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Nave's Topical Bible - Assurance; Boldness; Faith; God; Prayer; Thompson Chain Reference - Access to God; Admission, Exclusion; Boldness; Prayer; The Topic Concordance - Boldness; Faith/faithfulness; Torrey's Topical Textbook - Access to God; Assurance; Boldness, Holy; Faith; Privileges of Saints; Trust;
In whom we have boldness - By whom we, Gentiles, have την παρῥησιαν, this liberty of speech; so that we may say any thing by prayer and supplication, and την προσαγωγην, this introduction, into the Divine presence by faith in Christ. It is only in his name we can pray to God, and it is only by him that we can come to God; none can give us an introduction but Christ Jesus, and it is only for his sake that God will either hear or save us. It is on the ground of such scriptures as these that we conclude all our prayers in the name, and for the sake, of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Ephesians 3:12". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/ephesians-3.html. 1832.
God's wisdom and love displayed (3:1-21)
It was because Paul had taken the gospel to the Gentiles that he was imprisoned in the first place (Acts 21:27-36). Yet he feels humbled to think that God should graciously choose him for such a noble work (3:1-2). As a Jew he was once proud of his belief that only Jews were God's people. Even if some of the 'far off' Gentiles believed in God, they were still not God's covenant people in the sense that Jews were. Now God's special revelation shows Paul clearly that no longer is this so. Jewish and Gentile believers are united in one body, the church, and as God's people they share equally in all God's blessings (3-6).
Paul believes that only by God's grace could one as unworthy as he be given the work of taking the gospel to the Gentiles. He believes also that only by God's power will he be fruitful in that work (7-8). God's plan of uniting all believers in one church in and through Christ displays to people and to angels his great wisdom (9-11). This encourages Christians in their everyday lives, for if God is so wise and powerful, they know that they can enter into his presence at all times without fear or doubt. They therefore should not be discouraged, as some in Ephesus were when they heard that their apostle was in prison (12-13).
The one to whom Paul prays is the Father of all who believe, whether Jews or Gentiles. This one is the true Father. Everything in the universe has its origin in him. Even earthly fathers and their families exist only because there is a heavenly Father and his family (14-15).
Paul asks this heavenly Father that those who are his children might be strengthened inwardly through allowing the Spirit of Christ within them to control them. As they understand more of Christ's love, they will grow to be more like him in their lives (16-19). They should not think that this goal is too high to reach, for God is able to do far more than they think possible (20-21).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Ephesians 3:12". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/ephesians-3.html. 2005.
In whom we have boldness and access in confidence through our faith in him.
This verse mistranslates the last phrase which should follow the English Revised Version (1885) margin and read "through the faith of him," that is, through the faith of Christ, meaning the faith Christ himself possessed and demonstrated. Justification as accomplished, not by sinner's faith, but by the perfect faith and obedience of the Son of God is a subject that has been treated somewhat in depth in the commentaries on Romans and also in Galatians, to which reference is made for those wishing to pursue the subject further. See under Galatians 2:16, in this volume. There is no justification whatever for rendering this verse "through our faith in him." The Greek New Testament says no such thing. See in my Commentary on Romans, Romans 3:22ff. Taylor, Wesley, MacKnight and many others, along with the KJV, testify to the correct translation as "faith of him," despite the fact that some who admit the true rendition still manage to deny the meaning of it!
In whom we have boldness ... Like many other passages in the Pauline writings, this corresponds very closely to the book of Hebrews (Hebrews 4:16). Christian boldness is revealed as being at least partially the responsibility of the Christian himself to maintain it, encourage it in others, and to manifest it openly in all places and circumstances. It is the spiritual equivalent of the confidence displayed by a good athlete who "talks up a good game" with his teammates, manifesting at all times a winning attitude.
Access ... This is Paul's word for the privilege of approaching God in prayer, of coming boldly to the throne of grace, of possessing the right to petition the Father in one's own person through identity with the Lord Jesus Christ and needing no go-between, mediator, priest or any other person whomsoever as any kind of dispenser of spiritual privilege, or even as an aid in such things. Christians are priests unto God in Christ Jesus who is the "one mediator"; and no other mediators are needed. Not the name of any saint, nor the use of any religious device, nor the requirement of any human creed can circumvent or countermand this fundamental right of the redeemed in Christ, who without any qualification whatever have "access with boldness" unto God "in Christ Jesus." Is this through their own faith in Christ? NO, but by reason of the perfect faith and obedience of Christ, and in the meaningful sense, actually Christ, as being a part of his spiritual body.
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Ephesians 3:12". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/ephesians-3.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
We have boldness - The word used here - παῤῥησίαν parrēsian- means, properly, boldness of speaking; 2 Corinthians 7:4; John 7:26; Acts 4:13, Acts 4:29, Acts 4:31. Here it seems to mean “freedom of utterance;” and the idea is, that we may come to God now in prayer with confidence through the Lord Jesus; see Hebrews 4:16. And access - see notes Ephesians 2:18. By the faith of him - By faith in him. The sense is, that we may now come confidently and boldly to the throne of grace for mercy in the name of the Redeemer. Boldness is not rashness; and faith is not presumption; but we may come without hesitating, and with an assurance that our prayers will be heard.
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Ephesians 3:12". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/ephesians-3.html. 1870.
And access - see notes Ephesians 2:18.
By the faith of him - By faith in him. The sense is, that we may now come confidently and boldly to the throne of grace for mercy in the name of the Redeemer. Boldness is not rashness; and faith is not presumption; but we may come without hesitating, and with an assurance that our prayers will be heard.
12.Through whom we have boldness. The honor of reconciling the Father to the whole world must be given to Christ. From the effects of this grace its excellence is demonstrated; for faith, which is possessed by Gentiles in common with Jews, admits them into the presence of God. When the words, through Christ and by the faith of him, are used by Paul, in connection with the name of God, there is always an implied contrast, which shuts up every other approach, — which excludes every other method of obtaining Divine fellowship. Most important and valuable instruction is here conveyed. The true nature and power of faith, and the confidence which is necessary for calling upon God, are beautifully expressed. That the consequences of faith, and the duties which it performs, should be the subject of much controversy between us and the Papists, is not surprising. They do not properly understand the meaning of the word Faith, which they might learn from this passage, if they were not blinded by prejudice.
First, Paul denominates it the faith of Christ; by which he intimates, that everything which faith ought to contemplate is exhibited to us in Christ. Hence it follows, that an empty and confused knowledge of Christ must not be mistaken for Faith, but that knowledge which is directed to Christ, in order to seek God in Christ; and this can only be done when the power and offices of Christ are understood.Faith producesconfidence, which again, in its turn, produces boldness. There are three stages in our progress. First, we believe the promises of God; next, by relying on them, we obtain that confidence, which is accompanied by holiness and peace of mind; and, last of all, comes boldness, which enables us to banish fear, and to come with firmness and steadiness into the presence of God.
To separate faith from confidence would be an attempt to take away heat and light from the sun. I acknowledge, indeed, that, in proportion to the measure of faith, confidence is small in some and greater in others; but faith will never be found unaccompanied by these effects or fruits. A trembling, hesitating, doubting conscience, will always be a sure evidence of unbelief; but a firm, steady faith, will prove to be invincible against the gates of hell. To trust in Christ as Mediator, and to entertain a firm conviction of our heavenly Father’s love, — to venture boldly to promise to ourselves eternal life, and not to tremble at death or hell, — is, to use a common phrase, a holy presumption.
Observe the expression, access with confidence. Wicked men seek rest in forgetfulness of God, and are never at ease but when they remove to the greatest possible distance from God. His own children differ from them in this respect, that they “have peace with God,” (Romans 5:1,) and approach to him with cheerfulness and delight. We infer, likewise, from this passage, that, in order to call on God in a proper manner, confidence is necessary, and thus becomes the key that opens to us the gate of heaven. Those who doubt and hesitate will never be heard.
“Let him ask in faith,” says James, “nothing wavering: for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.” (James 1:6)
The sophists of the Sorbonne, (133) when they enjoin men to hesitate, know not what it is to call upon God.
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Ephesians 3:12". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/ephesians-3.html. 1840-57.
Let"s turn to the third chapter of Ephesians.
For this cause [Paul said] I, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles ( Ephesians 3:1 ),
It is interesting that Paul was actually a prisoner of Rome, but as far as he was concerned, he was a prisoner of Jesus Christ, that is the one he was really bound to. "A prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles." The reason why Paul was persecuted and the reason why Paul was in prison is because he was insisting that the Gentiles could be saved by their believing in Jesus Christ, and this upset the Jews, who felt that the Gentiles could only be saved by becoming Jews.
Thus, a Gentile could not be saved, only Jews could be saved and a Gentile had to become a Jew in order to be saved. So Paul"s insistence that God is now offering salvation to the Gentiles so incurred the wrath of the Jews that they persecuted him or stirred up persecution everywhere he went. So that the imprisonments were the result of this basic teaching of Paul that you Gentiles can have salvation. So, "a prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles."
Paul said, "If I didn"t preach this then the persecution would cease. They wouldn"t have anything against me anymore." But Paul stood by that message of God"s grace that had been given to him.
If you have heard [he said] of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given to me for you ( Ephesians 3:2 ):
Now, there are those who see seven dispensations. They see the dispensation of innocence, when God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden and God relating to man there in the garden in man"s innocence. Then they see the second dispensation, (I forget what they call it), but it is from the time of Adam"s sin unto the time of Noah, in which they see the third dispensation of the government of God which lasted until the time of the law, which they see the fourth dispensation of the law. And the fifth dispensation of Jesus here; the sixth dispensation, the dispensation of grace; the seventh dispensation, the millennial reign.
Paul is talking about the dispensation of grace, man has divided it up into those categories. I don"t know that God has. I think that man does a lot of things that God doesn"t necessarily endorse, even theologians.
We are living in an age in which God relates to we Gentiles by His grace. It is a dispensation of grace given to us.
How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I already had written about in few words ( Ephesians 3:3 );
Now, in chapter1Paul speaks of this mystery of His will, that in the dispensation of the fullness of time He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on the earth, even in Him. This mystery that God has chosen that all things should be bound up in Jesus Christ; things which are in heaven, things which are on the earth. God has brought all things in subjection unto Him, will put all things in subjection.
Paul said, I wrote a little bit about this mystery already,
Whereby, when you read, you may have an understanding of my knowledge in the mystery of Christ,) which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit ( Ephesians 3:4-5 );
That is, this open door for the Gentiles to receive salvation is something that the Old Testament prophets did not foresee. This age of the church is something that was not seen by the Old Testament prophets. They felt that the coming of Christ would bring the immediate kingdom of God. They figured that the Messiah would usher in the kingdom age immediately and the Old Testament prophets did not really see this age of grace, when God would be drawing from among the Gentiles the body of Christ.
They really didn"t understand all that they saw or all that God revealed to them. They really wrote of things that they did not completely understand. But they wrote as the Holy Spirit inspired them. And thus, they themselves did not know the things that they were writing about or what their full significance was.
Isaiah speaks of the coming Messiah, how that He will sit upon the throne of David and order it and establish it in righteousness and in judgment from henceforth even forever, the zeal of the Lord of Host shall perform this. And yet, Isaiah said that God"s righteous servant would be despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, and we hid as it were our faces from Him. But He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to our own way, and God laid on Him the iniquity of us all. And how He would be numbered with the transgressors in His death. And so he wrote of these things not really understanding the apparent inconsistency of the things that he wrote.
Daniel, in prophesying the day that the Messiah would come, declared, and the Messiah will be cut off, and receive nothing for Himself, and the Jews will be dispersed.
Yet, there did remain that mental attitude that the Messiah is going to set up His kingdom, and it was very prevalent even among the disciples. They were constantly looking for the immediacy of the kingdom of God. When Jesus, after His resurrection, gave the promise of the Holy Spirit to come upon them in a few days, they said, "Lord, will this be the time when You restore the kingdom to Israel? Is this it, Lord?" They were constantly looking for the kingdom to be established immediately. They did not know that there was going to be this period of the dispensation of grace, where God would be reaching out to the Gentiles to draw out from the Gentiles the body of Christ, the church of Jesus Christ. Draw out, actually, from the world, because it was to include both Jews and Gentiles and make them one. The wall that had existed between them is going to be broken down and they are all going to become one body in Christ.
When Paul speaks of it as a mystery, he means not something that is like we think of mysteries today, difficult to solve. It is something that had not been revealed in the past, but God is now revealing and making known. So it is a new revelation from God. This place of the Gentiles in the body of Christ and how that God was going to offer freely unto the Gentiles the glorious promises of eternal life and of salvation and of a place in the kingdom of God.
Paul said, "I want to write this to you so that you will understand my understanding of the mystery which in other ages was not made known, but it is know revealed by the Holy Spirit to the apostles and to the prophets. This is the mystery:"
That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ by the gospel ( Ephesians 3:6 ):
The glorious mystery of God now revealed. You Gentiles can have salvation, can have the promise of eternal life, can have the hope of the kingdom of God. You become a partaker in the grace and in the goodness of God. "Whereof [Paul said] I was made a minister, according the gift of the grace of God that was given to me by the effectual working of his power."
So God laid upon me the ministry of sharing this glorious mystery--God"s grace to the Gentiles.
Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ ( Ephesians 3:7-8 );
"What a privilege," Paul said, "is given unto me the less of the least of all saints." Paul"s opinion of himself, this is the opinion of a man who has truly been called of God and really had a confirmation with Jesus Christ.
When I see the way some people strut as they preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, my conclusion is that they really haven"t had a personal confrontation with Him. If I have the attitude, "Lord, You are so lucky that You have me proclaiming Your truths. You don"t know how fortunate You are, God. I could have been famous and I could have been great. I gave up fame and fortune. I am worth a lot to You, Lord." Those testimonies of what people have given up for Jesus Christ really don"t move me. What I could have been doesn"t really touch me.
Paul"s attitude toward himself, "Wow, God has given me this glorious ministry, the lessor than the least of all of the saints. The privilege given that I should be able to share the unsearchable riches of Christ, impart them unto the Gentiles."
Paul felt that because of his previous persecution of the church, his endeavor to waste it, that anything that God did for him was through grace and he was really always, I think, sort of haunted by the fact that he was so blind at one time that he was trying to destroy the church. He makes mention of this, "for I wasted the church of God." Here his attitude, less than the least of all of the saints. But God has chosen
that all men may see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hidden in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ ( Ephesians 3:9 ):
Now, you notice that all that God has done for us is by Jesus Christ as we have been going through these first two chapters on into the third chapter. Anything and everything that God has done for you He has done in and through and by Jesus Christ. These glorious mysteries hid from the Old Testament prophets now revealed through the prophets and the apostles in the New Testament, these marvelous riches of Christ that are available to all men.
To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God ( Ephesians 3:10 ),
You remember Peter writing of these things said, "Which things the angels even desire to look into." ( 1 Peter 1:12 ). You see, angels are not omniscient as is God. They do not know the full purposes or the plan of God. I am sure that they have interesting sessions and discussions as they see the purposes of God being unfolded. Now, the angels did have a better grasp of prophecy than did man. When God would reveal the things through the prophets, they did have a grasp of these things. But not a full understanding. It took the working out of the plan for them to come into a full understanding.
Peter in writing of these things said, "We have the more sure word of prophecy" ( 2 Peter 1:19 ). "He showed Himself alive by many infallible proofs" ( Acts 1:3 ), but we have the more sure word of prophecy and so forth, which things the angels desired to look into. Paul said, "That the principalities and powers, which are the angels, that they might know by what is happening in the church, the manifold wisdom of God."
I would imagine that it is a very shocking and awesome thing to the angels that God decided to come and indwell man. That God would actually come and dwell within man. This is that glorious mystery that God actually will indwell you by His Spirit through Jesus Christ.
My body can become the temple of the Holy Spirit, that Christ dwelling in me is my hope of glory. This marvelous mystery. The angels said, "Wow, can you believe that?" It is revealed, God didn"t reveal it to them, except, as it took place within the church.
According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord ( Ephesians 3:11 ):
That was God"s plan from the beginning.
In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him ( Ephesians 3:12 ).
In chapter1it says we have been accepted in the beloved. God accepts me. Now it says we have access unto God. That was, of course, something that was withheld even from the Jew. They did not have access to God. They came to God through the priest. He would enter into the presence of God for them. When God gave the law to Moses, He said, "Cordon off the mount. Don"t let man come close, lest he be destroyed." Moses went up and communed with God. When the people saw the awesome phenomena of the presence of God, they fled, and they said to Moses, "You go up and talk to Him and you come down and tell us what He said, but we don"t want to get near. That is awesome the fire rolling around the ground, the thunder and all of these things. And you go up and we will listen to you, and we will take what you tell us that God says, but we don"t want to approach that."
And as God established the law, then it was the high priest who went into the Holy of Holies before God for the people and that was only once in a year, one day in a year. But now we have access to God. There is no veil any longer to hold you out.
It was extremely significant that at the crucifixion of Jesus the veil was rent or torn from top to the bottom and God was just now saying through Jesus Christ you can all come. You have access to God. In Hebrews it says, "that we may come boldly before the throne of grace to make our petitions known." Through Jesus Christ we were once alienated from God and could not approach Him, and now have been brought close, been brought nigh, access to God. And then here again, boldness and access, as in Hebrews, "come boldly to the throne of grace."
That timidity that some people display, "Oh, I really don"t think that I am worthy to come to God. I will just go to one of the saints and ask him to go to God for me," is unscriptural and it"s wrong. When God opens the door and says, "Come on in," it is wrong for you to hold back. We come boldly. We have access, boldness and access, confidence by the faith of Him.
Wherefore [Paul said] I desire that you faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory ( Ephesians 3:13 ).
Paul had gone through so much to bring them this message. The prisoner, beaten, scourged, buffeted, stoned. "Don"t faint at my tribulations, because it is all for your glory."
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ( Ephesians 3:14 ),
So Paul"s prayer for them, the attitude in prayer, physical, of bowing his knee, but there are many attitudes for prayer physically. It isn"t really the physical position that counts when I come to God; it is the position of my heart. "He that comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him" ( Hebrews 11:6 ).
So the people who have a hang up, "you"re not really praying unless you are on your knees," is not really a scriptural hang up, it is just their own hang up. The scripture talks about standing, lifting holy hands in prayer. David lying with his face in the dirt crying unto God. Many places they are lying prostrate before the Lord. So sitting, lying, kneeling, standing, that is not what counts, but what is the position of your heart as you come to God.
"I bow my knees unto the Father." Prayer is unto the Father, our Father, which art in heaven. Whatsoever things you ask the Father, that will I do that the Father may be glorified in the Son. The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you [Paul"s prayer for them], according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man ( Ephesians 3:15-16 );
How we need strength in our inner man. Satan is constantly setting before us temptations. He is a powerful foe. I do not have the strength within myself to stand against him, I need God"s strength by His Spirit in my inner man if I am to stand before the power of the enemy. Paul prays that you might be strengthened in the inner man by His Spirit.
That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith ( Ephesians 3:17 );
The word dwell in the Greek is to settle down and to make himself at home, that Christ might really be at home, be comfortable, be at ease. There are places where you go and you feel out of place the moment you are there. You feel uncomfortable, you wish you had not come, you are not in harmony with what is going on. Then there are other places where you go and you feel so comfortable, so at ease, so relaxed.
Now, "that Christ might be at home in your hearts" means that your heart might be so in tune and all with Him that as He dwells within your heart there is no strain, there is no embarrassment for Him.
You remember how that Ezekiel, that interesting prophet, how God dealt with him in many strange ways, was taken by the Spirit to Jerusalem. There was this wall there and God said, "Dig a hole through the wall," and he dug a hole through the wall and crawled in. And he looked and here was all kinds of pornography all over the walls. Ezekiel said, "That is horrible, filthy pornography. What"s that all about?" God said, "I have allowed you to go within the minds of the leaders of Israel. These are the things that they are thinking, these are the things they are seeing."
When Christ dwells within your heart and looks on the walls, is He at home, is He comfortable with what He sees? Or when He knocks on the door, do we say, "Wait a minute," and we go around and try to cover everything, or turn things around backwards?
"That Christ may be at home in your hearts by faith;"
that you might be rooted and grounded in love ( Ephesians 3:17 ),
Oh that we would experience more of that love of God and the love of Jesus Christ and that it might really flow forth from our lives. Rooted and grounded in love.
That you may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and the length, and the depth, and the height; and to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge ( Ephesians 3:18-19 ),
Here is an interesting request, because how can you know something that passes knowledge? The word know is ginosko, which is know by experience.
Now his prayer: "God loves you so much, I pray that you might know the depths of Gods love for you, the length of God"s love, the height of God"s love. If you could only fathom the depths, if you could only explore the heights, if you could only see the length, to the length to which God was willing to go to save you. The depths to which Jesus was willing to come in order to redeem you. The heights to which God intends to bring you. That He might seat you together with Christ in heavenly places and make you a joint heir with Christ of His eternal kingdom. Oh the heights of the glory that God has for you. If you could only know," Paul said, "comprehend that which is beyond knowledge. Hey, you cannot know it, it is beyond knowledge."
The next request,
that you might be filled with the fullness of God ( Ephesians 3:19 ).
Now, again, that is something that in the physical is impossible. That I could be filled with the fullness of God. The heavens of heavens cannot contain God. How much less me? That I might be filled with the fullness of God. Now, realizing that he has asked some pretty tough things, he says,
Now unto him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think ( Ephesians 3:20 ),
How many times I think that we limit God by our own limitations. We carry our own limitations over into the spiritual realm. We are prone to place things in categories: that is very easy, that is simple, no problem, oh that is pretty tough, that one is difficult. Hey, that is impossible. We are prone to carry these over to God, and it reflects even many times in our attitude of prayer, "Lord, this is a simple thing. You can handle this one. Lord, this is pretty tough. I really don"t know. Forget it, Lord. It is impossible." We are prone to carry over unto God those human feelings that we have concerning situations. How many times God has done things that I thought were totally impossible, things that I had given up on. People that I had said, "Hey, no way." Then what does God do? Turns around and saves them. I can"t believe it.
Jonathan, waking up early in the morning, his mind playing with an interesting thought. "I wonder if God wants to deliver the Philistines to Israel today. If God wants to deliver the Philistines to Israel today, He doesn"t need a whole army. If God wants to do it, He could deliver them into the hands of one man just as easy as He could the whole army. I wonder if He wants to deliver them today?" This crazy thought running through his brain, he can"t get it out of his head. And so he wakes up his armor bearer and he says, "I"m having a crazy thought. You know, I was thinking, if God wants to deliver the Philistines to Israel He doesn"t need the whole army, after all He is God. He could deliver the Philistines to Israel to just one man, just as easily as a whole army. Let"s go over and see if God wants to deliver the Philistines this morning." I love it, let"s see what God might want to do, let"s venture out in faith. Who knows what God might want to do? He doesn"t need a whole army. We measure things by our abilities. "Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think."
We oftentimes are intimidated by certain diseases, by certain illnesses, because they have been diagnosed by man as incurable. Thus, we have a different prayer for Leukemia than we do earaches, or headaches. "Lord, he has got a headache, relieve him, Lord, help him to really be able to function today. Thank you, Lord." No problem. If God doesn"t come through, take an aspirin.
"Leukemia, No! Oh, God, help! God, oh Lord God of heaven." Man leukemia, you have got to really pray for that. You have . . . it takes really getting worked up into that one. That"s tough. Hey, it is no more difficult for God to heal leukemia than it is a common cold. God doesn"t have these categories of difficult or easy or impossible. They don"t exist with God. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly, and we need to remember this when we pray. We need in prayer to be freed from our human limitations and this idea of difficulty.
"Now unto Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think." God can provide a million dollars for you just as easy as He can provide five cents. He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that you ask or think. Why do we limit Him? "Lord, I need a nickel." So I start looking around the ground. It shouldn"t be too hard to find a nickel. Flip the coin boxes in the telephones.
Paul as he prays, prays with that awareness, that confidence that God is able. We need to have that confidence when we pray.
Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end ( Ephesians 3:21 ).
This beautiful little benediction that he tacks onto his prayer. Glory in the church, by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end, and so shall it be. So shall it be.
World without end, we will bring glory and praise unto God because of His grace towards us through Jesus Christ. In heaven we will be much the same things we are doing on the earth, as we are just giving thanks unto God for His mercy and grace to us, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
So many people are looking for heaven to bring so many radical changes in their lives. But you see, God wants to make those radical changes right now so that heaven will not be a shocking kind of a transition for you. God is working in us now. Those eternal things as He is preparing us for the eternal kingdom. They are not going to be as radical a change as you think. God wants it to be a smooth transition. It would be glorious to be in heaven for an hour or two before you realized you were there. To walk so close to the Lord, to live in such communion with Him, to walk so in His presence and in His love and all. Hey, wait a minute. Something is different here. Where am I? Wow!
Oh, God help us to so walk with Jesus in close communion. "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ephesians 3:12". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/ephesians-3.html. 2014.
2. Past ignorance3:1-13
Paul began to pray for his readers again (cf. Ephesians 3:1; Ephesians 3:14), but he interrupted himself to tell them more about the church. What he said in this section gives background information concerning the church as a mystery.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ephesians 3:12". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/ephesians-3.html. 2012.
Jesus Christ"s past work has an abiding present effect for believers today. Because of His work we now enjoy the rights of address and access to God. We can address God and approach Him confidently because our Savior"s work has brought us to God (cf. Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 10:19; Hebrews 10:35; Ephesians 2:8; Romans 5:2).
"Forgiven sinners do not come to God hesitantly, wondering about their likely reception. They rest not on their own achievement but on what Christ has done for them, and for that reason they come full of confidence." [Note: Morris, p97.]
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Ephesians 3:12". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/ephesians-3.html. 2012.
In whom we have boldness and access,.... Into the holy of holies, to the throne of grace there, and to God the Father, as seated on it: Christ is the way of access; union to him gives right of access; through his mediation his people have audience of God, and acceptance with him, both of person and service: and this access is with boldness; which denotes liberty of coming, granted by God, and a liberty in their own souls to speak out their minds plainly and freely; and an holy courage and intrepidity of soul, being free from servile fear, or a spirit of bondage; which is owing to the heart being sprinkled from an evil conscience, to an act of faith, on the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ, and to a view of God, as a God of peace, grace and mercy: and this access may be had
with confidence by the faith of him; with confidence of interest in the everlasting love of God; of relation to him, as a covenant God and Father; of his power, faithfulness, and willingness to fulfil his promises; of his hearing and answering prayer; of the fulness of Christ, the prevalence of his mediation, and of the acceptance of persons and performances through him; and of the work of grace being carried on till the day of Christ; and of entrance at last into the heavenly glory: and this access is not local but spiritual; it is by faith, and so is peculiar to believers; and the confidence with which it may be had, arises from its being by the faith of Christ; not that faith which Christ himself had, and exercised as man, but that of which he is both the object and author; or that by which souls believe in him for acceptance, for righteousness, for pardon, for every supply of grace, and for eternal life and happiness.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Ephesians 3:12". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/ephesians-3.html. 1999.
From verses6 through13, we have the purpose of the mystery. What was the purpose of the Lord's starting a church made up of Jews and Gentiles, individuals, something of which Paul was made a special minister?
Now you'll notice in verse6, that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs.
Ephesians 3:6. That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
Ephesians 3:7. Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
Ephesians 3:9. And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
Ephesians 3:10. To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
Ephesians 3:11. According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Now, here we are dealing with the eternal purpose of God. God wants us to see that His eternal purpose is in the church. What was the purpose of the mystery? To show forth the manifold wisdom of God.
You and I, for the most part, are concerned about those who live on the earth. We belong to the human family on this little planet called the earth. Now, there's no question that the scriptures teach us that there are millions of holy angels and also teach us that there are myriads of demons following Satan, the arch enemy of our souls. And the scripture speaks of principalities and powers and authorities in the heavenlies. There is no question that there are myriads of created intelligences throughout God's universe.
I question whether the earth is the only place where you have intelligence or that the earth is the only place where we have any created beings. I am not talking about human beings here. But the earth is being used by God to show forth aspects of His character, of His heart, so that the whole universe will know something of the grace of God and the wisdom of God.
For example, go back in chapter2, verse6 and listen to what it says. He has taken Jews and Gentiles who believe in His Son and has raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. What for? Now, mark this7th verse, "That in the ages to come (in the eternal ages ahead of us) he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus."
Did you ever stop to think that the believer in Christ through eternal ages is going to be the demonstrator of the grace of God? That the only way whereby angels and principalities and powers may know of the grace of God is through you and me? And do you know that even today, as Paul says in1Corinthians, we are made a spectacle on the world stage? God is making known through you and through me, Christian friend, the riches of His grace.
Do you think that just because nobody sees your life down here that you are not seen? I question if we Christians realize, if it could ever get a hold of us, that there's a great multitude of unseen powers that see everything you do and hear everything you say. The revelation of His grace, the manifestation of His love, His mercy, His compassion are to be revealed through every individual Christian. In the ages to come we're going to be demonstrators of the grace of God. God through you is going to show forth the exceeding riches of His grace.
Now you come to chapter.
Ephesians 3:10. Τo the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by (or through) the church the manifold wisdom of God.
Not only are you to display the grace of God, but the very wisdom of God is going to be made known through you and through me. It is beyond our comprehension, isn't it?
"Do you mean to tell me, Sirach, that when I came as a sinner and accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour, and that when He gave me life eternal and He forgave me my sins and made me His child and put me into the church, the body of Christ, that I'm to be an instrument in God's hand through eternity for the instruction of all the great multitude of personalities in the universe?"
Through you and me He's going to make known His grace and His wisdom. That's exactly what He is saying.
Oh, listen, friend, you're never alone; you're never alone. Your words, your actions, your attitude, your life are being seen. Are we going to bring disgrace and reproach upon the name of Christ by the way we live? As Paul could say, "We are a sight, we are an object, we are the actors on the stage before angels, before men, before demons to display the grace of God, the love of God, the wisdom of God.
I can't plumb the depths of the wisdom of God—why He should save a man like me and why He should save you. I don't understand this wonderful, divine wisdom. But I do know one thing He's revealed to us in His word. He wants you and me to know His purpose that He saves men and women to show forth His grace and to show forth His wisdom in the countless ages of eternity.
Believe me, my Christian friend, in the purpose of God we're somebody. He's going to make us somebody where the very holy angels will be your servants. I'm not making this up. I'm not becoming fanciful. This is what the Book says—that in the ages to come He will show forth the riches of His grace.
In the ages to come He's going to show forth His wisdom through the church of Christ, through you and through me as individual members of the body of Christ.
Will you walk today, will you live today with this truth gripping your heart? We have a tremendous place in the purpose of God. We belong to Jesus Christ, and through us God has been pleased to display His grace and His wisdom.
This question of the building of a church made up of individual Jews and Gentiles was purposed by God way back in eternity and is now being made manifest to us through the Apostle Paul here in the book of Ephesians. Now as you think of this, of the church, it had a tremendous effect upon Paul. And I wish sometimes it may have the same effect upon you and me. It so transformed this man Paul that he could say in the book of Colossians, I strive according to the working of Him who "worketh in me mightily." I'm quoting from Colossians 1:29.
What is the eternal purpose of God which He purposed in Christ? That through the work of Christ on the cross and the resurrection and exaltation, He might gather together individual Jews and Gentiles and make them a new company called the church of which Christ is the head. And that through this company of people He's going to show forth through eternity the wonders of His grace and the marvels of His wisdom.
Now such a thing had a tremendous effect, I say, upon the Apostle Paul. Let's look at how it affects him in :
Ephesians 3:7. Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
Ephesians 3:8. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
Ephesians 3:9. And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.
And you go down to verse12,
Ephesians 3:12. In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
Ephesians 3:13. Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
The effect upon this man Paul is tremendous. He was transformed, you remember, from a Jew to a Christian. This man was before a blasphemer; now he's a saint. Before, he was a Pharisee; now he's an apostle. Before, he was a persecutor; now he's a missionary. My, what a tremendous transformation in this man.
May I repeat it? When he saw the tremendous wisdom of God manifested in Jesus Christ and the provision for our salvation, and that we were to be the instruments through whom he would display His grace and His wisdom to every created intelligence in the universe throughout all countless ages, I'm not surprised at the tremendous effect upon this man. This is the man who was before a blasphemer and now he's a saint of God. This is the man who was a strict Pharisee, and now he's an apostle of the Lamb of God. This is the man who was a Jew, transformed into a Christian, fellowshiping with Gentiles. This is the man who before persecuted the people of God and now he's a missionary for God, carrying the message of the gospel of the grace of God to everybody. Oh, the effectual working of His power!
When I think of what Paul saw in the church of Christ, I'm sure that he reveled in these verses which he wrote to us, for example in, when he said, "We might know . . . what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places." And may I be allowed to quote again from Colossians 1:29, I strive according to the working of Him who "worketh in me mightily." And then you see the tremendous humility of the man in verse8,
Ephesians 3:8. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.
Mark the man's humility; he is "less than the least of all saints." In 1 Timothy 1:15, he could say, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." He called himself
"The chief of sinners," and "less than the least of all saints." And then you remember he speaks of it again when he said, "I am not meet to be called an apostle," in 1 Corinthians 15:9. I'm not even fit to be called an apostle, "because I persecuted the church of God."
I wonder, my friend, when you hear of the riches of the glory of His grace and the marvelous purpose of God in you and in me, what is the effect upon us? Does it make us proud or does it humble us? God grant it will humble us.
And the Apostle Paul could say in that same passage of 1 Corinthians 15:10, "By the grace of God I am what I am."
If it had not been for the grace of God in redeeming me, Mitchell, what in the world would I have been? Nobody knows where I would be. Because of this tremendous fact, God transforms us from blasphemers into missionaries. He transforms us into saints. He transforms us from those who were afar off and makes us nigh. He transforms children of wrath into the children of God.
We who were unrighteous He now declares to be righteous. We who were afar off, without hope, without Christ, without God, are now intimate members of the family of God. We are objects of the wonderful grace of God; and I can say what Paul could say, "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ."
Oh, the transforming power of the word of God, the transforming power of Christ. Will you do something for me? Will you take the first chapter, the second chapter, the third chapter, and take the verses where you find the word "riches"; "riches of grace," "riches of glory," "unsearchable riches of Christ," "riches of mercy."
Just read them through. In Ephesians 1:7, we have forgiveness according to the riches of His grace. In Ephesians 2:4, we have this question of the richness of His mercy. In Ephesians 3:7, we have "the exceeding riches of His grace;" in Ephesians 3:8, "the unsearchable riches of Christ;" in Ephesians 3:16, "according to the riches of His glory."
The verse that comes to my mind is Romans 11:33, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!"
I tell you, I can't understand it. I can't even begin to appreciate it. It's so marvelous; it's so wonderful; it's beyond all the capacity of the human person to understand the unsearchable riches of Christ.
My friend, it's going to take all eternity for us to begin to appreciate the riches of His grace, the riches of His mercy, the unsearchable riches of Christ, to enjoy the riches of His glory, the riches of His inheritance in the saints. "Riches!"
Please don't walk like paupers when we can enjoy the riches of God. I want you to revel today in the riches of His grace, the riches of His glory, the unsearchable riches of Jesus Christ, the riches of His mercy.
Oh, friends, God grant you and me an enlarged capacity to appreciate the wonderful love, mercy and grace of God. I tell you, it's beyond all human comprehension; and when Paul saw it, when Paul caught a glimpse of this marvelous church of Christ in which he was a member, in which you and I are members, it humbled him. But it transformed him.
Believer, revel in your Saviour. Oh, the depths—let us not live like paupers; let us live as those who are rich in Christ.
Now not only did this cause Paul to be filled with humility, but also it filled him with a boldness. Will you notice in,
Ephesians 3:12. In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
Notice the words he uses. Knowing something of God's eternal purpose, this gave him boldness; this gave him confidence. It gave him boldness to speak; it gave him access without fear; it gave him confidence and trust. I'm sure that angels, holy angels in the presence of God, must have been astounded, must have been amazed at such boldness. When a man could come into the very presence of a holy, mighty, sovereign God and come with a confidence, with a boldness to speak!
As far as I know angelic beings cannot come into God's presence unless bidden. As I've been telling you, my friend, in the church of Christ we've been brought into a relationship superior to holy angels who are our ministers.
Now, I do not want you to get the idea that we come into the presence of God with arrogance. I have heard Christians, and I say this very sadly, I have heard Christians talk about "Jesus" with a flippancy that is not the boldness of faith but the arrogance of the human nature. Can one who is redeemed, cleansed by the blood of Christ, a child of the living God, come into the presence of our holy, sovereign, mighty God with flippancy? With a lightness? With a shallowness that is so evident?
Paul here says, "We have boldness (and that word means boldness to speak) and access with confidence." Why? We're coming into our Father's presence.
As he could say in Romans 8:15, "We cry, Abba, Father."
You remember in 1 John 2:28, where John says, "And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear," we shall be bold to speak. We'll not be full of fear. We have access into the very presence of God. We have access through the blood of Christ. This is the ground upon which we can come, the ground of redemption. We come on the ground of relationship as the children of God. And we come bold to speak, not with the boldness of arrogance but the boldness of faith. We come knowing that we have a distinct place in the purpose of God, knowing that we are the objects of the love of our Father.
I'd like to suggest to you here, "In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him." You remember in Hebrews 4:16, Paul is saying to stumbling, weak believers, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." He says, "Come with boldness." Why? It's the throne of grace. We're not coming to a throne of judgment. If we were, we'd come with terrible fear. We'd be scared to come. But we're coming to the throne of grace. And the One who is seated upon that throne is full of the Spirit of grace.
Furthermore, He's our Father and we are in relationship with Him. So we come with confidence, with boldness to speak. We have our access. I say again, it must be a tremendous amazement for angels to see the boldness of God's people, the boldness of Paul. You remember, in the24th Psalm, and I think I am reverent when I say this in my own words, "Open up, ye everlasting doors and let the King of Glory come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord strong and mighty in battle; the Lord of hosts, He is the King of Glory." And, of course, this speaks of our Saviour in resurrection and exaltation.
But are we not accepted in the Beloved? Does God not see us in His Son? And because of our relationship to the Song of Solomon, because we're trusting in Him, we have access into His presence. Oh, I'd like to bring this before you that you and I might come today into the presence of God. This is why Paul could say in the next verse,
Ephesians 3:13. Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
"Don't worry about me," says Paul. "I can come into the very presence of my Father. My circumstances, though I'm in difficult circumstances and persecuted for the gospel's sake, don't sympathize with me," says Paul. "I've access into the very presence of my Father. I can come where angels fear to tread."
Oh, the confidence! Am I talking to some stumbling, weak, halting believer today? Listen, dear friend, are you down because of your failure? Because of your mistakes? Because of your frailty and weaknesses? May I encourage you to come to the throne of grace. You're coming to the Father; He understands. You are the object of His love, the object of His grace. Why don't you come and let Him meet your present need right now. And come with confidence. And when you come with confidence, you have all the mercy and all the grace that you need.
Open up your heart before Him. Remember, He's your loving Father. Remember, He's rich in mercy; and remember you are the object of His love and devotion. So come. If you've failed Him, tell Him all about it. Be very bold to speak and tell Him about your failures. And as you confess your sins, He will cleanse you. He will forgive you. He'll bring you back into His own fellowship. Oh, walk today in fellowship, in the intimacy of His fellowship.
My friend, I wish in some way by the Spirit of God through His word, I could bring to you just what Paul is talking about—being brought into the purpose of God. I again repeat that verse in Romans 11:33, "Oh, the depths of the riches, both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out, for who hath known the mind of the Lord God or who has been His counselor?" Nobody!
And to think that God should take you and me, creatures of the dust, we who at one time were sinners. To think that He should pick you and me up and not only redeem us, but bring us into this relationship, into this closeness with Himself whereby we're one with Him in His inheritance—children of the living God. We are one with Him in His purpose and can come at any time, having our access in Christ to the very throne of God.
I say again how much we Christians have robbed ourselves of blessing, of power, of usefulness because we get so occupied with ourselves in our own little world, our own little things and our own little programs. We have missed so much of God Himself. I fear that too many of us are more occupied with the service of Christ than we are with the person of Christ and more occupied with our own little program instead of being occupied with the great purposes of God. Let us revel in the fact that we're one with Him in that purpose.
Now, out of this great revelation of God to the Apostle Paul, comes this wonderful prayer for power, for strength, for fellowship.
Mitchell, John G. D.D. "Commentary on Ephesians 3:12". "Mitchell's Commentary on Selected New Testament Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jgm/ephesians-3.html.
|The Apostle's Sufferings Paul's Appointment as an Apostle Paul's Labours as an Apostle.||A. D. 61.|
1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit 6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ 9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: 12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. 13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
Here we have the account which Paul gives the Ephesians concerning himself, as he was appointed by God the apostle of the Gentiles.
I. We may observe that he acquaints them with the tribulations and sufferings which he endured in the discharge of that office, Ephesians 3:1. The first clause refers to the preceding chapter, and may be understood either of these two ways:-- 1. "For this cause,--for having preached the doctrine contained in the foregoing chapter, and for asserting that the great privileges of the gospel belong not only to the Jews, but to believing Gentiles also, though they are not circumcised,--for this I am now a prisoner, but a prisoner of Jesus Christ, as I suffer in his cause and for his sake, and continue his faithful servant and the object of his special protection and care, while I am thus suffering for him." Observe, Christ's servants, if they come to be prisoners, are his prisoners and he despises not his prisoners. He thinks never the worse of them for the bad character which the world gives them or the evil treatment that they met with in it. Paul adhered to Christ, and Christ owned him, when he was in prison.--For you, Gentiles the Jews persecuted and imprisoned him because he was the apostle of the Gentiles, and preached the gospel to them. We may learn hence that the faithful ministers of Christ are to dispense his sacred truths, however disagreeable they may be to some, and whatever they themselves may suffer for doing so. Or, 2. The words may be thus understood:--"For this cause,--since you are no more strangers and foreigners (as Ephesians 2:19), but are united to Christ, and admitted into communion with his church,--I Paul, who am the prisoner of Jesus Christ, pray that you may be enabled to act as becomes persons thus favoured by God, and made partakers of such privileges." To this purport you find him expressing himself in Ephesians 3:14, where, after the digression contained in the several verses intervening, he proceeds with what he began in the Ephesians 3:1. Observe, Those who have received grace and signal favours from God stand in need of prayer, that they may improve and advance, and continue to act as becomes them. And, seeing Paul while he was a prisoner employed himself in such prayers to God in behalf of the Ephesians, we should learn that no particular sufferings of our own should make us so solicitous about ourselves as to neglect the cases of others in our supplications and addresses to God. He speaks again of his sufferings: Wherefore I desire that you faint not at my tribulation for you, which is your glory, Ephesians 3:13. While he was in prison, he suffered much there and, though it was upon their account that he suffered, yet he would not have them discouraged nor dismayed at this, seeing God had done such great things for them by his ministry. What a tender concern was here for these Ephesians! The apostle seems to have been more solicitous lest they should be discouraged and faint upon his tribulations than about what he himself endured and, to prevent this, he tells them that his sufferings were their glory, and would be so far from being a real discouragement, if they duly considered the matter, that they ministered cause to them for glorying and for rejoicing, as this discovered the great esteem and regard which God bore to them, in that he not only sent his apostles to preach the gospel to them, but even to suffer for them, and to confirm the truths they delivered by the persecutions they underwent. Observe, Not only the faithful ministers of Christ themselves, but their people too, have some special cause for joy and glorying, when they suffer for the sake of dispensing the gospel.
II. The apostle informs them of God's appointing him to the office, and eminently fitting and qualifying him for it, by a special revelation that he made unto him. 1. God appointed him to the office: If you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God, which is given me to you-ward, Ephesians 3:2. They could not have heard of this, and therefore he does not design to speak doubtfully of this matter. Eige is sometimes an affirmative particle, and we may read it, Since you have heard, &c. He styles the gospel the grace of God here (as in other places) because it is the gift of divine grace to sinful men and all the gracious overtures that it makes, and the joyful tidings that it contains, proceed from the rich grace of God and it is also the great instrument in the hands of the Spirit by which God works grace in the souls of men. He speaks of the dispensation of this grace given to him he means as he was authorized and commissioned by God to dispense the doctrine of the gospel, which commission and authority were given to him chiefly for he service of the Gentiles: to you-ward. And again, speaking of the gospel, he says, Whereof I was made a minister, &c., Ephesians 3:7. Here he again asserts his authority. He was MADE a minister--he did not make himself such he took not to himself that honour--and he was made such according to the gift of the grace of God unto him. God supplied and furnished him for his work and in the performance of it suitably assisted him with all needful gifts and graces, both ordinary and extraordinary, and that by the effectual working of his power, in himself more especially, and also in great numbers of those to whom he preached, by which means his labours among them were successful. Observe, What God calls men to he fits them for, and does it with an almighty power. An effectual working of divine power attends the gifts of divine grace. 2. As God appointed him to the office, so he eminently qualified him for it, by a special revelation that he made unto him. He makes mention both of the mystery that was revealed and of the revelation of it. (1.) The mystery revealed is that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ, by the gospel (Ephesians 3:6) that is, that they should be joint-heirs with the believing Jews of the heavenly inheritance and that they should be members of the same mystical body, be received into the church of Christ, and be interested in the gospel-promises, as well as the Jews, and particularly in that great promise of the Spirit. And this in Christ, being united to Christ, in whom all the promises are yea and amen and by the gospel, that is, in the times of the gospel, as some understand it or, by the gospel preached to them, which is the great instrument and means by which God works faith in Christ, as others. This was the great truth revealed to the apostles, namely, that God would call the Gentiles to salvation by faith in Christ, and that without the works of the law. (2.) Of the revelation of this truth he speaks, Ephesians 3:3-5. Here we may observe that the coalition of Jews and Gentiles in the gospel church was a mystery, a great mystery, what was designed in the counsel of God before all worlds, but what could not be fully understood for many ages, till the accomplishment expounded the prophecies of it. It is called a mystery because the several circumstances and peculiarities of it (such as the time and manner and means by which it should be effected) were concealed and kept secret in God's own breast, till be an immediate revelation he made them known to his servant. See Acts 26:16-18. And it is called the mystery of Christ because it was revealed by him (Galatians 1:12), and because it relates so very much to him. Of this the apostle has given some hints afore, or a little before that is, in the preceding chapters. Whereby, when you read or, as those words may be read, unto which attending (and it is not enough for us barely to read the scriptures, unless we attend to them, and seriously consider and lay to heart what we read), you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ so as to perceive how God had fitted and qualified him to be an apostle to the Gentiles, which might be to them an evident token of his divine authority. This mystery, he says, in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit (Ephesians 3:5) that is, "It was not so fully and clearly discovered in the ages before Christ as it is now revealed unto the prophets of this age, the prophets of the New Testament, who are immediately inspired and taught by the Spirit." Let us observe, that the conversion of the Gentile world to the faith of Christ was an adorable mystery, and we ought to bless God for it. Who would have imagined that those who had been so long in the dark, and at so great a distance, would be enlightened with the marvellous light, and be made nigh? Let us learn hence not to despair of the worst, of the worst of persons, and the worst of nations. Nothing is too hard for divine grace to do: none so unworthy but God may please to confer great grace upon them. And how much are we ourselves interested in this affair not only as we live in a time in which the mystery is revealed, but particularly as we are a part of the nations which in times past were foreigners and strangers, and lived in gross idolatry but are now enlightened with the everlasting gospel, and partake of its promises!
III. The apostle informs them how he was employed in this office, and that with respect to the Gentiles, and to all men.
1. With respect to the Gentiles, he preached to them the unsearchable riches of Christ, Ephesians 3:8. Observe, in this verse, how humbly he speaks of himself, and how highly he speaks of Jesus Christ. (1.) How humbly he speaks of himself: I am less than the least of all saints. St. Paul, who was the chief of the apostles, calls himself less than the least of all saints: he means on account of his having been formerly a persecutor of the followers of Christ. He was, in his own esteem, as little as could be. What can be less than the least? To speak himself as little as could be, he speaks himself less than could be. Observe, Those whom God advances to honourable employments he humbles and makes low in their own eyes and, where God gives grace to be humble, there he gives all other grace. You may also observe in what a different manner the apostle speaks of himself and of his office. While he magnifies his office, he debases himself. Observe, A faithful minister of Christ may be very humble, and think very meanly of himself, even when he thinks and speaks very highly and honourably of his sacred function. (2.) How highly he speaks of Jesus Christ: The unsearchable riches of Christ. There is a mighty treasury of mercy, grace, and love, laid up in Christ Jesus, and that both for Jews and Gentiles. Or, the riches of the gospel are here spoken of as the riches of Christ: the riches which Christ purchased for, and bestows upon, all believers. And they are unsearchable riches, which we cannot find the bottom of, which human sagacity could never have discovered, and men could no otherwise attain to the knowledge of them but by revelation. Now it was the apostle's business and employment to preach these unsearchable riches of Christ among the Gentiles: and it was a favour he greatly valued, and looked upon it as an unspeakable honour to him: "Unto me is this grace given this special favour God has granted to such an unworthy creature as I am." And it is an unspeakable favour to the Gentile world that to them the unsearchable riches of Christ are preached. Though many remain poor, and are not enriched with these riches, yet it is a favour to have them preached among us, to have an offer of them made to us and, if we are not enriched with them, it is our own fault.
2. With respect to all men, Ephesians 3:9. His business and employment were to make all men see (to publish and make known to the whole world) what is the fellowship of the mystery (that the Gentiles who have hitherto been strangers to the church, shall be admitted into communion with it) which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God (kept secret in his purpose), who created all things by Jesus Christ: as John 1:3, All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made and therefore no wonder that he saves the Gentiles as well as the Jews for he is the common Creator of them both: and we may conclude that he is able to perform the work of their redemption, seeing he was able to accomplish the great work of creation. It is true that both the first creation, when God made all things out of nothing, and the new creation, whereby sinners are made new creatures by converting grace, are of God by Jesus Christ. The apostle adds, To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known, by the church, the manifold wisdom of God, Ephesians 3:10. This was one things, among others, which God had in his eye in revealing this mystery, that the good angels, who have a pre-eminence in governing the kingdoms and principalities of the world, and who are endued with great power to execute the will of God on this earth (though their ordinary residence is in heaven) may be informed, from what passes in the church and is done in and by it, of the manifold wisdom of God that is, of the great variety with which God wisely dispenses things, or of his wisdom manifested in the many ways and methods he takes in ordering his church in the several ages of it, and especially in receiving the Gentiles into it. The holy angels, who look into the mystery of our redemption by Christ, could not but take notice of this branch of that mystery, that among the Gentiles is preached the unsearchable riches of Christ. And this is according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord, Ephesians 3:11. Some translate the words kata prothesin ton aionon thus According to the fore-disposing of the ages which he made, &c. So Dr. Whitby, &c. "In the first of the ages," says this author, "his wisdom seeing fit to give the promise of a Saviour to a fallen Adam: in the second age to typify and represent him to the Jews in sacred persons, rites, and sacrifices: and in the age of the Messiah, or the last age, to reveal him to the Jews, and preach him to the Gentiles." Others understand it, according to our translation, of the eternal purpose which God purposed to execute in and through Jesus Christ, the whole of what he has done in the great affair of man's redemption being in pursuance of his eternal decree about that matter. The apostle, having mentioned our Lord Jesus Christ, subjoins concerning him, In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him (Ephesians 3:12) that is, "By (or through) whom we have liberty to open our minds freely to God, as to a Father, and a well-grounded persuasion of audience and of acceptance with him and this by means of the faith we have in him, as our great Mediator and Advocate." We may come with humble boldness to hear from God, knowing that the terror of the curse is done away and we may expect to hear from him good words and comfortable. We may have access with confidence to speak to God, knowing that we have such a Mediator between God and us, and such an Advocate with the Father.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Ephesians 3:12". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/ephesians-3.html. 1706.
the Sixth Week after Easter