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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 3

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


For this reason. “Because of the truth that God had already decided to adopt the Gentiles as children (Ephesians 1:5), I am the prisoner of Christ Jesus for your sake.” Since Paul writes from his imprisonment in Rome, it is important the Ephesians do not misunderstand his suffering or be discouraged by it. The main subject of Ephesians 3:1-13 is God’s call to the Gentiles and Paul’s mission as an apostle to take the Good News to the Gentiles. He reminds his readers of the secret of that call, how the call was revealed to the apostles and prophets, and his own commission to the service of preaching the Good News to the Gentiles; and to show that God’s grace opened the church to those who were not part of national Israel.

Verse 2


That God. “You cannot doubt that I am imprisoned for the sake of you Gentiles, since you have heard about the mission God gave me, to preach the Good News to you without requiring you to obey the Law of Moses!” Compare Galatians 1:13-16.

Verse 3


His secret plan. To Paul, a secret or mystery is something hidden until the time comes for it to be revealed. Compare 1 Corinthians 2:6-10. I have written briefly. Johnson thinks Paul means what he has already written in this Letter (Ephesians 1:9-10; Ephesians 2:11-18). Some scholars think Paul had written other letters to the Ephesians, which do not form part of the New Testament.

Verse 4


You can learn my understanding. (1) “You will know as much of the secret of Christ as I know!” (2) “You will see in my actions and my whole life, my understanding of the secret of God’s will for the Gentiles!”

Verse 5


In past times. “God did make his promise to Abraham, but no one ever thought God would save the Gentiles through their faith in Christ. In fact, in times past, no one knew just how God would make his promise come true! But now that God has acted in Christ, the Spirit revealed the Plan to God’s holy apostles and prophets (John 14:26; 1 Corinthians 12:8 and notes).”

Verse 6


The secret is this. “The Gentiles share directly with the Jews in the heavenly inheritance. This means: they are now members of the same body, the church, through faith in Christ; they share in the promise (Galatians 3:17-18) that God made in Christ Jesus.”

Verse 7


I was made. “At a specific time and place, Christ appeared to me to make me an apostle, and this was God’s special gift to me.”

Verse 8


I am less. Some think Paul never really got over the fact that he had tried to destroy the messianic community! Yet, it is equally clear that Paul knew God had forgiven him for this (1 Timothy 1:12-13)! It is probable that Paul’s enemies kept bringing this up to try to discredit him, and that he takes their accusation and uses it to prove the reality of his commission to be an apostle.

Verse 9


And to make all men see. In contrast to the mystery religions which claimed to reveal secrets to the privileged few, Paul states that his mission is to tell all men! God’s secret plan, is put into effect by God’s offer to save men through Christ by faith!!!

Verse 10


In order that. “God kept his secret hidden during the past ages, and even the angelic rulers and powers did not understand what He had planned. Now, at this present time, the fullness of God’s wisdom is revealed! The church (messianic community) plays a vital part in God’s Plan, since it is by means of the church that we are able to identify God’s unchanging Plan at work in history. The continual growth of Christ’s church points forward to the climax which is still future Ephesians 1:10).

Verse 11


Which he achieved. “God’s Plan, which becomes visible in the church, is not some whim of God, but the result of God’s eternal purpose. God’s great saving power in all of history is focused in and through Jesus Christ and his church!!!”

Verse 12


The freedom to enter into. Johnson says: “In Jesus Christ, all, both Jew and Gentile alike, can come boldly [with confidence] to God. Without the revelation of Christ [The Faith] we could hardly know of God as a God of love, who loved to have us come to him.”

Verse 13


Do not be discouraged. “I have given you good reasons why you should not be discouraged by my suffering for you. I have showed you God’s secret which has been revealed in Jesus Christ, and I have showed you that God accepts you Gentiles directly, without first becoming Jews. My suffering really proves the truth of the Good News I have preached to you!”

Verse 14


For this reason. “Because of the great privileges God offers to all of us including you Gentiles, and because I do not want you to be discouraged by the things I am suffering, I fall on my knees before the Father in prayer for you all!” [Early Christians sometimes kneeled in prayer, but usually stood, with arms outstretched and hands palm upward, with their eyes raised to the sky.]

Verse 15


Receives its true name. Johnson says “The idea is that The Father is the Father of all the families of his children, whether Jews or Gentiles on earth, or in heaven.” MacKnight thinks this includes the good angels.

Verse 16


I ask God. “My prayer to God for you is: that out of the wealth of his glory, he would give you power (compare Acts 4:31) through his Spirit who lives in you (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), to be strong in your inner selves as you see God’s promises to you and that you will have the courage to hold firmly to these things!!!”

Verse 17


And that Christ. “And that Christ, who bought you for God by his death and made these promises of God available to you, will make his home in your hearts! Faith is the means by which he does this.” Your roots and foundations. “Your very life and growth has its roots in love, and love is the mortar that builds you living stones (1 Peter 2:5) into God’s Temple (Ephesians 2:22) on the foundation which is Jesus Christ!” See Ephesians 3:19.

Verse 18


The power to understand. “Unless your roots and foundations are in love, you will never really be able to understand the far reaching effects of Christ’s love!!! Love led him to the Cross and love caused him to build his church (Matthew 16:18), which not being limited to Jerusalem, covers the whole earth and reaches to heaven itself!!! Christ’s church is large enough to contain all the believers of all the nations; and it is so firmly built that it can never be destroyed, but will extend into Eternity!!!”

Verse 19


Yes, may you. “I want you to come to know Christ’s love, on which his church is built. You can know it, although it is true that in this world we can only know in part the infinite love of Christ! I want you to be filled with God’s grace and power to the fullest extent, and love is vital to this!!!”

Verses 20-21


To him. “And now to him who is able to make both we Jews and you Gentiles participate and share in all his promises, and to do so much more than we can ever ask for or even think of, both now and in Eternity, by means of the power working in us (Ephesians 1:10; Ephesians 1:19; Colossians 1:29; Philippians 2:13): to God who is able and willing to do all this for us, be glory in the church as the body of Christ, and in Christ Jesus through whom God focused his great saving power, for all time, forever and ever! Amen.” It may be that Paul views the everlasting future as one long AGE which began at the Empty Tomb which climaxed Christ’s First Coming and which extends into the limitless Eternity!!!

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Ephesians 3". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/ephesians-3.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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