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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

Ephesians 3

Verse 1

For this cause. Seeing ye are so builded together.

Of Christ Jesus [του χριστου ιησου] . Notice the article, the Christ, and see on ch. Ephesians 2:13.

Gentiles. To whom Paul was expressly sent, and in preaching to whom he had fallen into the hands of the civil law.

Verse 2

If ye have heard [ειγε ηκουσατε] . Here begins a long digression extending to ver. 14. If, Rev., if so be, means upon the supposition that; not implying the certainty of the assumption, though this shade of meaning is given by the context. The words are a reminder of his preaching among them.

Dispensation [οικονομιαν] . See on ch. Ephesians 1:10; Colossians 1:25. The divine arrangement or disposition.

Verse 4

Whereby [προς ο] . Lit., agreeably to which, namely, what he had written.

Mystery of Christ. The mystery which is Christ. See on Colossians 1:26; Romans 11:25.

Verse 5

Other generations [ετεραις] . Other and different. See on Matthew 6:24.

Verse 6

Fellow - - heirs - of the same body - partakers [συγκληρονομα συσσωμα συμμετοχα] . The second of these words occurs only here; the third only here and ch. 5 7. They are strange to classical Greek.

Verse 7

Gift of the grace. The gift in which the grace of God consisted, the apostleship to the Gentiles.

By the effectual working of His power [κατα την ενεργειαν της δυναμεως αυτου] . Rev., better, according to the working, etc. The gift was bestowed in accordance with that efficiency which could transform Saul the persecutor into Paul the apostle to the Gentiles.

Verse 8

Less than the least [τω ελαχιστοτερω] . Only here in the New Testament, and very characteristic. A comparative is formed upon a superlative : more least than all the saints. Compare 1 Corinthians 14:8. 1 Corinthians 14:1 1 Corinthians 14:68 Unsearchable [ανεξιχνιαστον] . Only here and Romans 11:33 (note).

Which cannot be tracked out.

Verse 9

To make all men see [φωτισαι παντας] . Lit., to enlighten. The mystery. The admission of the Gentiles into covenant privileges. From the beginning of the world [απο των αιωνων] . Lit., from the ages. Rev., from all ages. See on Colossians 1:26.

All things [τα παντα] . Collectively.

Verse 10

To the intent that. Connect with the matter of the two preceding verses. Grace was given me to preach Christ and to enlighten men as to the long - hidden mystery of the admission of the Gentiles, in order that now, etc.

Now. In contrast with all ages.

Principalities and powers. Good angels. See on ch. Ephesians 1:21.

By the Church [δια] . Better, through, as Rev. By means of the Church. This agrees with what was said of the Church as the fullness of God, ch. 1 23.

Manifold wisdom [πολυποικιλος σοφια] . A very striking phrase. The adjective occurs only here, and means variegated. It is applied to pictures, flowers, garments. Poikilon is used in the Septuagint of Joseph 's coat, Genesis 37:3. Through the Church God 's wisdom in its infinite variety is to be displayed - the many - tinted wisdom of God - in different modes of power, different characters, methods of training, providences, forms of organization, etc.

Verse 11

Eternal purpose [προθεσιν των αιωνων] . Lit., the purpose of the ages.

He wrought [εποιησεν] . Carried into effect. See on fulfilling, ch. 2 3.

Verse 12

Faith of Him [της πιστεως αυτου] . As often, for faith in Him.

Verse 13

Faint [εγκακειν] . Lit., lose heart. Kakov in classical Greek, but not in the New Testament, sometimes means cowardly.

Verse 14

For this cause. Resuming the interrupted clause in ver. 1, and having still in mind the closing thought of ch. 2. Seeing ye are so built together in Christ, for this cause, etc.

Father. Omit of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 15

Of whom [εξ ου] . After whom.

The whole family [πασα πατρια] Rev., more correctly, every family. Patria is, more properly, a group of families - all who claim a common pathr. father. Family, according to our usage of the term, would be oikov house. The Israelites were divided into tribes [φυλαι] , and then into patpiai, each deriving its descent from one of Jacob 's grandsons; and these again into oikoi houses. So Joseph was both of the house [οικου] and family [πατριας] of David. We find the phrase oikoi patriwn houses of the families, Exodus 12:3; Numbers 1:2. The word occurs only three times in the New Testament : here, Luke 2:4; Acts 3:25. In the last - named passage it is used in a wide, general sense, of nations. Family is perhaps the best translation, if taken in its wider meaning of a body belonging to a common stock - a clan. Fatherhood (Rev., in margin), following the Vulgate paternitas, means rather the fact and quality of paternity. Observe the play of the words, which can scarcely be reproduced in English, pater, patria.

In heaven and earth. To the angelic hosts and the tribes of men alike, God is Father. There may be a suggestion of the different ranks or grades of angels, as principalities, thrones, powers, etc. See ver. 10. "Wherever in heaven or in earth beings are grouped from their relation to a father, the name they bear in each case is derived from the Father" (Riddle).

Verse 16

Might [δυναμει] . Rev., power. Appropriate to the succeeding phrase the inner man, since it signifies faculty or virtue not necessarily manifest. In the inward man [εις τον εσω ανθρωπον] . The force of the preposition is into : might entering into the inmost personality. Inward man : compare outward man, 2 Corinthians 4:16. It is the rational and moral I; the essence of the man which is conscious of itself as a moral personality. In the unregenerate it is liable to fall under the power of sin (Romans 7:23); and in the regenerate it needs constant renewing and strengthening by the Spirit of God, as here. Compare the hidden man of the heart, 1 Peter 3:4.

Verse 17

May dwell [κατοικησαι] . Settle down and abide. Take up His permanent abode, so that ye may be a habitation [κατοικητηριον] of God. See on ch. Ephesians 2:22. The connection is with the preceding clause : " to be strengthened, etc., so that Christ may dwell, the latter words having at once a climactic and an explanatory force, and adding the idea of permanency to that of strengthening.

By faith [δια της πιστεως] . Through your (the article) faith, as the medium of appropriating Christ. Faith opens the door and receives Him who knocks. Revelation 3:20.

Verse 18

Rooted and grounded [ερριζωμενοι και τεθεμελιωμενοι] .

Compare Colossians 2:7, and see note. Grounded or founded, from qemelion foundation. The dwelling in ver. 17 would naturally suggest the foundation. Rooting and grounding are consequences of the strengthening of the Spirit and of Christ 's indwelling.

In love. Standing first in the sentence and emphatic, as the fundamental principle of christian life and knowledge.

May be able [εξισχυσητε] . Rev., may be strong. This compound verb occurs only here. The preposition ejx has the force of fully or eminently. Iscuv is strength embodied; inhering in organized power. Hence it is an advance on dunamei might in ver. 16 (see note). Paul prays that the inward might or virtue may issue in ability to grasp. Compare Luke 14:30; Luke 16:3; Acts 27:16; James 5:16, and see notes. 169 Comprehend [καταλαβεσθαι] . To English readers this conveys the meaning understand. Rev., better, apprehend : grasp. See on John 1:5, and compare Philippians 3:12, Philippians 3:13.

Breadth, etc. No special interpretations are to be given to these words. The general idea of vastness is expressed in these ordinary terms for dimension. Notice that the article is attached only to the first, breadth, all the rest being included under the one article; the intention being to exhibit the love of Christ in its entire dimension, and not to fix the mind on its constituent parts.

Verse 19

To know [γνωναι] . Practically, through experience; while apprehend marks the knowledge as conception.

Love of Christ. Christ 's love to us. Human love to Christ could not be described in these terms.

Which passeth knowledge [την υπερβαλλουσαν της γνωσεως] .

Which surpasses mere knowledge without the experience of love. Note the play on the words know and knowledge.

That ye might be filled with all the fullness of God [ινα πληρωθητε εις παν το πληρωμα του θεου] . Note the recurrence of that; that He would grant you; that ye may be strong; that ye may be filled. With is better rendered unto, to the measure or standard of. Fullness of God is the fullness which God imparts through the dwelling of Christ in the heart; Christ, in whom the Father was pleased that all the fullness should dwell (Colossians 1:19), and in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead (Colossians 2:9).

Verse 20

Exceeding abundantly [υπερεκπερισσου] . Only here, 1 Thessalonians 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:13. Superabundantly. One of the numerous compounds of uJper beyond, over and above, of which Paul is fond. Of twenty - eight words compounded with this preposition in the New Testament, Paul alone uses twenty. For the order and construction, see next note.

Above all [υπερ παντα] . These words should not be connected with that, as A. V. and Rev. : "above all that we ask," etc. They form with do an independent clause. The next clause begins with exceedingly above, and is construed with w=n that which we ask, etc. Read the whole, "Unto Him who is able to do beyond all, exceedingly above that which," etc.

Verse 21

Glory. Properly, the glory, which is His due.

In the Church. Through which His many - tinted wisdom is to be displayed, and which is His fullness. The variety of the divine wisdom is again hinted at in all that we ask or think.

By Christ Jesus [εν] . Rev., better, in. As the Church is the outward domain in which God is to be praised, so Christ is the spiritual sphere of this praise.

Throughout all ages, world without end [εις πασας τας γενεας του αιωνος των αιωνων] . Lit., unto all the generations of the age of the ages. Eternity is made up of ages, and ages of generations.

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Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Ephesians 3". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/vnt/ephesians-3.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.