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Saturday, July 13th, 2024
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14
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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 3

Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy ScriptureOrchard's Catholic Commentary

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Verses 1-21

III 1-21 How the mystery was promulgated to the Gentiles— 1. He begins a prayer to conclude what he has been saying in ch 2, but mention of the Gentiles sets him off on a digression (2-13), and it is only in 14 that the idea of 1 is taken up again.

In this digression he writes of his God-given work on behalf of the Gentiles. He is the herald of the mystery. In a few words he describes the contents of the mystery.

6. The Gentiles are blessed equally with the Jews; for they are fellow-heirs in the same Messianic inheritance, members of the body of Christ (WV ’concorporate’). In a word, they have the same benefits, the same body and the same spirit’ (Médebielle).

7-8. His gratitude is deep: he is less than the least of the faithful, yet his mission is no less than to enlighten all men on the inexhaustible riches of Christ. 10-11. Even the angels will come to know the merciful, manifold, and eternal wisdom of God, as they watch the Church continuing Christ’s mission on earth. No room, then, for craven fear; in Christ we are led to the Father.

So far the Apostle has been thinking of his mission, but now ’he hears, as it were, the clink of his chain, and remembers where he is and why he is there’ (Robinson). His readers must not lose heart: imprisonment does not spell the end of his mission (cf. Colossians 1:24).

14-15. When he returns to utter the prayer begun at 1, he turns directly to the Father . . . of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named’. This seems best understood as follows: Just as a family (pat???) comes from a father (pat?), so every family, every society, every group among angels and men has God for Creator and Father. The point is that God is the prototype of all Fatherhood; human fatherhood is the copy and derivative of the divine, cf. §§ 640a, f, 649b.

16. He prays that the Holy Spirit will make their souls supernaturally strong, (17 ) that Christ will take up his permanent abode (?at???e??? is distinct from pa????e??? ’to take a lodging’) in their hearts. It is by faith, living by charity, that Christ comes to take possession of our hearts. From faith St Paul passes on to charity. By a twofold metaphor he points to a very strong charity (’rooted’; ’founded’) which he prays will be the working principles of their lives.

18. Ultimately, the prayer is for light to know. To know what? The Greek Fathers (followed among modern writers by Vosté, Huby, Robinson) suggested it was the mystery described above. It seems better, however, to regard 19 as explanatory of 18, with the result that Paul is here praying that they will be given light to grasp how great is the love of Christ. Of course, that love was shown forth in the mystery; so the two opinions are not in conflict. Christ’s love is described by four words grouped under one article— an arrangement that conveys the idea of the vastness of that love.

19. In fact, the love of Christ can never be fully comprehended.

20-21 The Doxology— The doxology, which concludes the prayer and the doctrinal part of the epistle, invokes, first, the boundless generosity of God, and then, the twofold instrument of God’s glory: Christ and the Church.

The Christian Life— The last three chapters of the epistle apply the teaching of the first three to the Christian’s life, as a member of the Church and of society, and to his individual life. This is called the moral part of the epistle. It has two sections, the first (4:1-5:21) consisting of General Injunctions, the second (5:22-6:9) concentrating on Family Life. There follows an Epilogue ( 6:10-22) and the Conclusion (6:23-24).

Bibliographical Information
Orchard, Bernard, "Commentary on Ephesians 3". Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/boc/ephesians-3.html. 1951.
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