THE BOOK OF EPHESIANS
Chapter
3:1-5
"Why You Have It - The Mystery of the Church Revealed" - Introduction

J. Deering, AncientPath.net


 

TEXT TOPIC
(3:1)
For this reason
"What You Have"
The Triune Blessing
Paul's Prayer List
The Workings of God's Might
Salvation and
Unity
    I, Paul,
        the prisoner of Christ Jesus
Prisoner / Bond Servant / Bond Slave
           for the sake of you Gentiles -- This Was Brought About for Your Sakes
(3:2)
Since you have already heard about
the administration
Galatians
    of God's grace
    that was given to me
        for you;
The Grace of God - Given for You
(3:3)
            that by revelation
He is a God who Reveals Himself
                there was made known to me
                    the mystery,
                    as I wrote before in brief.
THE MYSTERY
(3:4)
                And by referring to this,
                when you read (Lit., "to which, when you read")
                    you can understand my insight
The Story of Paul's Calling to the Ministry of the Gentiles
                      into (Lit., "in") the mystery of Christ, THE MYSTERY
(3:5)
                    which in other generations
                        was not made known to the sons of men,
Concealed in the Old Testament
Revealed in the New Testament
                    as it has now been revealed He is a God who Reveals Himself
                      to God's holy apostles and prophets
                      in (Or, "by") the Spirit;
The Work of the Holy Spirit through Called men

 

COMMENTARY - "Why You Have It - The Mystery of the Church Revealed" - Introduction, 3:1-5

A. Introduction to the "Mystery," 3:1-5

Ephesians 3:1
1For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—

Prepositions are our friends... Paul begins this section with "For this reason." The "For" introduces us to a continuing of the previous conversation with a following result. "I bought aspirin, for I had a headache.

Paul refers back to the "What You Have" part of the book. If we were to look back at that section we would find a list of five things. First, you have the blessing of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Second, you have the expectations that Paul indicated as he prayed for you. Third, you are the benefactor of the workings of God's might. Fourth, God has brought you Salvation in His Son. Fifth, God has brought you into a cross cultural unity where the believing people of the covenant are united with the believing people of the world.

Paul next introduces himself as "the prisoner of Christ Jesus." He considers himself "in-chains," (Gk desmois, in chains) as the prisoner of Christ Jesus. Paul considers himself to be absolutely under the mandate to bring testimony of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. He has no other choice but to follow this new vocation placed upon him by the Lord Jesus Himself. He is a "Prisoner of Christ Jesus." He is unable to follow his own path, chained to Him, he must follow the path of Jesus.

"For the sake of you Gentiles" is Paul's next phrase Paul uses. "For the sake of you Gentiles" would be better translated as "For the benefit of the Nations (Gk ethnos, nations). Why was Paul a chained prisoner of Christ Jesus? Because what he would say and do was for the direct benefit of all the peoples of the world.

We can't change the past, however we can conjecture about it. What if God did not call Paul, or someone like him, to explain the plan of God for the world - to the world. If they are to be included in the plan of God then they need to know that plan and the particulars concerning the available salvation and continuing personal righteous relationship with God that they can have through belief in the Son of God. Romans 10:14-15 brings clarity to this question,

"14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”"

But God did call Paul to institute this revelation concerning the "Mystery" of the Body of Christ - among the Gentiles.

Ephesians 3:2
if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you;

"If indeed," better translated as "Since indeed," for the testimony of Paul's calling, salvation, and ministry were well known by the readers of his letters. That's the very point of his saying this, his readers know fully well of the "stewardship," the burden of bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles. He speaks of it in every letter he writes, he obviously preached it everywhere he went. It is not that he was possessed with his own self-importance, but that he was bound to that message by "the chains of Christ Jesus."

"The grace which was given to me for you," is such a marvelous statement. How very much like our God, once you get to know Him, everything He gives to us is for giving away to others - that they might know Him. He is the God of revelation, He WANTS us to know Him and His plan - through His Son, by His Holy Spirit - in order to draw together a body of perfect unity in Christ Jesus - that we might be His possession forever.

Ephesians 3:3
This is New Information made known by the Revelation of God
3 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.

Jesus reveals His plan to Paul and equips him with the necessary information for carrying out that plan. Something entirely new is being revealed and Chooses Paul to begin this work. In order to institute a "new plan" of God a new period of time is introduced to the world. Like each of the divisions of time we have studied, it will begin with new revelation that will set-up and define it. Biblical scholars' sometimes us the word "dispensation" to describe these various time periods. I like the term "administration" as we are more familiar with our American government system of marking time on the grand scale using this same word. We mark our political time-line with presidential administrations - a four year period.

We've discussed various administrations in the Bible and each has an administrator (with the Jews, it is the High Priest), and a political system of government that cascades down to the ordinary people (much like our own government).

This new administration, spoken of by Paul, literally springs forth from the mouth of God, as it is largely unforeseen in the Old Testament. Evidences can be found there, but God had chosen not to fully reveal His plan for this future in His past administrations on earth. The motivation for this "springing forth" revelation is the very grace of God reaching out to the whole world with equality. God's special program for the nation of Israel has been set aside for this administration as He calls forth a "People for Himself."

Paul mentions that he has written of this mystery before and we can find that in 1 Corinthians 2:7-12

"7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; 9 but just as it is written,

“THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND WHICH HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM."

10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,"


Paul makes it clear that this new administration of time has not been introduced by God to fix some problem He had not foreseen. God's plan for all the ages has been formulated before the foundations of the world and all its creation. He has allowed glimpses of His plan, but has chosen to only fully reveal this age following His Son's work on the cross.

Ephesians 3:4
This New Information is Extensive and known by me
4 By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,

Paul anticipates the Ephesian concerns as they read his letter. I can almost hear the members of the Church at Ephesus, "Paul, How come you know so much about this new revelation about this new age?"

His answer (written before they asked) is concise and brilliant and in two parts. Part-1, go back and re-read my letter from the beginning and consider all the details - that you might know them (The word Paul uses for "when you read," uses the verb "to read aloud"). Part-2, Paul gives them this answer: "Because God revealed it to me!" Apparently the Ephesians would find Paul annoying when he could answer every question they dreamed up to ask about this new age. He pre-thinks them and includes answers before they ask.

Paul also brings clarity to this new gathering of "those who would believe," by calling them "The Mystery of Christ." This new age is not about us - it is about the Christ.


John 17:6-10
6 “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. 7 Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; 8 for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. 9 I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; 10 and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them.
 

Note: This would be a good time to reflect upon the nature of the two groups God has called-out in the Scriptures. The Jew, obstinate, stiff-necked, Idolatrous, and the Christian, keepers of God's word, appreciators of The Son of God, Believers in the word, Glorifier's of Jesus Christ.
 

Ephesians 3:5
Through Paul, and apart from Paul, God has revealed this age.
5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;

Each of the apostles were confronted, as Jews, with the revelation of The Body of Christ. Each had to wrestle with God's focus upon the Gentiles. Each had to come to the conclusion that God had called out a brand new assembly of people who would, of their own free will, choose Jesus the Christ as their own personal God. What a wonderful work of grace for God to take these very powerful men, and reveal this new age and its purposes to them. Each of them would receive God's revelation concerning this and recognize that this new Body of Christ was the Work of God.

VISUALIZED TEXT - "Why You Have It - The Mystery of the Church Revealed" - Introduction, 3:1-5

THE VISUALIZED TEXT (NASB) 1  (conjunctions & prepositions underlined, words not in original text in italics)  (alternate text in purple)

(3:1)
For this reason
    I, Paul,
        the prisoner of Christ Jesus
           for the sake of you Gentiles --
(3:2)
Since you have already heard about
the administration
    of God's grace
    that was given to me
        for you;
(3:3)
            that by revelation
                there was made known to me
                    the mystery,
                    as I wrote before in brief.
(3:4)
                And by referring to this,
                when you read (Lit., "to which, when you read")
                    you can understand my insight
                      into (Lit., "in") the mystery of Christ,
(3:5)
                    which in other generations
                        was not made known to the sons of men,
                    as it has now been revealed
                      to God's holy apostles and prophets
                      in (Or, "by") the Spirit;


1 "Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE,
Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968
1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1988.
Used by permission."


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