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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Ephesians 3

 

 

Verse 1

Ephesians 3:1. τούτου χάριν) for this cause. This subject is resumed at Ephesians 3:14. [Such is the rich abundance of the apostolic spirit.—V. g.]— δέσμιος) The ambassador, and he too bound [a prisoner].— ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, for you) The persecutors were incensed against Paul’s zeal in behalf of the Gentiles, so that they imprisoned him; and his very bonds were profitable to the Gentiles, Ephesians 3:13; 2 Timothy 2:10.— τῶν ἐθνῶν, for the Gentiles) This is explained in the following verses.


Verse 2

Ephesians 3:2. εἴγε ἠκούσατε, since(39) indeed ye have heard) The things which they had heard concerning Paul (comp. note on Ephesians 1:1(40)) were a testimony that he, Ephesians 3:1, spoke the truth concerning himself.


Verse 3

Ephesians 3:3. κατὰ ἀποκαλύψιν, by revelation) Galatians 1:12; Acts 9:3-4.— ἐγνώρισέ μοι, made known to me) God, by His grace.— τὸ μυστήριον, the mystery) of Christ; see the following verses.— προέγραψα ἐν ὀλίγῳ) I wrote before in a few words. He refers to Ephesians 1:9-10, and he repeats the words from that passage here.


Verse 4

Ephesians 3:4. πρὸς , whereby) This expression is not exclusively to be referred to in a few words, but to the whole thought; and πρὸς marks the analogy, according to [“from which ye may understand”]: as in the common saying, the size of the lion may be inferred from the size of his claw.(41) From what I have written above, you may, etc.— δύνασθε, you may) The word is modestly and ingenuously used.— ἀναγινώσκουτες, when you read) This book is very sublime, and yet it is put into the hands of all to be read.— νοῆσαι τὴν σύνεσίν μου, understand my knowledge [perceive my understanding in]) and therefore profit by me. Paul wrote with greater plainness and sublimity in this epistle, than he had formerly done in any other.


Verse 5

Ephesians 3:5. , which) This refers to Ephesians 3:3, as the repetition of the verb γνωρίζω, I make known, indicates.— ἑτέραις γενεαῖς, in other ages) Time in the ablative, as Acts 13:36.— οὐκ ἐγνωρίσθνη, was not made known) He does not say οὐκ ἀπεκαλύφθη, was not revealed. Making known by revelation (Ephesians 3:3) is the source of making known by preaching. Revelation is somewhat more special; making known is done in the hearing of others also: revelation is only made to the prophets.— τοῖς υἱοῖς τῶν ἀνθρώπων, to the sons of men) A very wide appellation, expressing the cause of ignorance, natural descent, to which the Spirit is opposed; comp. Matthew 16:17. He speaks of their former state in the idiom of the Hebrew language. Moreover, the antithesis of the apostles and prophets of the New Testament to the sons of men leads to the conclusion, that by this appellation the ancient prophets are principally intended; for example, Ezekiel, who is often called בן אדם, son of man, and has copiously described the city and house of God, as Paul does in this place.— ἐν πνεύματι, in the Spirit) the gift of whom was reserved for the New Testament, with a view to the glorifying of Christ.


Verse 6

Ephesians 3:6. εἶναι) that the Gentiles are; and that they should be.— συγκληρονόμα, fellow-heirs) in the inheritance of God.— σύσσωμα, of the same body) under the head Christ.— συμμέτοχα τῆς ἐπαγγελίας, fellow partakers of His promise) in the communion of the Holy Spirit. The same μετοχὴ, participation, is mentioned Hebrews 6:4; the same promise, ch. Ephesians 1:13 [“that Holy Spirit of promise”]: comp. on the Trinity, ch. Ephesians 4:4-6; Ephesians 4:18; Ephesians 4:21; Ephesians 4:30; Ephesians 5:1-2; Ephesians 5:18; 2 Corinthians 13:14.— ἐν τῷ χριστῷ, in Christ) Construe with, should be.(42)


Verse 7

Ephesians 3:7. οὗ, of which) viz. the Gospel.— κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργειαν, according to the working) Ephesians 3:20; ch. Ephesians 1:19.


Verse 8

Ephesians 3:8. τῷ ἐλαχιστοτέρῳ, less than the least) The idea of the name Paul,(43) increased by a comparative which rises higher than even the superlative; whereby it is implied that he scarcely reckons himself among the saints. This is modestly and very elegantly expressed.— τῶν ἁγίων, of the saints) The saints here are opposed to the Gentiles; comp. the note on Acts 20:32.— ἀνεξιχνίαστον, unsearchable [never capable of being fully traced out]) Ephesians 3:18-19. There is a similar epithet found at Ephesians 3:10, manifold.— πλοῦτον, riches) Here heavenly riches are commended; presently after, wisdom, Ephesians 3:10.


Verse 9

Ephesians 3:9. φωτίσαι) to make see, to show; comp. Colossians 1:28. For הורה, LXX. φωτίζει, 2 Kings 12:3, and in other places.— τίς οἰκονομία, what is the dispensation) Colossians 1:25-26. [The reading οἰκονομία is acknowledged by the most earnest defenders of the more received readings(44)—Not. Crit.]— ἐν τῷ θεῷ, in God) An antithesis to creatures, even the most excellent, Ephesians 3:10.— τῷ τὰ πάντα κτίσαντι, who created all things) The creation of all things is the foundation of all the rest of the economy, most freely dispensed, according to the universal power of God. The expression, all things, includes τὰς ἀρχὰς, κ. τ. λ., principalities, etc.


Verse 10

Ephesians 3:10. νῦν) now, first: comp. Ephesians 3:5.— ταῖς ἀρχαῖς καὶ ταῖς ἐξουσίαις, to the principalities and powers) good, or even bad; but in a different way to the one, as compared with the other.— διὰ, by) from those things which happen to the Church; for it (the Church) is the theatre in which the Divine works are displayed. Comp. 1 Corinthians 4:9.— πολυποίκιλος) Syr(45) Vers. renders it, full of varieties.— σοφία, wisdom) The angels are particularly conversant about this object.


Verse 11

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 12

Ephesians 3:12. τὴν παῤῥησίαν, liberty) of the mouth, in praying.— τὴν προσαγωγὴν ἐν πεποιθήσει, access, admission in confidence) in reality and with the heart.


Verse 13

Ephesians 3:13. αἰτοῦμαι) I desire,(46) ask God: comp. Ephesians 3:20; Ephesians 3:12. So, asking absolutely, Colossians 1:9 [“We do not cease desiring ( αἰτούμενοι) for you:” viz. desiring God].— μὴ ἐκκακεῖν, not to faint) that I may not prove wanting [that there be no defect on my part], but that I may speak boldly and allure many. The infinitive referring to the same person as the finite verb I ask.(47)θλίψεσί μου ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, in my afflictions for you) Ephesians 3:1.— δόξα) [your] glory spiritual; inasmuch as your faith is assisted thereby [1 Corinthians 4:10].


Verse 14

Ephesians 3:14. κάμπτω τὰ γόνατά μου, I bend my knees) If Paul had been present, he would have bent his knees with a breast kindling into a glow of devotion. Acts 20:36.— πατέρα) Its conjugate is πατριά.


Verse 15

Ephesians 3:15. ἐξ οὗ) of Whom, viz. the Father of Jesus Christ. The foundation of all sonship is in Jesus Christ.— πᾶσα) the whole, of angels, of Jews, of other men.— πατριὰ) family, depending on Him as the [its] Father. Comp. πατριὰ, Luke 2:4; Acts 3:25.— ὀνομάζεται, is named) In the passive or middle voice. They are called the sons of God by God Himself, and delight in this name, Isaiah 44:5, comp. I will call, Romans 9:25-26.


Verse 16

Ephesians 3:16. δυνάμει, with might) This accords with the mention of the Spirit.— εἰς τὸν ἔσω ἄνθρωπον, in the inner man) The inner man is the man himself with all his faculties, considered as to the things within, ch. Ephesians 4:22; Ephesians 4:24; 1 Peter 3:4. The inner man is to the Spirit of God what the hearts of the saints are to Christ, Ephesians 3:17. The inner men is mostly taken in a good sense; because with the wicked all things are in full harmony with wickedness, and there is no need of limitation or distinction.(48) The Scripture has regard chiefly to things internal. The Chiasmus must be noticed: in the first sentence we have, that He would grant to you; in the second, to dwell; in the third, in love—that you may be able: in the fourth, that you might be filled. The third relates to the second, the fourth to the first. In the first and fourth God is mentioned; in the second and third, Christ. If we suppose a colon placed after ἄνθρωπον and after χριστοῦ, the matter will be clear.


Verse 17

Ephesians 3:17. κατοικῆσει) that Christ may dwell for ever. It is without any connecting particle [Asyndeton]. Where the Spirit of God is, there also is Christ.


Verse 18

Ephesians 3:18. ἐν ἀγάπῃ, in love) of Christ: Ephesians 3:19, note.— ἐῤῥιζωμένοι καὶ τεθεμελιωμένοι, rooted and founded [grounded]) The root is, of a tree—the foundation, of a house. A Syllepsis(49) precedes, which must thus be explained: that you may have Christ dwelling in you, being rooted, comp. Colossians 2:2, note; unless the Nominative rather agrees with you may be able,(50) as the ardour of Paul was eagerly intent on what follows. So, in the middle of the sentence, if and how are placed, 1 Corinthians 11:14-15; 1 Corinthians 14:7; 1 Corinthians 14:16; and ἵνα itself, that, 1 Corinthians 14:12;(51), 2 Corinthians 2:4; but the words which precede these particles render the earnest striving [of his prayers] very emphatic.— ἐξισχύσητε) you may be able: even still further.— καταλαβέσθαι) to attain, to comprehend.— τί τὸ πλάτος καὶ μῆκος καὶ βάθος καὶ ὕψος, what is the breadth and length and depth and height) These dimensions of the spiritual temple refer to the fulness of God, Ephesians 3:19, to which the Church according to its capacity ought to correspond; comp. ch. Ephesians 4:10; Ephesians 4:13, concerning Christ. For the breadth of the fulness and of the love of Christ is signified, and that too in respect of all men and all peoples; and its length, extending through all ages, Ephesians 3:21 : as also its depth, which no creature can fathom; and its height, Ephesians 4:8, such as no enemy can reach. Comp. Psalms 117. In regard to this breadth, length, depth, height, all which are one magnitude, there is nothing broad, long, deep, high in any creature. By Chiasmus the order of the ideas is, love [Ephesians 3:17], breadth [length, depth, height, Ephesians 3:18]: [then in Ephesians 3:19] love, fulness; of these four, the third corresponds to the first, therefore the second to the fourth. In Ephesians 3:19 the love is at length expressly mentioned; but in Ephesians 3:18 the fulness of God in itself; but this very fulness is also tinctured with love.


Verse 19

Ephesians 3:19. γνῶναί τε τὴν ὑπερβάλλουσαν τῆς γιώσεως, κ. τ. λ., and to know what passes knowledge, etc.) This clause also depends on that you may be able. This is a very charming correction of himself, so to speak;(52) he had said, to know: he immediately denies that our knowledge can be considered adequate; we know only this, that love is more abundantly rich than our knowledge. The love of Christ to us always exceeds our knowledge; and so in Ephesians 3:20 the power of God exceeds our knowledge.— ἵνα, that) without a conjunction; comp. ἵνα, that, Ephesians 3:18. Spiritual knowledge and fulness are joined together.— εἰς, unto(53)) This is the goal.


Verse 20

Ephesians 3:20. ὑπὲρ πάντα) πάντα is governed by ποιῆσαι, whence ὑπὲρ is put adverbially, as presently after ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ, and ὑπερλίαν, 2 Corinthians 11:5; ὑπὲρ may however be construed with πάντα: comp. ch. Ephesians 1:22, where ὑπὲρ πάντα means, that which is above all: this [His exaltation as Head of the Church] is above all exaltation, that He Himself is the Head of the Church, etc.(54)ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ, exceedingly abundant) Construe with to do.— ὧν) The Genitive is governed by the comparative, which is contained in περισσοῦ.— νοοῦμεν, or think) Thought takes a wider range than prayers. A gradation.— κατὰ, according to) Paul appeals to their and his experience.


Verse 21

Ephesians 3:21. ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ, in the Church) Ephesians 3:10.— εἰς πάσας, into all) Ephesians 3:11, ch. Ephesians 2:7 : comp. again Psalms 117. Into all generations, which αἰὼν, the age, comprehends, and which terminates in the everlasting ages, τοὺς αἰῶνας.— τὰς γενεὰς, generations) A generation is properly a period of human life, whilst we proceed from parents to children; αἰῶνες are periods of the Divine economy, passing on as it were from one scene to another. Here both words, for the sake of amplification, with a metaphor in γενεὰ, generation, are joined together, so that a very long time may be implied. For there are in αἰῶνες no longer generations.(55)

 


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Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Ephesians 3:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/ephesians-3.html. 1897.


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