Ephesians 3:11
According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) The eternal purpose.—Properly, the purpose of the ages; but the sense clearly is, of the purpose of God (see Ephesians 1:11), conceived before the ages of His dispensation, and fulfilled through them. Hence the rendering of our version is substantially correct.

Which he purposed.—It should be, which He wrought, or made, for the word is quite distinct from the substantive “purpose,” and is in itself ambiguous, capable of meaning either ordained or worked out. Either sense will suit the passage; but the latter perhaps better, since the idea is throughout of the completion and manifestation of the mystery of God’s purpose in the Lord Jesus Christ.

3:8-12 Those whom God advances to honourable employments, he makes low in their own eyes; and where God gives grace to be humble, there he gives all other needful grace. How highly he speaks of Jesus Christ; the unsearchable riches of Christ! Though many are not enriched with these riches; yet how great a favour to have them preached among us, and to have an offer of them! And if we are not enriched with them it is our own fault. The first creation, when God made all things out of nothing, and the new creation, whereby sinners are made new creatures by converting grace, are of God by Jesus Christ. His riches are as unsearchable and as sure as ever, yet while angels adore the wisdom of God in the redemption of his church, the ignorance of self-wise and carnal men deems the whole to be foolishness.According to the eternal purpose - see the note, Ephesians 1:4. Literally, "the purpose of ages," or of eternity. Locke, Chandler, and Whitby render this, "according to that disposition or arrangement of the ages which he made in Jesus Christ, or through him." The object of such an interpretation seems to be to avoid the doctrine that God had a purpose or plan in the salvation of people, and hence such expositors suppose it refers to the arrangement of the "ages" of the world by which the plan of redemption was introduced. On the word rendered here as "purpose" - προθέσις prothesis - see the notes at Romans 8:28; compare Ephesians 1:11. It is rendered "showbread" - the bread of setting before," Matthew 12:4; Mark 2:26; Luke 6:4; Hebrews 9:2; "purpose," Acts 11:23; Acts 27:13; Romans 8:28; Romans 9:11; Ephesians 1:11; Ephesians 3:11; 2 Timothy 1:9; 2 Timothy 3:10. It does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. In most of these cases it refers to the "purpose or intention" of God; in not a single case does it mean "arrangement or disposition" in any sense like that of making an arrangement of "ages" or periods of the world; and the interpretation proposed by Whitby, Locke, Clarke, and others, is wholly at variance with the settled use of the word.

The word rendered "eternal" - αἰώνων aiōnōn - may mean "ages;" but it also most usually means eternity; see Ephesians 3:9. Here it may mean "the purpose of ages;" i. e., the purpose formed in past ages; but the word is most commonly used in the New Testament in the sense of "ever, and forever;" compare the following places, where it is so rendered in our common version, and beyond a doubt correctly; Matthew 6:13; Matthew 21:19; Mark 3:29; Mark 11:14; Luke 1:33, Luke 1:55; John 4:14; John 6:51, John 6:58; John 8:35; John 14:16; Romans 1:25; Romans 9:5; Romans 11:36; Romans 16:27; 2 Corinthians 9:9; 2 Corinthians 11:31; Galatians 1:5. The fair meaning of the passage here is, that God had formed a plan which was "eternal" in reference to the salvation of people; that that plan had reference to the Lord Jesus; and that it was now executed by the gospel. It is impossible to get away from the idea that God has a "plan." It is too often affirmed in the Scriptures, and is too consonant with out' reason to be disputed. It is as "undesirable" as it is impossible to escape from that idea. Who could respect or honor an intelligent being that had no plan, no purpose, no intention, and that did all things by caprice and hap-hazard? If God has any plan, it must he eternal. He has no new schemes; he has no intentions which he did not always have.

Which he purposed - Literally, "which he made."

In Christ Jesus - With reference to him; or which were to be executed through him. The eternal plan had respect to him, and was to be executed by his coming and work.

11. which he purposed—Greek, "made." Ellicott translates, "wrought." According to the eternal purpose: all that God doeth in the work of our redemption, whereby he sets forth his manifold wisdom, he doeth according to what he had from eternity purposed to do, and therein likewise shows his wisdom, to which it belongs to order and determine things before the doing of them, and then to do them as they have been ordered.

Which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord; not only as the eternal Wisdom of the Father, but as designed in God’s decree to be the Head of the church, and he by whom God would in time execute his eternal purpose. According to the eternal purpose,.... The whole of salvation, in which is displayed the great wisdom of God, is according to a purpose of his; the scheme of it is fixed in the council of peace; the thing itself is effected in pursuance of it; Christ, the Redeemer, was set forth in it; his incarnation, the time of his coming into the world, his sufferings and death, with all their circumstances, were decreed by God; and the persons for whom Christ became incarnate, suffered, and died, were appointed unto salvation by him; and the application of it to them is according to his purpose; the time when, the place where, and the means whereby souls are converted, are all settled in the decrees of God; the Gospel itself, the preaching of it by such and such persons, its use to make men see the mysteries of grace, and the fellowship of them, and to make known these things to the angels of heaven, are all according to a divine purpose: and this purpose is eternal, or was in the mind of God from all eternity; for no new will can arise in him; no purpose, resolution, or decree can be made by him in time, which was not in his breast from everlasting; and his purpose concerning the salvation of men must be eternal, since a council of peace was held, a covenant of peace was made, a promise of life was given, persons were fixed upon to be saved, a Saviour was appointed for them, and grace, and the blessings of it were put into his hands before the world began.

Which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord; the constitution of it was in him; God was in Christ contriving the scheme of salvation; eye was upon him, his thoughts centred in him, in him are all his promises, and blessings of grace designed and provided for his people; and the execution of this purpose is by him; though some refer this clause to the church in Ephesians 3:10 which he has made in Christ, or by Christ, has built upon him, and united to him; and others, to the manifold wisdom of God displayed in Christ, who is the wisdom of God, and in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid.

According to the {d} eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

(d) Which was before all things.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ephesians 3:11. Κατὰ πρόθεσιν τῶν αἰώνων] belongs neither to πολυποίκιλος (Holzhausen) nor to σοφία (Koppe, Baumgarten-Crusius), nor does it relate to Ephesians 3:9 (Michaelis), nor yet to all that precedes from Ephesians 3:3 or Ephesians 3:5 (Flatt, comp. Zanchius, Morus), but to ἵνα γνωρισθῇ κ.τ.λ., giving information important in its bearing on this ἵνα: in accordance with the purpose of the world-periods, i.e. in conformity with the purpose which God had during the world-periods (from the commencement of the ages up to the execution of the purpose); for already πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου it was formed, Ephesians 1:3, but from the beginning of the world-ages it was hidden in God, Ephesians 3:9. On the genitive, comp. Judges 1:6; Psalm 145:13; Winer, p. 169 [E. T. 234]. Others, incorrectly, take it as: the purpose concerning the different periods of the world, according to which, namely, God at first chose no people, then chose the Jews, and lastly called Jews and Gentiles to the Messianic kingdom (Schoettgen, comp. Chrysostom, Theophylact, Estius, Cornelius a Lapide, Baumgarten, Semler); for it is only the one purpose, accomplished in Christ, that is spoken of. See what follows. According to Baur, κατὰ πρόθεσιν τῶν αἰών. means: according to what God ideally proposed to Himself in the aeons (that is, the subjects of the divine ideas, constituting as such the essence of God). According to the Gnostic view, this returns, after it has been accomplished in Christ, as the realized idea back into itself.

ἣν ἐποίησεν ἐν Χ. .] applies not to σοφία (Jerome, Luther, Moldenhauer), but to πρόθεσιν, and means: which He has fulfilled in Christ Jesus. So Castalio, Vatablus, Grotius, Zachariae, Koppe, Rosenmüller, Holzhausen, Matthies, Olshausen, de Wette, Bleek, and others. Comp. τὸ θέλημα ποιεῖν (Ephesians 2:3; Matthew 21:31; John 6:38), τὴν γνώμην ποιεῖν (Acts 17:17). Others: which He has formed in Christ Jesus. So Beza, Calvin, Estius, Michaelis, Morus, et al., including Flatt, Rückert, Meier, Harless, Baumgarten-Crusius; also Hofmann, Schriftbew. I. p. 230. Linguistically admissible. Comp. Mark 3:6; Mark 15:1; Isaiah 29:15; Herod. i. 127. But the context tells in favour of the first-named interpretation, since what follows is the explanation assigning the ground of the purpose not as formed, but as carried into effect; hence not merely ἐν Χριστῷ is said, but ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ (comp. Ephesians 1:5), since not the forming of that purpose, but its accomplishment, took place in the historically manifested Messiah, Jesus—in Him, in His personal self-sacrifice is the realization of that divine purpose contained.Ephesians 3:11. κατὰ πρόθεσιν τῶν αἰώνων: according to the eternal purpose. Literally, “according to the purpose of the ages” or “world-periods”; but represented with substantial accuracy by the “eternal” of the AV and the other old English Versions with exception of Wicl. and the Rhemish. The term πρόθεσις must be taken here as elsewhere in the proper sense of purpose, not in that of foreknowledge (Chrys.); and the clause is to be connected neither with the σοφία nor with the πολυποίκιλος in particular, but with the γνωρισθῇ. The disclosure of the manifold wisdom of God to the angelic world, contemplated in the commission given by God’s grace to Paul, was of further-reaching moment than that. It was contemplated in God’s eternal purpose and took place in accordance with that. The gen. αἰώνων may be a gen. of time (cf. Judges 1:6); Alf. compares our phrase “an opinion of years”; or it may rather be one of the many forms of the gen. of possession—“the purpose pertaining to the ages,” formed before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3), long hidden in the Divine Mind (Ephesians 3:9), but existent and in God’s view from the beginning till now (cf. 2 Timothy 1:9).—ἣν ἐποίησεν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τῷ Κυρίῳ ἡμῶν: which he wrought in Christ Jesus our Lord. The subject of the ἐποίησεν is the πρόθεσις, not the σοφία (Jer., Luth., etc.). The verb is rendered “purposed” by the RV; as it is also taken by many to mean formed, constituted (Calv., Harl., Hofm., De Wette, Alf., Abb., etc.). This use of the verb is somewhat like that in Mark 3:6; Mark 15:1 (συμβούλιον ποιεῖν), etc., and gives a good sense. On the other hand, the use of ποιεῖν in such connections as θέλημα ποιεῖν (Matthew 21:31; John 6:38; Ephesians 2:3), γνώμην ποιεῖν (Revelation 17:17), etc., seems to be sufficient justification for giving it the sense of fulfilling, carrying out; and the designation Christ Jesus (not Christ simply), pointing as it does to the historical Person, suggests that what is in view now is the realisation of the purpose rather than its formation. On the whole, therefore, it is perhaps best to render it “which He wrought, or carried into effect, in Him whom we preach as Christ Jesus our Lord” (Mey., Ell., etc.). The TR (with [291]1–3[292]3[293] [294] [295], etc.) gives ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ; the best critics (LTTrWHRV), on the authority of [296] [297] [298] [299] [300] 17, etc., insert τῷ before Χριστῷ. The designation ὁ Χριστὸς Ἰησοῦς ὁ Κύριος ἡμῶν is singular; cf., however, the τὸν Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν τὸν Κύριον of Colossians 2:6.

[291] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[292] Codex Ephraemi (sæc. v.), the Paris palimpsest, edited by Tischendorf in 1843.

[293] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[294] Codex Mosquensis (sæc. ix.), edited by Matthæi in 1782.

[295] Codex Angelicus (sæc. ix.), at Rome, collated by Tischendorf and others.

[296] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[297] Autograph of the original scribe of א.

[298] Autograph of the original scribe of א.

[299] Codex Alexandrinus (sæc. v.), at the British Museum, published in photographic facsimile by Sir E. M. Thompson (1879).

[300] Codex Ephraemi (sæc. v.), the Paris palimpsest, edited by Tischendorf in 1843.11. according to the eternal purpose] Lit., and better, according to the purpose of the ages. I.e. the Church, as watched by the angels, presents to them the final result (final in kind) of the great Plan of Divine developments by which the glory of God was to be displayed in His dealings with Sin. The redeemed Church corresponds to this Plan; it is (in kind, in essence,) the realization of the Divine Idea. No other and better thing in that kind is to succeed it. The past “ages,” angelic, paradisaic, patriarchal, Mosaic, prophetic, have led up to the Universal Church, in its spiritual reality, as their goal.

in Christ Jesus our Lord] Lit., in the Christ, Jesus our Lord.—The “Purpose” was “purposed” (lit. “made”) “in Him,” inasmuch as both Idea and Working were altogether bound up with Him. “In Christ” God was to “reconcile the world”; “in Christ” the saints were to “have redemption in His blood”; “in Him” to be “rooted and built up”; “complete in Him”; “abiding in Him”; “walking in Him”; “dying in Him” (Revelation 14:13); “made alive in Him” (1 Corinthians 15:22). Thus “in the Christ,” the Eternal and Anointed Son and Word, the Idea stood forth formed; and in that Christ, as “Jesus our Lord,” incarnate, sacrificed, glorified, the Idea is carried into realization.Ephesians 3:11. Πρόθεσιν τῶν αἰώνων, the purpose of the ages [eternal purpose]) concerning the ages, and before the ages, 2 Timothy 1:9.—ἣν, which) This refers to πρόθεσιν, purpose.—ἡμῶν, our, of us) viz. believers, who are the Church.Verse 11. - According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord. The apostle is ever anxious that we should connect these operations, of God with the profundity, deliberation, and awfulness of an eternal decree, and that we should thus contrast them in our minds with many even of the most important works of man which are often determined, on his part, by a passing event or other trivial cause. The verb in this clause is ἐποίησε, which he made, and it has been debated whether it denotes the original formation of the purpose, or the execution of it under Christ. With A.V. and R.V., we prefer the former. The object of the apostle is to indicate that the purpose existed from eternity; but, besides, the meaning of "fulfilled" or "executed" can hardly be sustained by ἐποίησε. The closing formula, "in Christ Jesus," is perfectly applicable to the eternal formation of the purpose; it is the constantly returning indication of the element in which the whole scheme of grace had its beginning, its progress, and its end. Eternal purpose (πρόθεσιν τῶν αἰώνων)

Lit., the purpose of the ages.

He wrought (ἐποίησεν)

Carried into effect. See on fulfilling, Ephesians 2:3.

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