Super ad Ephesios
Commentary on Ephesians
74:4 Liquefacta est terra et omnes qui habitant in ea: ego confirmavi columnas ejus.
75:3 The earth is melted, and all that dwell therein: I have strengthened its pillars.
1. Sicut dicit sapiens: non minor est virtus quam quaerere parta tueri, ideo non immerito commendatur Apostolus, quia etsi Ephesios in fide non fundavit, tamen fundatos in fide confirmavit, ut ipse loquens de ecclesia Ephesiorum, vere possit dicere: ego confirmavi columnas eius; ego videlicet, Israelita natione, Christianus religione, apostolus dignitate.
1. Wisely has it been remarked that: no less energy is spent in retaining possessions than in acquiring them. Although St. Paul did not initiate the Ephesians into the faith, the Apostle is justly praised for having strengthened them in it. Of the church at Ephesus he rightfully can claim: I have strengthened its pillars—I who am an Israelite in nationality, a Christian in religion, an apostle in dignity.
Israelita dico natione; nam et ego Israelita sum, ex semine Abrahae de tribu Beniamin II Cor. XI, 22. Item Christianus religione. Gal. II, 19 s.: ego enim per legem mortuus sum legi, ut Deo vivam: Christo confixus sum cruci: vivo ergo iam non ego, vivit vero in me Christus: quod autem nunc vivo in carne, in fide vivo filii Dei. Item apostolus dignitate. I Cor. XV, 9: ego sum minimus apostolorum. De his tribus II Cor. XI, 22: Israelitae sunt, et ego; semen Abrahae sunt, et ego; ministri Christi sunt, et ego; ut minus sapiens dico, plus ego.
A Jew by birth, for I am an Israelite sprung from Abraham’s seed in the tribe of Benjamin (2 Cor 11:22). A Christian in religion, for I, through the law, am dead to the law, that I may live to God; with Christ I am nailed to the cross. And I live, now not I; but Christ lives in me. And the life that I live now in the flesh, I live in the faith of the Son of God (Gal 2:19–20). An apostle in dignity since I am the least of the apostles (1 Cor 15:9). Concerning these three it is written: they are Israelites: so am I. They are the seed of Abraham: so am I. They are the ministers of Christ, so am I. I speak as one less wise: I am more (2 Cor 11:22–23).
Talis debet esse praedicator sapientiae salutaris, scilicet Israelita quo ad contemplationem Dei, Christianus quo ad religionem fidei, apostolus quo ad auctoritatem officii.
Everyone who proclaims saving wisdom, like Paul, must be an Israelite in his contemplation of God, a Christian in his religious faith, an apostle in his function’s authority.
Ego, ergo, Iudaeus per originem, quaerens Deum per fidem, apostolus Dei per imitationem, confirmavi, et cetera. Confirmavi ne a fide vacillarent, sicut artifex confirmat aedificium, ne cadat. Unde dictum est Petro Lc. XXII, v. 32: et tu aliquando conversus confirma fratres tuos, quod fecit Paulus. Unde ei competit illud Iob IV, 4: vacillantes confirmaverunt sermones tui. Confirmavit item ne pseudo timerent, sicut episcopus confirmat puerum ad robur contra pusillanimitatem, unde dictum est de David in Ps. LXXXVIII, 21: inveni David servum meum, oleo sancto meo unxi eum; manus enim mea auxiliabitur ei, et brachium meum confortabit eum, nihil proficiet inimicus in eo, et cetera. Ps. XXXII, 6: verbo Domini, per Paulum scripto, caeli, id est Ephesii, firmati sunt, etc., scilicet ne praemium gloriae amitterent, sicut praelatus vel princeps confirmat donum, ne postea auferatur. Ps. XL, 13: me autem propter innocentiam suscepisti, et confirmasti me in conspectu tuo in aeternum. Has confirmationes petebat Ps. LXVII, 29 dicens: confirma hoc, Deus, quod operatus es in nobis, et cetera. Has promittebat Apostolus II Thess. ult.: fidelis autem Deus qui confirmabit vos, et custodiet a malo.
I, therefore, am a Jew by birth, seeking God through faith, and am an apostle of God through imitation. I have strengthened them lest they falter in their faith, as the workman will buttress a building against a fall. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers (Luke 22:32), was spoken to Peter and accomplished by Paul. And it may be applied to him that your words have upheld the stumbler (Job 4:4). The bishop confirms a boy to fortify him against becoming spiritless; similarly, Paul has strengthened the Ephesians not to fear unreasonably. In this connection, it is written of David: I have found David my servant: with my holy oil I have anointed him. For my hand shall help him: and my arm shall strengthen him (Ps 89:21–22). By the word of the Lord, written through Paul, the heavens, applying to the Ephesians, were established (Ps 33:6) lest they lose their prize of glory, just as a prelate or prince ratifies a gift to protect it against theft. Because of my perfection you have supported me, and set me before you forever (Ps 41:13). This strengthening power is asked for where it is written: send, my God, your strength; strengthen, God, what you have built for us (Ps 68:29). The Apostle promised these divine aids: but the Lord is faithful, who will strengthen and keep you from evil (2 Thess 3:3).
Ego, ergo, confirmavi columnas eius, scilicet fideles ecclesiae Ephesiorum.
I have strengthened its pillars, namely, the faithful of the church at Ephesus.
Fideles enim ecclesiae dicuntur columnae, quia debent esse recti, erecti, et fortes. Recti per fidem, erecti per spem, fortes per caritatem.
They are referred to as pillars since they must be straightforward, upright, and strong—straightforward through faith, upright through hope, and strong because of charity.
Recti dico per fidem, fides enim ostendit rectam viam veniendi ad patriam, unde significatur per columnam nubis, de qua Ex. c. XIII, 21: Dominus autem praecedebat eos, ad ostendendam viam per diem in columna nubis. Fides enim ad modum nubis habet obscuritatem, quia cum aenigmate; dissolutionem, quia evacuatur; humiditatem, quia excitat ad devotionem.
I say straightforward through faith because faith reveals the straight and true way to arrive at the fatherland; it is symbolized by the pillar of cloud: and the Lord went before them to show the way by day in a pillar of a cloud (Exod 13:21). Faith, similar to clouds, is opaque with its mysteries, dissolves when it gives way to vision, and moistens by arousing devotion.
Erecti per spem, spes enim dirigit ad superna, unde significatur per columnam fumi, de qua dicitur Iud. XX, 40: viderunt quasi columnam fumi de civitate ascendentem. Spes enim ad modum fumi ex igne, id est ex caritate, provenit, in altum ascendit, in fine deficit, id est in gloria.
The faithful are upright through hope, for hope points heavenwards; it is symbolized by the column of smoke: the signal rose from the city as a pillar of smoke (Judg 20:40). Hope, like smoke from fire, springs from charity, ascends upward, and finally vanishes in glory.
Fortes per caritatem, fortis enim est ut mors dilectio, ut dicitur Cant. VIII, 6; unde significatur per columnam ignis qui omnia consumit, de quo Sap. XVIII, 3: ignis ardentem columnam ducem habuerunt ignotae viae. Sicut enim ignis illuminat diaphana, examinat metalla, exterminat cremabilia, sic caritas illuminat opera, examinat intentionem, et omnia vitia exterminat.
The faithful must be strong through charity, for love is strong as death (Song 8:6); hence, it is symbolized by a pillar of fire capable of consuming everything: therefore, they received a burning pillar of fire for a guide on the unknown journey (Wis 18:3). As fire makes the surroundings visible, puts metals to the test, and destroys what can burn, so charity enlightens human actions, examines one’s motives, and exterminates all vices.
Iam apparet quae sit causa huius epistolae efficiens, quia Paulus, quod notatur ibi ego. Finalis, quia confirmatio, quod notatur ibi confirmavi. Materialis, quia Ephesii, quod notatur ibi columnas eius. Formalis patet in divisione epistolae, et modo agendi.
The efficient cause of this letter is, of course, St. Paul; this cause was ascribed to the I of the psalm (Ps 75:3). The final cause is to fortify, designated by the have strengthened. The material cause is the Ephesians, as noted under its pillars. The formal cause will be understood in the structural divisions of the letter and its method of presentation.
2. Huic epistolae praemittit glossator prologum sive argumentum, ubi principaliter duo facit: primo describit eos, secundo, rationem et modum scribendi subdit, ibi hos collaudat Apostolus, et cetera. Ephesinos vero quibus scribit, describit a tribus. Primo, a regione, quia Ephesii sunt Asiani ab Asia Minore; secundo, a religione, quia hi acceperunt verbum veritatis Christianae; tertio a stabilitate, quia perstiterunt in fide. Primum respicit patriam; secundum, gratiam; tertium, perseverantiam.
2. A glossator prefaces this letter with a prologue or summary expressing two main ideas: first, he describes the recipients; second, he gives the reason and circumstances of writing, at the Apostle praises them. The Ephesians, to whom he wrote, are described in three ways: first, by their locality, the Ephesians are Asians, coming from Asia Minor; second, by their religion, they have accepted the word of Christian truth; third is their constancy, they have remained steadfast in the faith. The first has reference to their home country, the second to grace, and the third to perseverance.
Hos collaudat Apostolus, et cetera. Hic subdit etiam rationem et modum scribendi, ubi implicat quatuor. Primo, Scripturae rationem; secundo actorem, qui est Apostolus scribens; tertio, locum a quo scribit, quia a Roma de carcere; quarto, nuntium per quem scribit, quia per Tychicum diaconum; littera satis patet.
At the Apostle praises them he adds the reason and circumstance for writing, which involves four things: first, the reason for Scripture; second, the author, who is the Apostle; third, the place from which he writes, which is from a prison in Rome; fourth, the messenger through whom he writes, who is Tychicus, a deacon.
The Power of the Incarnation
1:1 Paulus apostolus Jesu Christi per voluntatem Dei, omnibus sanctis qui sunt Ephesi, et fidelibus in Christo Jesu. [n. 4]
1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, to all the saints who are at Ephesus and to the faithful in Christ Jesus. [n. 4]
1:2 Gratia vobis, et pax a Deo Patre nostro, et Domino Jesu Christo.
1:2 Grace be to you and peace, from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
1:3 Benedictus Deus et Pater Domini nostri Jesu Christi, qui benedixit nos in omni benedictione spirituali in caelestibus in Christo, [n. 5]
1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places, in Christ: [n. 5]
1:4 sicut elegit nos in ipso ante mundi constitutionem, ut essemus sancti et immaculati in conspectu ejus in caritate. [n. 8]
1:4 Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and unspotted in his sight in charity. [n. 8]
1:5 Qui praedestinavit nos in adoptionem filiorum per Jesum Christum in ipsum: secundum propositum voluntatis suae, [n. 9]
1:5 He destined us unto the adoption of children through Jesus Christ unto himself: according to the purpose of his will: [n. 9]
3. Hanc epistolam scribit Apostolus ad Ephesios. Ephesii sunt Asiani ab Asia Minore, quae est pars Graeciae. Hi non fuerunt per Apostolum Paulum in fide fundati, sed confirmati. Iam enim antequam veniret ad eos, erant conversi, ut haberi potest Act. XIX, v. 1: factum est cum Apollo esset Corinthi, et cetera. Post conversionem vero suam et Apostoli confirmationem, in fide perstiterunt, nec pseudo receperunt. Non ergo reprehensione, sed consolatione digni erant. Ideo Paulus eis non increpatoriam, sed consolatoriam scribit epistolam. Scribit autem eis ab urbe Roma per Tychicum diaconum.
3. The Apostle writes this letter to the Ephesians who were Asians, coming from Asia Minor which is part of Greece. They were not initiated into the faith by the Apostle Paul but he did strengthen them in it. Even before he had met them, they had been converted, as can be gathered: it happened that, while Apollo was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, where he found certain disciples (Acts 19:1). Once they were converted and fortified by the Apostle, they were steadfast in the faith, not succumbing to false doctrine. Thus, they were entitled to encouragement rather than reprimand; and Paul’s letter has a tone of reassurance and not of rebuke. He wrote them from the city of Rome through the deacon, Tychicus.
Intentio vero eius est, eos in bonis habitis confirmare, et ad altiora provocare.
The Apostle’s intention is to strengthen them in good habits, and spur them on to greater perfection.
Modus autem agendi patet in divisione epistolae.
The method of presentation can be seen in the division of the letter:
Primo ergo ponit salutationem, in qua suum affectum ad eos demonstrat;
first, the greeting, in which he shows his affection for them;
secundo narrationem, in qua eos in bonis habitis confirmat, ibi benedictus Deus, etc., usque ad IV cap.;
second, the narrative, in which he strengthens them in good habits, from blessed be God until chapter four;
tertio, exhortationem, in qua eos ad ulteriora bona provocat, a cap. IV usque ad locum illum cap. VI de caetero, fratres, confortamini in Domino, etc.;
third, the exhortation, in which he urges them on to greater perfection, from chapter four until chapter six at be strong in the Lord;
quarto epistolae conclusionem, in qua eos ad certamen spirituale confortat a loco isto de caetero, usque in finem.
fourth, the conclusion of the letter, in which he fortifies them for the spiritual combat, from be strong until the end.
4. In salutatione primo ponitur persona salutans; secundo, personae salutatae, ibi sanctis omnibus, etc.; tertio forma salutationis, ibi gratia vobis, et cetera.
4. In the salutation, the person greeting comes first, second those greeted, at to all the saints, and third the formula of greeting, at grace be to you.
In prima, primo nominat personam, ibi Paulus; secundo personae auctoritatem, ibi apostolus Christi; tertio auctoritatis datorem, ibi per voluntatem Dei.
In reference to the first, he gives the name of the person, Paul; second, that person’s authority as an apostle of Christ; lastly, the giver of this authority, by the will of God.
Dicit ergo: Paulus apostolus. Paulus nomen est humilitatis, apostolus vero nomen dignitatis, quia qui se humiliat, exaltabitur, Lc. XIV, 11 et XVIII, 14. Apostolus, inquam, Iesu, non Satanae, sicut pseudo. V. 11: non est ergo magnum si ministri eius, scilicet Satanae, transfigurentur velut ministri iustitiae, et cetera. Apostolus, inquam, et hoc non meis meritis, sed per voluntatem Dei. Econtra est in multis. Os. VIII, 4: ipsi regnaverunt, et non ex me, et cetera. Sanctis omnibus, scilicet qui sunt Ephesi, et fidelibus, supple scribit. Vel ego Paulus scribo sanctis exercitio virtutum quo ad mores; fidelibus, rectitudine cognitionis quo ad fidem. Vel sanctis, id est maioribus et perfectis; fidelibus, id est minoribus et imperfectis. Et fidelibus, inquam, in Christo, non in factis suis.
He says Paul which is a name of humility, whereas the title of apostle is one of dignity; the reason is that he that humbles himself shall be exalted (Luke 14:11; 18:14). An apostle, I mean, of Jesus and not one of the pseudo-apostles who are of Satan: it is no great thing if his— that is, Satan’s—ministers be transformed as the ministers of justice (2 Cor 11:15). I am an apostle, he says, not by my own merits but by the will of God. In many instances it is just the opposite—they have reigned, but not by me (Hos 8:4). He writes to all the saints who are at Ephesus and to the faithful. Either this could mean, I, Paul, write about morals to those who are holy through the exercise of virtues; and about faith to those who believe with true knowledge. Or, it may mean, to the saints who are the elders and perfect, and to the faithful who are less experienced and imperfect. They are said to believe in Christ Jesus and not in their own deeds.
Gratia vobis et pax, et cetera. Hic subditur salutationis forma, in qua implicantur tria, donum quodlibet gratificantia: doni sufficientia, ibi gratia vobis et pax, datoris potentia, ibi a Deo patre, mediatoris excellentia, ibi et Domino Iesu Christo. Tunc enim gratum est donum quando sufficiens est quod datur; quando a potente datur, ut quando a rege, vel principe datur; quando per solemnem nuntium datur, ut per filium.
At grace be to you and peace, he adds the formula of greeting which indicates three qualities which make any gift pleasing: the sufficiency of the gift, in grace be to you and peace; the power of the giver, from God our Father; and the excellence of the mediator, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. For a gift is pleasing when what is given is sufficient and is offered by someone in power, as a king or prince, and is presented by a solemn messenger, for example, by his son.