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Thursday, June 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 3

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations

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Ephesians 3:1-6 Paul, in bonds for preaching Christ to the Gentiles, showeth that the mystery of their calling, heretofore hidden, had been revealed to him,

Ephesians 3:7-12 that by his ministry God’s gracious purpose might be universally known, and the Gentiles be assured of their acceptance by faith.

Ephesians 3:13 He desireth his Ephesian converts not to be discouraged at his sufferings on their account,

Ephesians 3:14-19 and prayeth that God would strengthen their faith and knowledge of the infinite love of Christ.

Ephesians 3:20,Ephesians 3:21 He giveth glory to God for his power in the church by Christ Jesus.

Verse 1

For this cause; i.e. that ye may be further confirmed in the faith of Christ, and more and more built up in him as an habitation of God, Ephesians 2:22.

The prisoner of Jesus Christ; for Christ’s sake, for asserting his cause and honour: see 2 Timothy 1:8; Philemon 1:1,Philemon 1:9.

For you Gentiles; for your cause and salvation; having preached and declared the grace of God to be free, and to belong to you Gentiles as well as to the Jews, (the middle wall of partition being taken away), and so equalled you with them. There is no small difference among expositors about the connection of these words: the fairest and easiest seems to be, either:

1. That the substantive verb am be here supplied, and the word read, I Paul am

the prisoner of Jesus Christ; q.d. I have for some time been and still am the prisoner of Jesus Christ. Or:

2. That this verse be joined to the Ephesians 3:14, (all the rest, Ephesians 3:2-13, being included in a parenthesis), where he begins with the same words as here; and so we may read it thus, Ephesians 3:1;

For this cause I Paul, the prisoner, & c.; and then, Ephesians 3:14, I say: For this cause I bow my knees, &c., viz. praying that ye may be strengthened with might hy his Spirit, &c.; i.e. that they might be more and more built up on Christ, on whom they were founded, and had begun to be built.

Verse 2

If ye have heard; this doth not imply doubting, but rather the apostle takes the thing for granted; q.d. Seeing ye have heard; and so some render it. See the like, 1 Peter 2:3.

Of the dispensation of the grace of God: either by grace he means his apostleship, as Romans 1:5; Galatians 2:9; or the free grace of God for salvation revealed in the gospel which he was to preach; and then by dispensation we must understand his commission or ordination of God to that work, via. to publish that grace whereof the ministers of the gospel are the dispensers, 1 Corinthians 4:1.

Which is given me to you-ward; to you Ephesians and other Gentiles, for whom particularly I am appointed an apostle, Acts 9:15; Acts 26:17,Acts 26:18; Galatians 2:7.

Verse 3

By revelation; not by man, but immediately, Acts 9:15; Galatians 1:12.

He made known unto me the mystery; viz. of calling the Gentiles to salvation by faith in Christ, without the works of the law, Ephesians 3:6.

As I wrote afore; in the two former chapters of this Epistle.

Verse 4

When ye read; or, unto which attending.

Verse 5

Which in other ages; in the times before Christ’s coming in the flesh.

Was not made known unto the sons of men: that the Gentiles should be called was formerly known and foretold, but not as since, viz. as to the time and manner of it, and the means whereby it should be effected.

Prophets; New Testament prophets, Ephesians 4:11; Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 14:1,1 Corinthians 14:3.

By the Spirit; either by the Spirit’s being poured out on the Gentiles, it was known that they should be co-heirs with the believing Jews; or rather, by the Spirit instructing the apostles and prophets, and immediately acquainting them with this mystery.

Verse 6

That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs; i.e. have an equal right to the heavenly inheritance with the believing Jews.

And of the same body; the same mystical body whereof Christ is the Head.

And partakers of his promise; the great promise of the covenant, which comprehends all the rest under it.

In Christ; in whom all the promises have their accomplishment, 2 Corinthians 1:20.

By the gospel; as the means or instrument by which God works faith, whereby they are made partakers of the promise, fellow heirs, &c.

Verse 7

According to the gift of the grace of God; either according to the free gift of God, and which was given merely of grace; or by

gift he understands all those several gifts (as of knowledge, utterance, &c.) which were the necessary qualifications and furniture of an apostle for the due discharge of his office, all which were freely given to him.

Given unto me by the effectual working of his power; whereby God made him a preacher of the gospel, who had been a persecutor of believers, and wrought effectually by the Spirit with his preaching for the conversion of thousands, and spreading the gospel in many countries; and likewise wrought miracles for the confirmation of the truth, and conviction of hearers, Acts 19:12; Acts 28:8.

Verse 8

Who am less than the least of all saints; this the apostle speaks considering his former estate in Judaism, when he persecuted the church of Christ: so 1 Corinthians 15:9; 1 Timothy 1:13,1 Timothy 1:15. Thus modest is the apostle, when speaking of himself, and not of his office.

The unsearchable riches of Christ; all that grace of Christ which he was to make known to the Gentiles in his preaching, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption, 1 Corinthians 1:30.

Verse 9

To make all men; all those to whom the apostle was sent.

See; or, to enlighten them; i.e. ministerially, Acts 26:18; as to enlighten them principally belongs to Christ, John 1:9.

What is the fellowship of the mystery; or communication of the mystery, viz. concerning the salvation of the Gentiles without circumcision, or the works of the law which God now made known by Paul’s ministry, contrary to what the Jews believed.

Which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God; not revealed to men as to the circumstances and manner of it, but hid in the mind and purpose of God: see the like, Ephesians 1:9.

Who created all things by Jesus Christ; this may be understood either of the first creation, or the second, or immediately of the first, and by that of the second; as God created all things at first, (and so both Jews and Gentiles), and gave them their being, by Christ, John 1:3; so he recreates, regenerates, and gives them a new being, by Christ, that they may be of the same body under him: see the like, 2 Corinthians 4:6.

Verse 10

Principalities and powers in heavenly places; good angels, Colossians 1:16; 1 Peter 3:22.

Might be known by the church; not effectually, as a teacher or instructor of angels present in church assemblies; but objectively, as a mirror in which they might behold and contemplate the manifold wisdom of God.

The manifold wisdom of God: exceedingly, or many ways, various. The Divine wisdom is in itself one simple thing, but appearing in so great variety of works, it is said to be various. This may be best understood of the whole economy of men’s redemption, and God’s governing his church in several ages, the several forms of the church, the various ways of revealing the Divine will, the different measures of light let out in different times, the different dispensations of the covenant of grace before the law, under the law, under the gospel, to the Jews, to the Gentiles, &c.

Verse 11

According to the eternal purpose: all that God doeth in the work of our redemption, whereby he sets forth his manifold wisdom, he doeth according to what he had from eternity purposed to do, and therein likewise shows his wisdom, to which it belongs to order and determine things before the doing of them, and then to do them as they have been ordered.

Which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord; not only as the eternal Wisdom of the Father, but as designed in God’s decree to be the Head of the church, and he by whom God would in time execute his eternal purpose.

Verse 12

In whom; or by, or through whom, or into whom being ingrafted and incorporated.

We have boldness, or freeness of speech. It signifies that liberty and spiritual security, whereby we come to God as to a Father, in the freedom of children, not the fear of slaves, Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6; 1 John 3:21.

And access; not only in prayer, but all the communion we have with God by faith in Christ, 1 Peter 3:18.

With confidence; either securely without fear, (as before), or with confidence of acceptance with God, and obtaining what we ask.

By the faith of him; i.e. faith in him, as Romans 3:22; see the like, Mark 11:22.

Verse 13

Wherefore I desire; I pray you. This is an exhortation to the Ephesians, not a prayer to God, for that follows, Ephesians 3:14.

That ye faint not at my tribulations for you; the truth I have preached to you being the cause of my sufferings, and your salvation (to which they tend as a means to confirm your faith) being the end of them.

Which is your glory; either he means, that their not fainting, or not falling away from Christ, by reason of his sufferings, was their glory; or rather, that his sufferings were their glory, in that he did by them seal the truth of the doctrine he had preached, being still ready to suffer for what he delivered to them.

Verse 14

For this cause; this may be referred either to the former verse: {Ephesians 3:13} For this cause, viz. that ye faint not, & c.; or rather to the 1st verse, {Ephesians 3:1} the apostle here resuming what he had been beginning there.

Verse 15

Of whom; either of God, or rather of Christ, last mentioned.

The whole family, or kindred, the church of God being his household, Ephesians 2:19.

In heaven and earth; all the saints, both which are already in glory, and which yet live upon the earth, wherever or whoever they be, Jews or Gentiles.

Is named: to be named, or called, implies the thing as well as the name, Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:35. The whole family is named of Christ; i.e. of him they are, as well as are called, Christians, and the church of God. The Jews boasted of Abraham as their father; but now all believers, even Gentiles, are one family of God’s people, and upon them the name of Christ is called.

Verse 16

The riches of his glory; i.e. the abundance of his power: see Romans 6:4.

To be strengthened with might; further degrees of spiritual strength, proceeding from God’s power as the fountain.

By his Spirit; as the immediate worker of all inherent grace.

In the inner man; the reasonable powers of the soul as renewed by grace, the same as heart in the next verse, and spirit, 1 Thessalonians 5:23; see 2 Corinthians 4:16.

Verse 17

That Christ; on whom this Spirit (who must strengthen you, as being a Spirit of might, Isaiah 11:2) resteth, Isaiah 61:1

May dwell in your hearts; may intimately and continually possess and fill, not your heads only with his doctrine, but your affections with his Spirit: see John 14:23.

By faith; whereby ye not only believe Cllrist’s truth, but receive and apprehend himself, and which is the means by which ye have union and communion with him.

That ye, being rooted and grounded in love: either he means:

1. Our love to God and our neighbour; and then he prays that their love might not be slight and superficial, but strong and firm. Or:

2. God’s love to us; and then he prays that the Ephesians, who had already tasted God’s love to them in Christ, might be more fully strengthened in the persuasion of that love.

Verse 18

May be able to comprehend, more fully and perfectly to perceive and understand, with all saints, which are or have been, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, the immense vastness, dignity, and perfection; either:

1. Of redemption by Christ, extending both to Jew and Gentile, and so the mystery before mentioned. Or rather:

2. Of the love of Christ, as follows.

Verse 19

And to know, sensibly and experimentally to perceive in yourselves,

the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge; which, though it may in a greater degree than hitherto be known and experienced, yet never can be in this life fully and absolutely understood and comprehended: see Ephesians 3:8, and the like expression, Philippians 4:7.

That ye might be filled with all the fulness of God; all that fulness of knowledge, faith, love, holiness, and whatsoever it is with which God fills believers gradually here, and perfectly hereafter, when God shall be all in all, 1 Corinthians 15:28.

Verse 20

Now unto him; i.e. God the Father.

That is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think; and therefore is able to stablish you to the end, and do all for you that hath been desired.

According to the power that worketh in us; the exceeding greatness of his power, Ephesians 1:19; whereby God works faith, and preserves to salvation, 1 Peter 1:5, and enables to bear afflictions, 2 Timothy 1:8.

Verse 21

Unto him be glory in the church; the whole church of Jews and Gentiles. The church only knows the mystery and partakes of the benefits before mentioned, and therefore the church only can rightly glorify God for them.

By Christ Jesus; either in Christ, in whom the Father hath displayed all his love to us; or rather by (according to our version) Christ, as the Mediator between God and us; by whom we offer up our services to God, praises as well as prayers, Romans 1:8; Romans 7:25. Throughout all ages; or, through all generations.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Ephesians 3". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/ephesians-3.html. 1685.
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