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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Ephesians 3

 

 

Verses 1-21


Reasons for renewing the Prayer for Wisdom

1-13. A digression, which, however, could not be spared. As in Ephesians 1:15, he begins to speak of himself, and this time he explains his unique interest in the conversion of the Gentiles. 'Many of his readers had not seen him, but they must have heard of the special work assigned to him by God, of making known to all the mystery of the ages, so that even angelic powers learn through the Church the manysidedness of the Divine counsels.'

1. 'It was worth while becoming a prisoner in such a cause' (Philemon 1:9, 2 Timothy 1:8).

2. Again the sentence is broken: cp. Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:4, Ephesians 4:5. His being a prisoner on their behalf suggests a fresh train of thought. If he had been writing to Ephesians only, he could not have said 'if.' Ephesians had heard himself; cp. Colossians 1:25.

3. Afore in few words] in the first two chapters

5. 'The revelation is quite new; it has been hidden for many generations.' The Apostles and prophets are holy, as the readers are saints (Ephesians 1:1), as being set apart for God's service; they had accepted St. Paul's doctrine of salvation for the Gentiles. The prophets are the NT. prophets, as in Ephesians 2:20; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 12:28-31.

6. This is the mystery that has been revealed.

7. The Apostle of the Gentiles enlarges on the greatness of his special mission. Thrice here he calls it a grace given to him: cp. Galatians 2:7-9; Colossians 1:24.

8. Unsearchable] inexplorable; that cannot be traced out. Riches] the comprehensiveness and power of the gospel.

9. 'That which for ages has been kept secret from the wisest and holiest is now brought to light for all to see.'

10. It is an amazing thought that, by means of the Church, God's varied wisdom in the scheme of redemption is made known to heavenly beings. 'Angels desire to look into' 'the manifold grace of God' (1 Peter 1:12; 1 Peter 4:10). 11, 12. God's eternal purpose accomplished in Christ, through faith in whom we have courage to draw near to God. 12. A repetition of Ephesians 2:18 : cp. Romans 8:38, Romans 8:39.

13. That ye faint not] It might mean 'that I may not faint.' But St. Paul is not afraid of losing heart; he rejoiced in tribulations (Romans 5:8), and took pleasure in weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:10). He is afraid that the Gentiles may lose heart, when they see him persecuted for helping them: they ought rather to glory in this.

Now he returns to Ephesians 3:1 after his magnificent digression, and at last gives in fulness the prayer for their enlightenment which he began Ephesians 1:17, It is a very bold intercession.

14-21. Prayer and doxology. 'May they have great spiritual power, may Christ dwell in their hearts, may they know His incomprehensible love, and be filled up to the measure of God's fulness. To Him, who can give in abundance blessings which we cannot even imagine, be glory for ever.'

14. For this cause] because of their union with the Jews in Christ (Ephesians 2:13-22). The Jews stood to pray (Matthew 6:5; Luke 18:11-13), prostration being exceptional; but Christians are said to kneel (Acts 7:60; Acts 9:40; Acts 20:36; Acts 21:5), perhaps after Luke 22:41.

15. 'All fatherhood, whether earthly or celestial, derives its name from the Fatherhood of God.'

16. The inner man] is the immaterial part of man's nature, the soul and spirit; 'the outward man' (2 Corinthians 4:16) being the flesh.

18. May be able] 'may have full strength to comprehend what is really incomprehensible.' The four dimensions represent the vastneas of the love of Christ towards us.

19. An audacious paradox: 'that ye may be filled up to all the fulness of God,' i.e. to the perfection of the Divine attributes (Matthew 5:48).

20. The doxology explains the audacity of the prayer. God can give superabundantly quite inconceivable boons.

21. In the Church by Christ Jesus] RV 'in the Church and in Christ Jesus,' in the Body and in the Head. The Church in this Epistle is always the Church universal, never a local Church. This Church completes the Christ (Ephesians 1:23), reveals God's wisdom to the angels (Ephesians 3:10), is, with Christ, the sphere in which God is glorified. It is indeed a glorious Church (Ephesians 5:27).

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Ephesians 3:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/ephesians-3.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, October 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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