1 Because of this, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ (Jesus) for you Gentiles -- 2 if, as I suppose, you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for your benefit, 3 (namely, that) the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly earlier. 4 When you read this you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to human beings in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, 6 that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and co-partners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

7 Of this I became a minister by the gift of God's grace that was granted me in accord with the exercise of his power. 8 To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light (for all) what is the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things, 10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the principalities and authorities in the heavens. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness of speech and confidence of access through faith in him. 13 So I ask you not to lose heart over my afflictions for you; this is your glory.

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, 17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

COMMENTS

General

  • Paul, as a prisoner for Christ, has considerable moral leverage as he asks his readers to live worthily of Christ (v.1). See also 4:1, and Philippians 1:27; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:5,11.
  • Verse 1 suddenly breaks off -- not to be continued until Paul has poured out his heart, his awestruck amazement at God's eternal plan.
  • The "mystery" mentioned in the opening paragraph is that the Gentiles are co-heirs with the Jews in the plan of God (v.6).
    • This was not a complete (obscure or inaccessible) mystery, since it was detailed in the promises to Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 12 etc) and underscored in the prophets (Isaiah 49, Zechariah 8, etc).
    • It was revealed in even greater depth or specificity to the NT apostles and prophets (see 2:20 and 4:11). Why? The Gentile expansion increased the people of God a hundredfold! (Am I exaggerating?  I think not.)
    • This is the special focus of Paul's ministry (v.7).
      • Peter especially reached out to the Jews, Paul to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:7).
      • Paul commenced his preaching in each city with a Jewish audience (Romans 1:16, and also his custom in Acts), but ended up ministering to the Gentiles.
      • For this he was especially equipped.
        • He was a native Greek speaker.
        • He was intimately familiar with Gentile culture (e.g. Acts 17).
        • He had the flexilibility to traverse the Gentile world.
          • As a single man.
          • With the necessary constitution for hardship, imprisonment, etc.
    • This mystery was to be made known to the spiritual beings (v.10)!
    • The Ephesians ought not to be overly anxious about Paul's persecutions(v.13). His ministry is going according to the plan of God.
  • "For this reason...." Finally Paul is able to complete his sentence! Paul worships God because of this awesome plan.
  • Paul also prays that his fellow Christians will be spiritually strengthened (v.16), so that they may comprehend the love of Christ -- which is for Jews and Gentiles alike.
    • The Holy Spirit gives us extra strength! This entails the ability to understand, although at times it also sustains us with physical power!
    • Spiritual strengthening is the same thing as Christ dwelling in our hearts (v.17).
    • The goal is that we will see what God sees, understand what he understands: that all creation is included in the grand redemptive plan!
    • The love of Christ completely surpasses knowledge (vv.18-19)!
  • The chapter closes with a doxology, or word of praise (glory).
    • God is to be praised, as he can do more than we can even imagine or request!
    • This glory is in the church and in Christ Jesus.
      • Notice the order. It is a grave error to "Say yes to Jesus, but no to the church." They go together.
      • "In all generations":
        • Generations past (esp. the O.T. times).
        • Generations future (however long the world may last).

Advanced

  • For more on the mystery of the Gentiles' being in the plan of God, listen to Foundations for Faith: Old Testament Survey. One entire lesson focuses on this important theme. To order, click here.
  • For more on the heavenly realms, click here.
  • V.15: "his whole family" (NIV), "every family" (NRS), "every fatherhood" (NJB) etc -- what does this refer to? Since Gentiles and Jews are members of the same family, it seems that Paul is emphasizing that God is the one who creates family. What else did Paul have in his mind?  I do now know.
  • "Is the church really the answer?", as one inquirer wrote in? Click here. What is a "successful" church? Click here.

Thought questions:

  • Am I familiar with the O.T. passages that reveal God's profound love for the Gentiles, and his plan to bless them? (This is a major biblical theme.)
  • Am I stronger (spiritually / phjysically) because of the Holy Spirit within me?
  • Do I see God's wisdom in the church (vv.10,20), or do I minimize the importance and glory of the redeemed community of God?

 

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