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Ephesians 3:15

From the Companion Bible

“The whole family in heaven and earth.”

1. The word “family” is an unfortunate rendering of the Greek patria. Our English word takes
its derivation from the lowest in the household, famulus, the servant or slave. The Latin familia
was sometimes used of the household of servants, and sometimes of all the members of a
family under the power of a paterfamilias. But the idea of patria is Hebrew, a group or class
of families all claiming descent from one pater (father), e.g. the twelve tribes of Israel. “Joseph
was of the house and lineage (family, Greek patria) of David” (Luke 2:4). The word occurs
only in Luke 2:4, Acts 3:25, and Ephesians 3:15, and denotes a clan all descended from a
common stock.

2. To apply this:—God has many families in heaven and earth, both in this age and in that
which is to come. But with selfish disregard of this fact we see only one family, and that of
course must be the “church,” for that is the family to which we belong. Thus we claim
everything for ourselves, especially if blessing, mercy, or glory is attached, and so we
completely ignore the fact that many of these families of God are named in scripture. In
Ephesians 1:21 we have “principality,” “power,” “might,” “dominion”; the first two being
again mentioned in Ephesisans 3:10, the principalities and powers in the heavenlies to whom
God is even now manifesting His manifold wisdom by means of the church (His body) as an
object lesson. Others are mentioned in Colossians 1:16 and I Peter 3:22. What these
heavenly families may be we do not know. The Greek words reveal to us no more than the
English do, because they pertain to the unseen world of which we know nothing.

To limit this verse to the “church” as many do, and to interpret it in wholly unscriptural terms of
the “church militant” and the “church triumphant”, and in hymn-book diction to sing

One family we dwell in Him


One church, above, beneath;
Though now divided by the stream,
The narrow stream of death

is not only to lose the revelation of a great truth of God, but to put error in its place. Rightly
divided, the families of God in the N.T. are:—in heaven, principalities, powers, might,
dominions, thrones, angels, and archangels. Among the families on earth are Israel, the Israel
of God (Galatians 6:16), and the church of God (I Corinthians 10:32).

Families of Heaven

Colossians 1:16: 16 For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in
earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones (2362), or dominions (2963), or
principalities (746), or powers (1849): all things were created by Him, and for Him:
I Peter 3:22: 22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels (32) and
authorities (1849) and powers (1411) being made subject unto Him.

Ephesians 1:21: 21 Far above all principality (746), and power (1849), and might (1411),
and dominion (2963), and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that
which is to come:

Ephesians 3:10: 10 To the intent that now unto the principalities (746) and powers (1849) in
heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

Ephesians 3:15: 15 Of whom the whole family (3965) in heaven and earth is named,

The Families of Earth

Luke 2:4: 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea,
unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house (3624) and
lineage (3965) of David:)

Acts 3:25: 25 Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with
our fathers, saying unto Abraham, “And in thy seed shall all the kindreds (3965) of the earth
be blessed.”

Galatians 6:16: 16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and
mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

I Corinthians 10:32: 32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the
church of God:

Words Cited

2362 thr4n4s, thron’-os; from thr~o (to sit); a stately seat (“throne”); by impl. power or
(concr.) a potentate:—seat, throne. Translated as “throne,” “thrones,” “seats,” and “seat.”

2963 kuri4tes, koo-ree-ot’-ace, from 2962; mastery, i.e. (concr. and coll.)
rulers:—dominion, government. This word is either translated “dominion,” “dominions,” or
“government.”

3965 pat‘r, pat-ayr’; appar. a prim. word; a “father” (lit. or fig., near or more
remote):—father, parent. This word is translated “lineage,” “kindreds,” “family.”

3624 4ik4s, oy’kos; of uncert. affin; a dwelling (more or less extensive, lit. or fig.); by impl. a
family (more or less related, lit. or fig.):—home, house (-hold), temple. This word is most often
translated “house,” but also “home,” “houses,” and “household.”

746 arch‘, ar-khay’; from 756; (prop. abstr.) a commencement, or (concr.) chief (in various
applications of order, time, place, or rank):—beginning, corner (at the, the) first (estate),
magistrate, power, principality, principle, rule. This word most often translated “beginning.”
Also “beginnings,” “power,” “magistrates,” “corners,” “first,” “principalities,” “principality,”
“rule,” “estate.”

1849 .x4usia, ex-oo-see’-ah; from 1832 (in the sense of ability); privilege, i.e. (subj.) force,
capacity, competency, freedom, or (obj.) mastery (concr. magistrate, superhuman, potentate,
token of control), delegated influence:—authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, strength.
1850, x4usiazÇ, from 1849; to control:—exercise authority upon, bring under the (have)
power of. This word translated “power,” “powers,” “authority,” “authorities,” “jurisdiction,”
“liberty,” “right,” “strength”

32 agg.l4s, ang’-el-os; from agg.llÇ, [prob. der. from 71; comp. 34] (to bring tidings); a
messenger; esp. an “angel”; by imp. a pastor:—angel, messenger. This word most often
translated as “angel” or “angels.” Also “messenger,” “messengers.”

1411 dunamis, doo’-nam-is, from 1410; force (lit. or fig.); spec. miraculous power (usually
by impl. a miracle itself):—ability, abundance, meaning, might (-ily, -y, -y deed), (worker of)
miracle (-s), power, strength, violence, mighty (wonderful) work. 1410, dunamai, of uncert.
affin.; to be able or possible:—be able, can (do, + -not), could, may, might, be possible, be
of power. 1412, dunam4Ç, from 1411; to enable:—strengthen. 1413, dunast‘s, from
1410; a ruler or officer:— of great authority, mighty, potentate. 1414, dunatÇ, from 1415;
to be efficient (fig.):—be mighty. 1415, dunat4s, from 1410; powerful or capable (lit. or
fig.); neut. possible:—able, could, (that is) mighty (man), possible, power, strong. This word
translated “works,” “work,” “power,” “powers,” “ability,” “virtue,” “miracle,” “miracles,”
“mighty,” “might,” “mightliy,” “meaning,” “strength,” “deeds,” “violence,” “abundance.”