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Ephesians 1:19-23

Biblical Text
"… and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that can be invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way." (Ephesians 1:19-23, TNIV)

Commentary from the Early Church Fathers(1)
The Immeasurable Greatness of His Power. Theodoret: But “the immeasurable greatness of his power” ironically now comes to mind as he thinks of the dishonor of the cross and considers how much was achieved through it.

This Redemption Is Already Accomplished, Even If Still in Reference to the Future. Hilary of Poitiers: The language of the apostle, acknowledging the power of God, refers to future things as though they have already happened. For the things which are to be performed already subsist in their fullness in Christ, in whom is all fullness. Whatever is future is so by God’s provident ordering, not as if it might exist on its own

Human Nature Honored. Theodoret: It is clear that he says all this of Christ in his humanity. This is what inspires wonder. For it would hardly be remarkable to say that God sits by God if fellowship in power is a corollary of their identity of nature as Father and Son. But that the human nature assumed from us should partake of the same honor as the one who assumed him, so that no difference in worship is apparent, so that the invisible Godhead is worshiped through the visible human nature—this exceeds all wonder! The holy apostle is overwhelmed. He first sings of the exceeding greatness of his power. Then he speaks of the working of his mighty strength. Then he looks for whatever he can say that might point to the extraordinary nature of his exaltation. Epistle to the Ephesians 1.20.

My Comments
For the last two weeks I've been cranking away on my final papers, which I wrapped up tonight. I've been working on Exodus 4:10-17 where Moses complains that he is not a "man of words" because he is "heavy" of mouth and tongue. In retrospect, to look at what God accomplished through Moses' speaking ability, in spite of him not being a "man of words" is astounding.

Theodoret gets to that point with his comments on v. 19-20. As he notes, the irony is that through death Christ overcome death and the powers of this world. Hence, what is considered "weak" in the world shamed what is considered "strong". But, the truth of the matter is that it doesn't matter what is "weak" and what is "strong" when it is in the service of the God revealed in Jesus Christ. The will of the Triune God in the world, even if for a short time it is rejected and worked against will ultimately prevail over all forces that oppose it.

In the case of Moses, his "weak" voice ultimately shamed Pharaoh because Pharaoh was working against the will of God. It wouldn't have mattered if Moses was the best speaker in the world or the worst, he would have prevailed because he was on God's side in the matter.

Notes(2)

Theodoret of Cyr (c. 393–466). Bishop of Cyr (Cyrrhus), he was an opponent of Cyril who commented extensively on Old Testament texts as a lucid exponent of Antiochene exegesis.

Hilary of Poitiers (c. 315–367). Bishop of Poitiers and called the “Athanasius of the West” because of his defense (against the Arians) of the common nature of Father and Son.

  1. All comments taken from: M. J. Edwards, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture NT 8. (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 122.
  2. Biographical information is from: ACCS Introduction and Bibliographic Information, Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture. (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2005).
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