features from those of the Gentiles around, among whom they once had their communion. The reception of divine grace demands that our walk should be for the glory of God. The ungodly Gentiles are not affected by the revelation of God; their steps are directed by their own vain thoughts, and unenlightened in their souls they have not the divine life that God has given to the Christian. Ignorant and hard hearted, and throwing off all the tender feelings properly belonging to men, such have given themselves up to the base passions of their fallen and unregenerate nature, which can never be satisfied. A glance at Romans 1:21-32 will show how man got into this debased condition. Men gave God up in three distinct ways; consequently God gave man up body, soul, and mind. How different from all this are God's things, the things we have learned in the Christian revelation, as having heard Christ's word and voice in the Gospel, as knowing the truth as it is in Jesus, learned through the wonderful provision made for our instruction by the ascended Son of God.

There are three parts of this precious truth stated:

(1) Our having put off the old man;

(2) Being renewed in the spirit of our mind;

(3) Our having put on the new man.
The old man is the embodiment of every proclivity and moral feature of Adam fallen, developed in the whole human race. In the cross this man was fully exposed and received his judgment from the hand of God, he was crucified with Christ (Rom. 6:6); in our confession of the Lord Jesus we have accepted the judgment of God on our old man, having virtually said, "I have finished with that man for ever." Baptism is really the professed putting off the old man. Then there is to be the practical recognition of this in the putting off the habits belonging to the old man whom we have disowned. Christianity gives a complete change of the spirit of the mind, which being renewed, enables us to look at things in an entirely new way. Self and the world no longer colour the outlook; our thoughts, desires, feelings, and purpose are quite new, being controlled by Christ and His interests. Like the thought of the old man, the thought of the new is abstract. If the old man is the embodiment of all that is evil, the new man is the embodiment of every moral feature pleasurable to God. Every feature of righteousness, love, and holiness, the beautiful traits manifested down here in Jesus, belongs to the new man created by God. This new man is not Christ Personally; he is Christ characteristically.

From Ephesians 4:25 to Ephesians 5:2 we learn how righteousness is to mark the saints; from Ephesians 5:3 to 21 it is rather holiness that is prominent. Indeed we may look upon the remaining part of the epistle as the expression of the features of the new man, created according to God in righteousness and holiness of truth.

(1) The public testimony is more in view in Ephesians 4:25 - 5:21;

(2) The home circle is contemplated in Ephesians 5:22 - 6:4;

(3) Ephesians 6:5-9 would be for us today the business circle, but may be for some part of the home circle;

(4) The sphere of conflict in Ephesians 6:10-20.

Our relations with each other are much before the apostle; "every man with his neighbour" (v. 25); "to one another kind" (v. 32); "speaking to yourselves" (Eph. 5:19); "submitting yourselves to one another" (Eph. 5:21). Having put off the old man and put on the new man, we are to finish with everything savouring of falsehood, and to be wholly occupied in speaking what bears the character of truth; and this because we are indissolubly connected in divine ties in the body of Christ. No one would wilfully damage a member of his physical body; surely the members of Christ's body are dearer to us and of far more value. Communicating truth to each other will bring edification, for the truth builds up.

Righteous anger has a place and time, but we must watch lest the devil gets in. Oftentimes we begin in the Spirit and end in the flesh; the divine safeguard for us is to keep short accounts, for prolonged anger is almost certain to lose its righteous character and make room for the devil. The erstwhile stealer is not to return to his wrong ways, but with toil and honest work provide for his own needs and also for the needs of others. What a contrast to taking from others this is; it is the fulfilment of the righteous requirement of the law, loving his neighbour as himself. Our mouths are to express the features of the new man; pure and edifying words are to evince a good and graceful conversation, beneficial to those who listen.

God's Holy Spirit in sealing us has claimed us for the day when all shall be claimed in redemption, so that we must not allow anything unholy in our thoughts, words, or ways that would grieve Him. Our feelings are dulled by acquaintance with sin, but how infinitely sensitive the Holy Spirit is to anything which savours of impurity, falsehood, or unrighteousness. Every trait of the flesh, whether in the inward feelings of the heart or as expressed by the tongue or other members of our bodies, is to be put from us kindness, compassion, and forgiveness the rather marking us. God has shown His forgiveness to us in Christ, who died for our sins upon the cross; we are to come out like God in our dealings with one another.

Ephesians 5.

Our duty and privilege as God's beloved children is to imitate Him, to manifest His character, being marked by His compassions. How wonderful is His love to us, and how great the kindness and affection told out in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The deep love of the Lord Jesus caused Him to die for us, a death in which God has been perfectly glorified, and in which the Lord offered Himself for the pleasure of the heart of God. Not only did He give all He possessed, like the man who bought the field and the merchant who sought the pearls (Matthew 13)

He gave HIMSELF, and more He could not give. Christ was the true Burnt Offering, who gave Himself up to death to secure the glory of God, and the acceptance of those whom God would bless. All the inwards of the spotless victim were laid upon the altar, for in that death the perfection of the inward thoughts and feelings of Christ were brought out for the delight of God. There were no selfish motives with Christ; He went into death that the world might know that He loved the Father, but also in obedience to the Father's commandment. What sorrows, what sufferings were Christ's, but He considered not Himself; His constant desire was the Father's will. Do we not have the answer to the Peace Offering in Christ being a sacrifice to God? The Burnt Offering was wholly for God, but the offerer and the priest had their part in the Peace Offering. How great is the privilege of contemplating in communion with the Father and the Son the perfections of Jesus made known in His death. While feeding upon the Christ who died for us we can think of the Father's portion, the fat and the inwards, the food of the offering, all the inward excellencies and perfections of Christ ascending up as a sweet savour for Him. Christ's love for us, told out in this wonderful death, is to affect us in our walk down here; He is our pattern, and we are to be for God's glory and pleasure as manifesting Christ's spirit.

How vile and unsavoury are the lusts of the flesh, they are the very antithesis of the holiness, purity, and sweet odour of what we have just considered. Such things should not therefore be named among those who are set apart for God; our conversation too should be pure, and even what is called harmless jesting is not convenient, thanksgiving being more suitable for Christians. Those who walk in uncleanness cannot have part in the Kingdom of Christ and of God, for all there is pure and holy, like God Himself; and spite of man protesting his religion and philosophy, the wrath of God will assuredly fall on all who have disobeyed the commandments of God. Why then should we have fellowship with those upon whom God's judgment is about to fall? Like them, darkness once marked us, it was the principle of our moral being, the controlling force of our lives, so that not a single thought or action of ours was in harmony with the will of God. Now we are light in the Lord, having derived this nature from God and as having come under the authority of the Lord Jesus, where God and His will are known. We are to walk then as children of light, transparent in all our steps, nothing covered up in our movements, manifesting the fruit of light in all goodness, righteousness, and truth, proving in the path of His will what pleases Him. The works of darkness bear no fruit, for God, so that we are not to participate in them any more than with those who do them, but rather are we to expose such works by the manifestation of what is divine. Things are seen in their true character when the knowledge of God is brought to bear upon them. The light that reveals God exposes everything inconsistent with His nature and character.

Although every true believer is alive spiritually, some are so influenced by present things as to be little different, in their practical life, from the men of the world. Such are not dead, but through earthly mindedness, worldliness, or lethargy are asleep among the dead. They are called upon to awake, and to arise from the company in which they are found, that the invigorating rays of the heavenly Christ might shine upon them, to energise them afresh, and to bring them renewed joy and blessing. Our every step is to be taken with care, directed by divine wisdom in a course the worldling has never known or trod, and every opportunity for the manifestation of good, where all is evil, is to be seized with earnestness. In such a world there is no occasion for the Christian to be foolish; his business is to learn the will of the Lord.

Drunkenness does not belong to the new man, but to the old man that we put off. Our ecstasy is from the Spirit of God, not from wine, which excites the natural man. Moreover, those filled with the Spirit are marked by joy, thanksgiving and submission to one another. How different the expression of the joy the Spirit produces and the expression of the joys of nature produced with wine. The joy of the Spirit comes out in singing what delights the heart of God. Psalms are evidently experimental compositions, in which we joy before God, because of His goodness to us in the circumstances through which He has brought us in His mercy. Hymns are paeans of praise in which we address God and tell Him and the Lord Jesus Christ of the thoughts and feelings of our hearts regarding the wonderful love made known to us, in which we respond to the grace so richly manifested in Jesus. Spiritual songs express our thoughts of the greatness, glory, and perfections of Christ; and tell out what we have felt of God's ways and counsels, as having learned from God, as taught by the Spirit. These precious compositions become the vehicle of expression from the heart, enabling us to speak to ourselves and to sing to the Lord in our joy and gladness. Then we are to give thanks at all times for all things to God the Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Only one filled with the Spirit could do this. When the Lord Jesus was rejected by Israel, and had to upbraid the cities wherein most of His mighty works were done, it is recorded of Him, "AT THAT TIME, Jesus answered and said, I thank Thee, O Father." In the moment of His greatest sorrow from Israel He answers with thanksgiving to the Father. The third mark of being filled with the Spirit is submission. Submission to evil is not in the apostle's mind for a moment, for evil has no place in the assembly of God. It is a matter of giving way in things which do not affect the conscience, the subjugation of one's private judgment to that of others in the interests of the things of Christ. No spiritual brother would submit to evil in the things of God, there is no question of submitting or compromising where the glory of God is concerned; we could not submit to evil in the fear of Christ. There are of course times when diversity of judgment arises as to how certain things should be dealt with in the assembly, which are serious enough, and where a spiritual brother may differ from his brethren; in such a case the same attitude should be adopted if the submission can be in the fear of Christ. It may be hard to submit, especially if one is confident of the correctness of his judgment, but one filled with the Spirit can leave his judgment with the Lord, to be vindicated in His good time.

From Ephesians 5:22 to Ephesians 6:4 we have the Family Circle, in which the features of the new man are to be manifested. Husband and wife is the closest and most intimate of natural relationships and therefore comes first. The normal Christian household is contemplated, where all acknowledge Jesus as Lord. Because the husband holds his headship and consequent authority in relation to the Lord, the wife is to submit herself unto her own husband as unto the Lord. God's wisdom has set the husband as head of the wife even as Christ is the Head of the church; so that even as the church is dependent upon Christ for guidance and supplies, the wife has been placed in dependence upon her husband for her resources and direction. It is not uncommon to find a wife with greater discernment, judgment, and mental ability than her husband, but this in no wise relieves her from the place of subjection, divinely given, even as the church has been subjected to Christ. How blessed to see the relationship of the church to Christ introduced to give force to the divine instructions for human relationships. Paul does not take us back to Eden to support his exhortations by what was then established, but rather lifts the subject into the realm of God's counsels, that the light of heaven might illumine and give colour to the common things of this life. And if he does go back to Eden, it is to show that Adam and Eve prefigured Christ and the church. Creation's light does display the beauty of the relationship of husband and wife, established by God, but how greatly the relationship is enhanced by the light of God's counsels.

If the wife is to be subject in everything to the husband as the church to Christ, Christ's love for the church is to be the character of the husband's affection for his wife; a love which took Him into death, a love which passeth knowledge. The husband is to love his wife with a love that would give himself, for Christ also loved the church and gave HIMSELF for it. Observe that when the love of Christ is presented "For me" (Gal. 2:20), "For us" (Eph. 5:2), and here "For it," the measure of it is He "Gave Himself." Whether it is individual, collective, or corporate in its presentation, the love of Christ is infinite, unfathomable, unchangeable, and eternal. But the church has been secured by Christ's death that He might prepare her for companionship with Him in His glory, and that she might be worthy of His affections. Therefore has the church been set apart by Christ; and He purifies it by the washing of water by the word. Our blessed Lord cannot suffer defilement on that which is dear to Him, therefore with unwearied service He removes from the church every trace of contact with the defiled scene through which it passes. Only the word of God can free the heart, mind, and spirit from the things around us; so that by the ministry of the word the Lord Jesus keeps our thoughts engaged with Himself and with the things that are above, where all is pure and holy.

All this is in view of the nuptial day when Christ shall present the assembly to Himself, glorious. What joy that day of presentation will bring to the heart of Christ and to the heart of His Bride! Like Him, she is glorious, with the glory in which God arrays her; nor is there a mark of impurity or imperfection upon her, not a trace of age or decay upon the beauteous companion of the glorious Christ of God. His moral features too are hers, for she is holy and blameless; Christ will have His wife even as the Father will have His sons, before Him in love, holy and blameless. This portion then shows what Christ has done for the church, what He is doing with it now, and what He is about to do with it in the coming day.

What an incentive all this is for the husband to love his wife; but there are further instructions, he is to love his wife as his own body, for the man who loves his wife loves himself. No man in his right mind ill-treats his body, but rather feeds and cares for it. Christ likewise nourishes the church with the richest supply of food from heaven, and cherishes it with His own perfect love, for we are united to Him, being members of His body, having come from Him. Eve was derived from Adam before she was united to him; and because of this a man is to leave father and mother and to be joined to his wife, and the two become one flesh. With the light of this chapter how wonderfully beautiful is God's presentation of the relationship of Adam and Eve; and what wisdom is displayed in secreting so early in the history of man His thoughts of Christ and the church. Adam and Eve though first upon the scene, set forth God's original thoughts, conceived in relation to His counsels before the world began. Though exulting in these great revelations we are not to forget that the husband is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to reverentially fear her husband. Here lies the true secret of matrimonial happiness, and it is because these Scriptural exhortations are not heeded that so much sorrow and distress are found in the homes of many.

Ephesians 6.

Following the divine instructions for husband and wife, and the precious revelation of the truth of the relation of the church to Christ, comes the exhortations to children and fathers. Children are to obey their parents in the Lord because it is the right thing to do; parental authority having been ordained of God from the beginning and commanded in the law. Obedience in the Lord supposes that no command from the parents is contrary to the Lord's will, but is rather the expression of His will for the child. We live in a day when honour to parents is not the rule in the world, and such a state emphasises the privilege belonging to the children of Christian households of adorning the doctrine of God our Saviour in showing the honour becoming to parents. Under the law, a promise of well-being and long life accompanied this commandment; how much greater then will be the divine blessing, under grace, for those who obey. Fathers are to be watchful lest they provoke their children to anger. Much harm has been done to children by overbearing fathers enforcing their own wills and not the Lord's, and by rash and harsh judgments. Children require careful and prayerful handling, which casts the parents upon the Lord, that His discipline and admonition, with its wisdom, grace, and kindness might be ministered to them.

Under the conditions prevailing, when the epistle was written, the injunctions to bondmen and masters would belong, in the main, to the home circle. Because of the changed social conditions today these instructions largely belong to the business circle. As in the previous relationships considered the subject vessel is first addressed, and obedience commanded. The wisdom of such a command must be evident to any one with the knowledge of the truth, or with experience in the world. Through disobedience man fell from his position and state of innocency and blessing in Eden; his blessedness in the Garden depended upon simple obedience to God's word, which indeed is the first principle of blessing for the creature at all times.

Under law obedience was demanded, but man proved himself incapable of keeping the law; under grace the Gospel is presented for the obedience of faith, which God provides; and the commandments of God for the Christian are the delight of the nature derived from God. Human relationships cannot possibly subsist in harmony if the subject vessel is not obedient, and the Christian servant is to obey with fear and trembling lest in anything by manifesting the spirit of disobedience he brings dishonour upon the Name of the Lord. Simplicity of heart in obedient service bespeaks undivided purpose of heart in serving under the eye of Christ. The man of the world works better when his master's eye is upon him and upon service readily seen, but the Christian, doing the will of God serves as well in the master's absence and in things unseen. Such service is from the soul, wrought ungrudgingly with good will as to the Lord, his heavenly Master, and not as unto men. Although the earthly master may not reward the good and diligent service rendered, the Lord will richly recompense the most menial task performed under His all-seeing eye. What an incentive this is to labour heartily in the ordinary duties of life! Here we read, "Whatever good each shall do, this he shall receive of the Lord." In Colossians the truth is complementary. "He that does a wrong shall receive the wrong he has done." It may be said that these injunctions were for slaves, and while this is true, the spirit of what is enjoined should surely characterise every believing servant.

Masters are to realise that the heavenly Master of their servants is their Master too, and their conduct should be ordered accordingly. If the Lord is going to repay good with good, they ought to do the same, for it is surely the privilege of the saint of God to follow in the steps of his Lord and Master. Nor should threats be used, for these are usually made in temper, and if not carried out authority is weakened. If threats are carried out to maintain authority, it is often to the hurt of both master and servant, so that it is better to maintain discipline by wiser methods than with threats. God has no respect for persons, so that whatever our position, whether master or servant, we are to keep this ever in mind. The man who heeds these exhortations will be the best master or the best servant.

We have been considering the features of the new man manifested in the public testimony (where the saint's relations with his neighbour are prominent), in the home circle, and in the business circle; now we are about to consider how the features of the new man are connected with the conflict into which we have been brought. If such is the order in which the truth is presented by the Holy Spirit, does it not suggest that we must be right in our relations in each of these circles before we can be found in the conflict according to God's will? A man who is not right with his brethren, his wife, his master or servants, because of his faults, cannot have the armour properly fitted. The new man is created in righteousness and holiness of truth, and righteousness and truth are parts of the divine armour. If practical righteousness is not manifested in the different circles in which God has placed us, and our conduct is not according to truth, the enemy will readily overcome us. Is it not in these circles that the armour of God is fitted, and we prepare ourselves for spiritual conflict?

"Finally brethren" indicates that what we have considered leads to this climax; we are to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Of ourselves we are no match for the enemy, but the Lord has met and overcome him, and if we are strong in Him our very weakness will but make way for the only power that can defeat him. The might of His strength has been displayed in His going down into the domain of the enemy, in overcoming him, and in leading captivity captive. We have to meet a foe whose power has been broken, but who seeks to overcome us with his wiles. In the strength of Him who defeated the enemy, and with the whole armour of God on, we need not fear the foe. When Joshua met the man who was going to bring down Jericho, he learned that He was the Captain of the Lord's host; and so long as Joshua and Israel relied on Him they defeated the enemy; relying on themselves they fell an easy prey to a few men from Ai, and to the wiles of the Gibeonites.

Our struggle is not with flesh and blood so that natural weapons will avail nothing; our foes are principalities and authorities, the universal lords of darkness, the spiritual power of wickedness in the heavenly places. Here are unveiled the great forces of evil that influence this world in its hateful opposition to all that is of God; powerful spiritual beings, wielding mighty diabolical influence over the minds and hearts of men. These have immense spheres of spiritual authority which have become alienated from God in their fall, authority used to oppose God and to thwart His designs for the blessing of men. From their heavenly spheres of rule they bring their darkening influence to bear on men whose hearts are filled with hatred against God, who become their willing instruments for opposition to God's testimony. Such is the moral darkness in which man is found, his mind blinded in wilful ignorance of God, the prey to wicked spirits, and pursuing a course that leads to eternal ruin. In the conflict this dreadful array of evil is against us: we meet the wicked spirits as we seek to enter into God's presence for communion with Him regarding the rich spiritual blessings He has given us in Christ in the heavenly places; we meet their human agents down here in seeking to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. If we compared the opposition of the forces of evil with our weakness we might well be dismayed, but in the presence of the Lord and the power of His might the great giants disappear.

Against such foes we must have the panoply of God if we are to withstand in the evil day in which our lot is cast, a day that will last till the conflict is over. First we must withstand the assault of the enemy, then there are the things to accomplish in the conflict for God, and having done all we are to stand in possession of what we have secured in the conflict. Like Shammah, one of David's mighty men, who stood in the midst of a plot of lentils and delivered it out of the enemy's hand. Shammah withstood the enemy, secured the plot, part of God's inheritance given to His people, and stood there in possession. There is no opportunity in this warfare for putting off our armour; our foes are wily and vigilant. If we are definitely set for the Lord's interests, the enemy will soon make his presence felt, and if we overcome him in the Lord's strength, we should watch against his seeking to regain from us the ground he has been forced to relinquish, or perhaps something else that we have held for God. Is it not through lack of watchfulness that we so often and so sadly fail? Flushed with success, there is the danger of endeavouring to stand in our own strength in the ground taken from the foe in the strength of the Lord, and thus expose ourselves to one for whom we are no match in ourselves. Standing is therefore the great thing for us, but we can only stand if we are properly equipped by God.

Now we have the parts of the panoply of God, in which we are to stand in the conflict. First of all the loins are to be girt about with truth; truth in the inward parts will regulate our whole course, and enable us to carry out God's will. Every inward spring of the moral being contributes to express what we really are; and unless all our desires, thoughts, and feelings, are affected by truth, yea protected by truth, the enemy will get a point for attack, and we cannot stand for God if we have wrong thoughts of God, or wrong feelings about Him, or if selfish desires and wrong motives control the life. Truth in the inward parts comes through communion with God, by feeding upon the word, which in communion the Spirit forms in us, giving that moral state which protects against the attacks of the enemy. The heart is the centre of the moral being, and it becomes us to be guarded against anything that would lower the moral tone of the life, which so largely depends on the condition of the seat of the affections.

Righteousness is to be our breastplate, protecting the heart as regards the conscience, for we must be right in our relations with God and with men to maintain a good conscience, if we would stand in the presence of the foe. Paul exercised himself to have a good conscience without offence in everything towards God and men, which surely means he always sought to have the breast protected with the breastplate of righteousness. A man with a bad conscience is of no use for meeting the enemy, for the enemy can readily engage such with his own failure and easily overthrow one whose heart condemns him. Will a man with a bad conscience seek to possess the portion in the heavenly places that God has given him in Christ, or endeavour to maintain the height of the calling wherewith God has called us? How very important it is therefore to allow nothing in the life that will affect the conscience, and so allow the enemy an unguarded spot for his fiery darts.

Of wisdom, it was written of old, "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." This is the path for the Christian: peace is to mark all his steps in the shoes brought to him by the Gospel. The Gospel not only brings good news of peace made by the blood of the cross, and of peace with God for those who are justified by faith, but exhorts us, if possible, to follow peace with all men. What a contrast this is to the ways of men naturally, of whom it is recorded, "The way of peace they have not known." How very often the word peace appears in the epistles. One of the marks of the kingdom of God is peace we have been called to peace in one body; and we are to seek peace and ensue it. Will a quarrelsome Christian, engaged in fleshly contentions, be able to meet the subtle foe? His fleshly contentions are no match for the enemy, and the state of heart of such a disposition leaves room for the inflamed darts of the wicked one. In Christianity nothing is to be done in the spirit of strife, but in the spirit of Him who was meek and lowly, whose every step was peace.

The shield of faith brings God into every circumstance of life, and this defeats the purpose of Satan, who seeks to bring distrust of God into the heart as he did with Adam and Eve in the beginning. Could we possibly participate successfully in the conflict connected with God's will for our blessing without absolute confidence in God? Unflinching confidence in the might of Christ's strength and in the goodness of God will quench every inflamed dart the enemy can produce. Faith relies on Christ Who has already met and defeated the foe; bring Him in, and every wicked suggestion of the enemy is dispelled. When the spies brought to Israel the report of the land, of which they said, "Surely it floweth with milk and honey," they said also, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we." They had not taken the shield of faith they forgot God; they were not strong in the Lord and the power of His might. But Joshua and Caleb were men of another sort; they had the shield of faith, and quenched the inflamed darts of the wicket one, saying, "If Jehovah delight in us, He will bring us into this land, and give it us, a land that flows with milk and honey."

Protected by the helmet of salvation, the thoughts are engaged with what God has accomplished for us and will yet accomplish. The mind has a very important place in divine things, and has to be guarded against the enemy. In the quiet confidence and consciousness that the issue of the conflict is with God we can lift up the head in the presence of all evil, knowing that God has already given us part with Christ; He has blessed us in Christ, and soon will bring us home to heaven to be with Him and like Him for ever. Yet our helmet here is not the hope of salvation; it is the enjoyment of a salvation presently known, for even that which is in prospect is ours in spirit now. Ephesians presents God's counsels, and our blessings according to those counsels, as established in Christ already seated in the heavenly places. So that in chapter 2 where it twice says, "Ye are saved by grace," it observes between these two mentions, He "has raised us up together, and made us sit down together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus." What a salvation to engage the mind; our place is even now in Christ in the heavenly places. Thus engaged in mind, our thoughts are protected from the evil one, and we can go forward to occupy the divine ground for the glory of God and our own spiritual enrichment.

God's word is the sword of the Spirit, a weapon against which Satan has no defence. See how the Lord Jesus used this mighty sword when Satan confronted Him in the wilderness! Thrice did He say, "It is written;" and the wicked one left Him for a season. To use the sword of the Spirit, we must know the Scriptures; but there must also be the spiritual condition, through living communion with God to be able to use the sword aright. It is the Spirit's sword, therefore we must be under the Spirit's control to use it effectively. Satan sought to use the Scriptures against the Lord; he was not wielding the sword of the Spirit. We must therefore not assume that an answer from the Scriptures is always the sword of the Spirit: the word of God is living; the application of the living word is the sword of the Spirit.

Lastly there is prayer, which is a very important part of God's panoply for us. Lack of confidence and dependence upon God will surely expose us to the watchful foe. In the wilderness the Lord met Satan with the word, the sword of the Spirit; in Gethsemane, "being in conflict He prayed more earnestly." We are to use the word as the sword of the Spirit, and we are to pray with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit; the conflict is spiritual. Praying at all times is to be cultivated, for we are to watch unto this very thing with all perseverance; and we are to persevere both as regards going to prayer and while engaged in prayer, for the enemy seeks to keep us from the presence of God even when we are bowing the knee. Prayers are not to be narrow, but to embrace all saints; the whole sphere of God's operations on earth will be remembered by those intelligent regarding the scope of God's testimony. Paul, because of the special ministry committed to him, had a claim on the prayers of the saints; and his work among the saints at Ephesus emphasised this claim: but how gracious of him to desire their prayers, that they might partake with him of the privileges belonging to the sphere of Christ's interests. The apostle especially requested their prayers that he might be given utterance to announce with boldness what lay upon his heart, the mystery of the Gospel. This was Paul's unique ministry; he spoke of "My Gospel," for in his preaching there were revelations ministered only by him, preaching which presented the glory of God and the glory of Christ. Deeply embedded in the Gospel preached by Paul is this great mystery, (which was also his peculiar ministry) which disclosed the eternal secret of the heart of God in announcing rich, heavenly, and eternal blessings for the church in closest union with Christ. On account of preaching this glorious truth, Paul, Christ's ambassador in this world, was bound with a chain. How very solemn for the world to treat thus the representative of the heavenly Christ, who held out to them nothing but divine blessing. Spite of his circumstances, the apostle wishes to be bold that he might speak becomingly of this wonderful theme.

Knowing the concern of the saints for him, and desiring that they might be encouraged, Paul graciously sent Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, to tell them all about him and his concerns. He then seeks for them peace with love and faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. On leaving His own, the Lord left them His peace; Paul would have the saints to enjoy this peace. All that we have is the sovereign gift of God, and comes to us through the Lord Jesus Christ. The final word invokes grace on all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in incorruption; the grace that will enable us to enter into the wonderful revelations given in this epistle, and to answer to the exhortations for the expression of the heavenly light in every circumstance down here. Wm. C. Reid.