Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Ephesians 1:21

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Far above all principality - The difficulty in this verse does not arise from the words themselves, the meaning of each being easily understood, but from the sense in which the apostle uses them. Some think he has reference here to the different orders among good and evil angels; he is superior to all the former, and rules all the latter. Others think he refers to earthly governments; and as αρχη, principality, the first word, signifies the most sovereign and extensive kind of dominion; and κυριοτης, lordship, the last word, signifies the lowest degree of authority; hence we are to understand that to our Lord, in his human nature, are subjected the highest, the intermediate, and the lowest orders of beings in the universe. - Chandler. Others imagine that the apostle has in view, by whatsoever is named in this world, all the dignitaries of the Jewish Church; and by what is named in the world to come, all the dignities that should be found in the Christian Church.

Schoettgen supposes that the "apostle's αρχη (for αρχοντες, the abstract for the concrete) means the same as the נשיאים Nesiim among the Jews, whose chief business it was to clear and decide all contentions which arose concerning traditions and legal controversies.

"That εξουσια, power, is the same as צורבא tsorba, he who possesses authority to propound, expound, persuade, convince, and refute.

"That δυναμις, might, answers to רבנות rabbanoth, signifying all the class of rabbins, whose office it was to expound the law, and teach the people generally.

"And that κυριοτης, dominion, answers to מר mar, which signifies a person above the lower orders of men. And he observes that Jesus Christ, after his resurrection, called fishermen, publicans, and men from the lowest orders of the people, to the work of the ministry; and made them instruments of confounding and overturning all the Jewish rulers, rabbins, and doctors. And that in the world which is to come - the successive ages of Christianity, he should ever be exalted above all those powers and authorities which Antichrist might bring into the Christian Church; such as popes, cardinals, wicked archbishops, bishops, deans, and canons; and all those who among the schoolmen were termed seraphic doctors, angelic doctors, most illuminated, most perfect, and irrefragable doctors. And although Wiclif, Huss, Luther, Melancthon, and the rest of the reformers, were men of little or no note when compared with the rulers of the popish Church, so eminently did the power of Christ work in and by them, that the pope and all his adjutants were every where confounded, and their power and authority annihilated in several entire regions."

It is certain that the apostle means that all created power, glory, and influence, are under Christ; and hence it is added:

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Far above all principality - The general sense in this verse is, that the Lord Jesus was exalted to the highest conceivable dignity and honor; compare Philemon 2:9; Colossians 2:10. In this beautiful and most important passage, the apostle labors for words to convey the greatness of his conceptions, and uses those which denote the highest conceivable dignity and glory. The “main” idea is, that God had manifested great “power” in thus exalting the Lord Jesus, and that similar power was exhibited in raising up the sinner from the death of sin to the life and honor of believing. The work of religion throughout was a work of power; a work of exalting and honoring “the dead,” whether dead in sin or in the grave; and Christians ought to know the extent and glory of the power thus put forth in their salvation. The word rendered “far above” - ὑπεράνω huperanō- is a compound word, meaning “high above,” or greatly exalted. He was not merely “above” the ranks of the heavenly beings, as the head; he was not one of their own rank, placed by office a little above them, but he was infinitely exalted over them, as of different rank and dignity. How could this be if he were a mere man; or if he were an angel? The word rendered “principality” - ἀρχή archē- means properly, “the beginning;” and then the first, the first place, power, dominion, pre-eminence, rulers. magistrates, etc. It may refer here to any rank and power, whether among people or angels, and the sense is, that Christ is exalted above all.

And power - It is not easy to distinguish between the exact meaning of the words which the apostle here uses. The general idea is, that Christ is elevated above all ranks of creatures, however exalted. and by whatever name they may be known. As in this he refers to the “world that is to come,” as well as this world, it is clear that there is a reference here to the ranks of the angels, and probably he means to allude to the prevailing opinion among the Jews, that the angels are of different orders. Some of the Jewish rabbies reckon four, others ten orders of angels, and they presume to give them names according to their different ranks and power. But all this is evidently the result of mere fancy. The Scriptures hint in several places at a difference of rank among the angels, but the sacred writers do not go into detail. It may be added that there is no improbability in such a subordination, but it is rather to be presumed to be true. The creatures of God are not made alike; and difference of degree and rank, as far as our observation extends everywhere prevails. On this verse compare the notes at Romans 8:38.

Dominion - Greek “Lordship.”

And every name that is named - Every creature of every rank.

Not only in this world - Not only above all kings, and princes, and rulers of every grade and rank on earth.

But also in that which is to come - This refers undoubtedly to heaven. The meaning is, that he is Supreme over all.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
God has laid up spiritual blessings for us in his Son the Lord Jesus; but requires us to draw them out and fetch them in by prayer. Even the best Christians need to be prayed for: and while we hear of the welfare of Christian friends, we should pray for them. Even true believers greatly want heavenly wisdom. Are not the best of us unwilling to come under God's yoke, though there is no other way to find rest for the soul? Do we not for a little pleasure often part with our peace? And if we dispute less, and prayed more with and for each other, we should daily see more and more what is the hope of our calling, and the riches of the Divine glory in this inheritance. It is desirable to feel the mighty power of Divine grace, beginning and carrying on the work of faith in our souls. But it is difficult to bring a soul to believe fully in Christ, and to venture its all, and the hope of eternal life, upon his righteousness. Nothing less than Almighty power will work this in us. Here is signified that it is Christ the Saviour, who supplies all the necessities of those who trust in him, and gives them all blessings in the richest abundance. And by being partakers of Christ himself, we come to be filled with the fulness of grace and glory in him. How then do those forget themselves who seek for righteousness out of him! This teaches us to come to Christ. And did we know what we are called to, and what we might find in him, surely we should come and be suitors to him. When feeling our weakness and the power of our enemies, we most perceive the greatness of that mighty power which effects the conversion of the believer, and is engaged to perfect his salvation. Surely this will constrain us by love to live to our Redeemer's glory.
Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 787

To the believer, death is but a small matter. Christ speaks of it as if it were of little moment. “If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death,” “he shall never taste of death.” To the Christian, death is but a sleep, a moment of silence and darkness. The life is hid with Christ in God, and “when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” John 8:51, 52; Colossians 3:4. DA 787.1

The voice that cried from the cross, “It is finished,” was heard among the dead. It pierced the walls of sepulchers, and summoned the sleepers to arise. Thus will it be when the voice of Christ shall be heard from heaven. That voice will penetrate the graves and unbar the tombs, and the dead in Christ shall arise. At the Saviour's resurrection a few graves were opened, but at His second coming all the precious dead shall hear His voice, and shall come forth to glorious, immortal life. The same power that raised Christ from the dead will raise His church, and glorify it with Him, above all principalities, above all powers, above every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in the world to come. DA 787.2

Read in context »
Ellen G. White
My Life Today, 295

Christ in My Life

I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10 ML 295.1

Read in context »
Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW), 1115

All who seek to sustain the doctrine of election, once in grace, always in grace, do this against a plain, “Thus saith the Lord.” ... [Ezekiel 18:21; 33:13 quoted.] 6BC 1115.1

Those who have been truly converted have been buried with Christ in the likeness of His death, and raised from the watery grave in the likeness of His resurrection, to walk in newness of life. By faithful obedience to the truth they are to make their calling and election sure (Manuscript 57, 1900). 6BC 1115.2

6 (ch. 2:7; see EGW on Matthew 3:16, 17; Luke 17:10; Ephesians 1:20, 21; Hebrews 4:15, 16; 9:24). Exalting Christ's Character—The most gifted men on the earth could all find abundant employment, from now until the judgment, for all their God-given powers, in exalting the character of Christ. But they would still fail to present Him as He is. The mysteries of redemption, embracing Christ's divine-human character, His incarnation, His atonement for sin, could employ the pens and the highest mental powers of the wisest men from now until Christ shall be revealed in the clouds of heaven in power and great glory. But though these men should seek with all their power to give a representation of Christ and His work, the representation would fall far short of the reality.... 6BC 1115.3

Read in context »
Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7 (EGW), 943

(Ephesians 2:1-6; see EGW on Genesis 2:7; Exodus 20:1-17; Matthew 4:1-11; Hebrews 2:14-18; 4:15.) Partakers of the Divine Nature—We must learn of Christ. We must know what He is to those He has ransomed. We must realize that through belief in Him it is our privilege to be partakers of the divine nature, and so escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. Then we are cleansed from all sin, all defects of character. We need not retain one sinful propensity.... [Ephesians 2:1-6 quoted.] ... 7BC 943.1

As we partake of the divine nature, hereditary and cultivated tendencies to wrong are cut away from the character, and we are made a living power for good. Ever learning of the divine Teacher, daily partaking of His nature, we cooperate with God in overcoming Satan's temptations. God works, and man works, that man may be one with Christ as Christ is one with God. Then we sit together with Christ in heavenly places. The mind rests with peace and assurance in Jesus (The Review and Herald, April 24, 1900). 7BC 943.2

The Enabling Grace of God—In His Word God reveals what He can do for human beings. He molds and fashions after the divine similitude the characters of those who will wear His yoke. Through His grace they are made partakers of the divine nature, and are thus enabled to overcome the corruption that is in the world through lust. It is God who gives us power to overcome. Those who hear His voice and obey His commandments are enabled to form righteous characters. Those who disregard His expressed commands will form characters like the propensities that they indulge (Letter 44, 1903). 7BC 943.3

Read in context »
More Comments