Chapter Three
Copyright ©2002, Charles Hess, Ridgefield, Washington
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The first part of this chapter[ 1 ] deals with the "mystery" revealed to Paul. The mystery that the Gentiles should be made fellow-heirs is briefly explained in verse 6. The next section continues a discussion of the mystery together with Paul's ministry in proclaiming it. The final section is a record of his prayer that his readers might be strengthened and comprehend the great love of Christ (see chart EPHESIANS 3 OUTLINE).

  1. The "mystery" revealed to Paul (Eph 3:1-7).
  2. The mystery and Paul's ministry in proclaiming it (Eph 3:8-13).
  3. Paul's prayer that his readers be strengthened and comprehend the great love of Christ (Eph 3:14-21).


3:1-7 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles-- 2 if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, 3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), 5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, 7 of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.

For this reason [for this cause]. Paul had prayed for the wisdom and knowledge of his readers in Ephesians 1:15-23. While in that prayer, he began to exalt Christ and the church. Then he wrote about God's saving grace to Gentiles into chapter 2. His becoming a minister was coincidental with the grace given to him to preach Christ to the Gentiles (see verse 8). In chapter 3, He continues a similar theme either in prayer or in preparation for it (see the repetition of "For this reason" in verse 14).

I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles [I Paul, prisoner of the Christ Jesus in, on, behalf, of you Gentiles, for you nations]. Paul was in prison for his faith in Christ (see also Phm 1, 9).[ 2 ] Almost everywhere, his preaching to Gentiles had stirred up Jewish opposition. He had asked the brethren in Rome to pray that he would be delivered from "disobedient" men in Judea. A brief account of how he was delivered follows. About two years before he wrote this letter, Trophimus the Ephesian went with him to Jerusalem. The Jews falsely accused him of taking a Gentile into the temple. They became so enraged that they almost tore him limb from limb before he was arrested. He was bound with chains and jailed first in Jerusalem (Ac 21:27-33) and then in Caesarea (Ac 23:23, 33). It was there he appealed to Caesar (Ac 25:11) and was sent by ship to Rome. Thus the cause of his imprisonment was because of the divine adoption of Gentiles, the preaching of which was his primary ministry (Eph 1:13; 2:13; compare Ac 23:21, 22; see chart PAUL'S COMMISSION TO GENTILES).

"I Paul" calls attention to the prisoner and writer of the epistle. It is this Paul who is praying.

[3:2] If indeed you have heard [if ye, if so be that ye, assuming that you, have heard].[ 3 ] "If indeed" is a compound particle. Sometimes the phrase is translated "If so be you have heard" or "You have heard, have you not?" (compare Col 1:23). There is a delicate hint here that the epistle was written to at least some people unfamiliar with Paul's three-year ministry at Ephesus.

Of the dispensation of the grace of God [of the administration, stewardship, of that grace of God, of God's grace].[ 4 ] The "dispensation" is the stewardship, plan or administration of God's grace (see note on Eph 1:10). In the present context, it has to do with Paul's preaching ministry (Eph 3:8). He particularly refers to his three-year evangelistic work at Ephesus. With some exceptions, his ministry there was "the offering up of the Gentiles" (Ro 15:16). It was a "living sacrifice" (Ro 12:1-2) made possible by faith and obedience to the gospel (Ro 1:16, 17; 16:25, 26). It is interesting that when he arrived at Rome and called the Jews together, he said to them, "Because of the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain" (Ac 28:20). The "hope of Israel" was the expectation of the Messiah and, through Him, the resurrection of the dead.

Which was given to me for you [which is, which has been, that was, given to me for you, towards you, given me to you-ward]. The grace that was given to Paul is further explained in verses 3 and 8. It has to do with the divine revelation of God's wonderful plan for the salvation of Gentiles, with many confirming miracles performed through Paul (see Ac 9:15, 16; 22:14, 15; Ga 1:11, 12; 2:7, 8).

(Eph 3:2)
  1. A chosen vessel to bear My name before the Gentiles (Ac 9:15).
  2. Have set you for a light to the Gentiles (Ac 13:47; compare Ac 26:23).
  3. God opened a door of faith to the Gentiles (Ac 14:27).

(Eph 3:2)
  1. Depart, for I will send you forth far hence to the Gentiles (Ac 22:21).
  2. This salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles: they will also hear (Ac 28:28).
  3. Inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry (Ro 11:13).
  4. A minister of Christ to the Gentiles (Ro 15:16).

(Eph 3:2)
  1. Let a man so account of us as ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God (1Co 4:1)
  2. I have a stewardship intrusted to me (1Co 9:17).
  3. Became a minister according to the stewardship from God (Col 1:25).
  4. Appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher (2Ti 1:11).

[3:3] How that by revelation [how, that, by revelation]. The mystery of the salvation of Gentiles was made known "by revelation" and is recorded in the NT. The very words were "taught by the Holy Spirit" (1Co 2:13).

(Eph 3:3)
  1. All nations shall flow into it (Isa 2:2).
  2. Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth!(Isa 45:22).
  3. Every knee shall bow (Isa 45:23).
  4. The Gentiles shall come to your light (Isa 60:3).

He made known to me the mystery [was made known unto me the mystery, the mystery was made known, has been made known, to me]. The promise to Abraham included the salvation of Gentiles. God said to him, "In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Ge 12:3). Probably Israel thought this meant all the Jewish families. However, God made it clearer, "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice" (Ge 22:18). In Scripture, "nations" often means Gentiles (see Isa 62:1, 2). Nevertheless, to the Jews, the conversion of Gentiles in one body with themselves remained a mystery (see Ps 22:7; 86:9; Isa 9:2; 42:1; 49:6; 55:5; Da 7:14; Ho 2:23; Mal 1:11; chart GENTILES TO BE BLESSED).

As I have briefly written already [as I, according as I, wrote afore, have written before, in few words, as I have written briefly]. Paul had previously written briefly concerning the mystery of Gentile salvation in Ephesians 1:9-12 (compare Ga 3:28; see chart GENTILES ARE FELLOW-HEIRS at Eph 3:6).

[3:4] By which, when you read [when you read this, whereby, when ye read, in reading it]. Scripture was still being written when Paul sent this epistle to the Ephesians.[ 5 ] "When you read" specifically refers to the previous brief explanation of the mystery. The general implication is that Christians are expected to read the Holy Scriptures. "Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (Eph 5:17). The will of the Lord is synonymous with the one faith. There is "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Eph 4:5). Christians read and understand. There is no excuse for all the discordant and conflicting religious ideas being taught today that have no basis in truth.[ 6 ]


You may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ [you, ye, can, may, perceive my intelligence, understanding, insight, into the mystery of Christ]. "You may understand" strongly suggests that rank and file members of the body of Christ are expected not only to read the Bible but to understand it.[ 7 ] Preachers who fail to forthrightly interpret the Scriptures to the people will give an account for that. Those who keep on deceitfully preaching human creeds and divisive doctrines are bound for hell (Ga 1:8, 9). Denominational teachers of error who claim Holy Spirit guidance are doubly wrong. In fact, the whole concept of denominationalism is not of God. It is as wrong as can be (see 1Co 1:10).

[3:5] Which in other ages [which in other generations]. Paul was not alone in receiving direct revelation from God. The prophets were given the same message (see chart GENTILES TO BE BLESSED at verse 3). As the Jews read the OT, did they have the faintest idea that Gentiles were to be saved? They admitted if Gentiles would become Jewish proselytes via circumcision they could enjoy heaven. Perhaps they knew of verses that predicted blessings on Gentiles and wondered if they meant they could ever be saved. It was easy for prejudiced Jews to rationalize the truth away and to think that uncircumcised Gentiles would only "lick up the dust" of Jewish feet (see Isa 49:23) or "be utterly ruined" (Isa 60:12).

Was not made known to the sons of men [has not been made known unto the sons of men]. The OT prophecies that uncircumcised Gentiles would some day become children of God by faith seem plain to Christians today. However they were not clear in the minds of OT Jews (see Ac 15:9). The complete idea that both Gentiles and Jews would be saved in one body was not explicitly revealed to OT people. They were completely in the dark about how both Jew and Gentile could be baptized into the one body of Christ (see 1Co 12:13; Ga 3:26-29). In retrospect, people today can see it but they did not. It was not "made known" to them as it has now been revealed.

The expression "son of man" was often applied to the OT prophets, especially Ezekiel (see Eze 11:15; 12:2, 9, 18, 22, 27; 13:2, 17; 14:3, 13; 15:2). It was also employed in reference to Daniel (Da 8:17). It is possible that by "sons of men" Paul meant the salvation of Gentiles was not revealed to the OT prophets. Although the prophets wrote of it, they probably did not understand.


As it has now been revealed by the Spirit [as it hath now been revealed in the Spirit, by the Spirit, in the power of the Spirit].[ 8 ] The twelve apostles received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (Ac 2:1-4). At a later time, the apostle Paul likewise received the outpouring of the Spirit (Tit 3:6). They all spoke "as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Ac 2:4; compare 1Co 2:13; 14:37). Paul and others preached and wrote through the grace of inspiration (see Ro 12:3). In fact, by revelation, four apostles and four inspired prophets wrote all the books in the NT (see note on Eph 2:20).

To His holy apostles and prophets [unto his holy apostles and prophets]. One commentator[ 9 ] made an over-statement when he wrote:

Had there been no Paul it is quite conceivable that there would have been no world-wide Christianity, and that we would not be Christians today.

It is true that Paul did an outstanding work in converting Gentiles but the revelation about Gentiles was not made just to one apostle. It was given to "us, the apostles" [plural] (1Co 4:9). Further, it was revealed to NT prophets who finally understood that Gentiles would be saved in the one church along with Jews who became Christians.

(Eph 3:6)
  1. Heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ (Ro 8:17).
  2. Partakers of their spiritual things (Ro 15:27).
  3. Heirs according to the promise (Ga 3:29).
  4. Sealed with Holy Spirit of promise (Eph 1:13).
  5. Given guarantee of inheritance (Eph 1:14).
  6. Members of the body of Christ (Eph 5:30).
  7. Partakers of inheritance of saints in light (Col 1:12).


[3:6] That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs [to wit, that, that is, how, the Gentiles, they who are of the nations, are fellow heirs, joint heirs]. Jewish Christians are "sons of the prophets and of the covenant" (Ac 3:25). They are "partakers of the heavenly calling" (Heb 3:1). They enjoy "an inheritance incorruptible" (1Pe 1:4) as "partakers of the divine nature" (2Pe 1:4). Paul makes it clear that Gentile Christians also are "children, then heirs" (Ro 8:17; see chart GENTILES ARE FELLOW-HEIRS).

Of the same body [and fellow-members, and of, members of, the body, the same body, a joint body].[ 10 ] By faith, Abraham "is the father of us all," both Jews and Gentiles (Ro 4:16). There are many members "but one body" (1Co 12:20). All the saved are members of the body of Christ, the church (see Eph 5:23, 30).

(Eph 3:6)
  1. He is our peace, who has made both one (Eph 2:14).
  2. Reconciliation of both to God in one body (Eph 2:16).
  3. Through Him both have access by one Spirit (Eph 2:18).
  4. Fellow heirs, of the same body (Eph 3:6).
  5. There is one body (Eph 4:4; compare 1Co 12:20).


And partakers of His promise in Christ [and fellow-partakers, joint partakers, of the promise in Christ Jesus].[ 11 ] In Galatians 3:6-29, Paul explained that Gentile Christians are joint-recipients with Jewish Christians of the promise to Abraham (see Ge 12:1-3; 22:18). The OT promised a new covenant (see Jer 31:31-34) but the idea that both Gentiles and Jews would be saved in one body by a "law-free" gospel was a new concept to the people of the first century.

Through the gospel [by the gospel, glad tidings].[ 12 ] Gentiles are spiritually blessed in Christ only through the gospel, not by becoming Jews or obeying the OT Law. Like Jews, they must believe and obey it in order to be saved (compare Mk 16:16; Ac 11:18; Ro 6:3; Ga 3:27; Eph 1:3).


[3:7] Of which I became a minister [whereof I am become minister, was made a minister, a minister of this gospel].[ 13 ] The word translated "minister" is sometimes rendered servant or deacon. The apostle Paul was made a servant or minister to preach the gospel but he was not a deacon (compare Col 1:23; 1Ti 1:12-16; 2Ti 1:11, 12). As a gospel minister, he was the chief preacher to the Gentiles.


According to the gift of the grace of God [according to the gift, of the, of that, grace of God, of God's grace].[ 14 ] A position of servanthood (ministry) was extended to Paul as a gift (1Co 3:10). The giving to him of the grace of God involved making him an apostle to the Gentiles.

Given to me by the effective working of His power [given unto me, which was given me, according to the working, by the working of, by the effectual working of, his power].[ 15 ] God used a miracle on the Damascus road to bring Saul the persecutor to his knees. However, it was only after he underwent water baptism that he received the miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Tit 3:5, 6). The "gift of the grace of God" was given to him "by the effective working" of God's power. God's superhuman power kept on working through him (see notes on Eph 1:19; Col 1:29). He was given the ability to pass on miraculous gifts (Ac 19:6). He was able to work all the signs of an apostle (2Co 12:12). In addition, the "gift of the grace of God" enabled him to speak and write by inspiration and to perform various miracles (see Ro 12:3).


3:8-12 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints [unto me, less than, though I am, less than, the very least, the least of all saints].[ 16 ] Paul's very name means "little." He verbalizes his humility. Because he had persecuted the church, he humbled himself. He once described himself as a child untimely born, literally, an aborted fetus that should have been discarded or buried out of sight (see note on 1Co 15:8). He said am,[ 17 ] not was less than the least.[ 18 ] Long after he repented and was baptized, he called himself "chief of sinners" (1Ti 1:15).

How could such a person as Paul be commissioned to take the gospel to the Gentile world? The fact is that he was chosen by God Himself (Ac 9:15) to be one of His "earthen vessels" (2Co 4:7). It was God's specific intent that he preach to the Gentiles (Ga 1:16; 2:7). Paul admitted, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1Co 15:10). Along with the other apostles, he was given the distinguished assignment of Ambassador[ 19 ] for Christ (2Co 5:20).

This grace was given [was, is, this grace given, has this grace been given].[ 20 ] "According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master-builder, I laid a foundation and another builds on it" (1Co 3:10; compare Ro 1:5; 12:3; 15:15; Ga 2:9). Because of Paul's divine commission and the gift of the grace of God, he was in nothing "behind the most eminent apostles" (2Co 12:11).

That I should preach among the Gentiles [to preach to, unto, to announce among, the nations]. Whether Paul was in prison or free, circumstances and events worked together for "the progress of the gospel" (see Php 1:12; see charts PAUL'S COMMISSION TO GENTILES A and B at Eph 3:2).

The unsearchable riches of Christ [the, the glad tidings of the, unsearchable riches of the Christ].[ 21 ] One aspect of the "exceeding greatness" of Christ (Eph 1:19) is "His unsearchable riches." In the present context, it is "His mercy upon all," both Jew and Gentile alike. Both had been "shut up" unto disobedience (Ro 11:32) The Greek word for "unsearchable" is the same as "past finding out" in Romans 11:33.[ 22 ] In the present verse, the riches of Christ are "unsearchable." Think for a moment that a people without God who had no hope (Eph 2:12) may receive God's grace, pardon, membership in the one body of Christ and an eternal inheritance. This is only a part of the "unsearchable" riches of Christ given to Gentiles.

[3:9] And to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery [and to enlighten all with the knowledge of what is the administration of, the dispensation of, the plan of, the mystery].[ 23 ] The "mystery" has now been revealed. What is the mystery? It is the marvelous acceptance into the body of Christ of Gentiles along with Jews. The wonderful plan of salvation for "whosoever will" in the Lord's church is now clearly seen. Anyone of any race who believes and obeys the gospel may be saved in the one body of Christ (see verse 10; compare Ac 10:34, 35).

Which from the beginning of the ages [for ages, which for ages, which from the beginning of the world, throughout the ages].[ 24 ] The mystery was "hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints" (Col 1:26; see notes on Eph 3:3, 5).

Has been hidden in God [hidden, hath been hid, in God].[ 25 ] The full expression of God's loving plan was withheld from man for many, many years. It was hid in God. His love and mercy required such a plan but the details of how it would be carried out were not known to man.

Who created all things through Jesus Christ [who has created all things, by Jesus Christ].[ 26 ] The same God who brought reconciliation and redemption to man is the Creator of all things (see 2Co 5:18, 19).[ 27 ] His creation exhibits His wisdom. Consider the symbiosis and balance of nature, the suitable environment of air, water and land for the various life forms. Admire the complexity of the human organ systems. Do not take for granted the availability in the creation for man's provisions of food, clothing and shelter.


[3:10] To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God [that, in order that now, the all-various wisdom of God].[ 28 ] After a discussion of the salvation of Gentiles in the church, Paul wrote, "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!" (Ro 11:33). Be amazed that God imparted to man an appreciation of beauty, music and the ability to reason. Think of the medicines found in both plants, animals and creatures of the sea and be dumbfounded. Marvel at God's wisdom in it all. However, more than any of these, in Christ and the church, His many-colored, multi-faceted wisdom is made known (see chart MANIFOLD WISDOM OF GOD).

(Eph 3:10)
  1. The eternal purpose.
  2. In Jesus Christ our Lord.
  3. In past ages hidden.
  4. Now revealed to all, including Gentiles.
  5. Establishment of the church universal.
  6. Wisdom of God revealed to angels.
  7. Christians now in communion with God.

(Adapted from Lenski 486)

The wisdom of God is ever-varying like changing sunsets or scenes in an expensive kaleidoscope.[ 29 ] Its many-sided beauty is like a many-faceted diamond, the multicolored autumn leaves, or the majestic display of flowers in Butchart Gardens.[ 30 ] All these aid in our view of God but, to ever spiritually-minded person, it is the church that really shows forth His manifold wisdom. As Richard Baggett said, "It is beautiful every way you look at it!" (see chart RICHES OF GOD'S GLORY at Eph 3:16).

Open my eyes, that I may see

Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;

Place in my hands the wonderful key

That shall unclasp, and set me free.

Charles H. Scott

(Eph 3:10)
  1. The conception of the church in God's mind.
  2. Selecting the Redeemer.
  3. The incarnation.
  4. The atonement.
  5. The renewal of man's heart.
  6. The sanctification of man's soul.
  7. God's direction in bringing the church to glory.

(Adapted from Albert Barnes 7.59)

Might be made known by the church [might, might now, be made known through the church, the assembly]. Salvation of both Jew and Gentile in the Lord's church is the prominent thought here.[ 31 ] The church is much more than some shallow, scrawny and trivial denominational concept of it. It is the institution that Christ loves (Eph 5:25), for which He died (Ac 20:28), in which the Holy Spirit dwells (Eph 2:22) and in which every saved person on earth and in heaven is a member (see Eph 5:23). It is the pillar and ground of the truth (1Ti 3:15). As such, it is God's "missionary society" to carry out the Great Commission (see Mt 28:18-20).

Notice that the church beautifully shows to men and angels the salvation of that is according to the eternal wisdom of God. The church, consisting of saved Jews and Gentiles, is fundamental in the mystery hidden from the foundation of the world and now revealed (see note on verse 9).[ 32 ]

To the principalities and powers [to, unto, the principalities and the powers, and authorities].[ 33 ] Many think the principalities and powers are spirit beings or angels (see notes on Eph 1:21; Col 1:16; 2:10, 15; 1Ti 3:16; 1Pe 1:12). They certainly include "the rulers of this world" (1Co 2:8), "the world rulers of this darkness" (Eph 6:12).

In the heavenly places [in, in the, heavenlies, heavenly places].[ 34 ] Peter alluded to the salvation brought about by the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow. Then he added, "which things angels desire to look into" (1Pe 1:12). See the comment on "heavenly places" in note on Ephesians 1:3.


[3:11] According to the eternal purpose [according to, this was according to, the purpose of the ages].[ 35 ] The bringing of all races of people to redemption in the church is no exception. In God's plan, the church was eternally involved.[ 36 ] It was never an afterthought. It was planned in eternity. It was anticipated in the patriarchal age (see Ge 3:15; 7:1-5; 12:3; 22:18; 28:17). It was foreshadowed in the Jewish age (1Co 10:1-4). Its coming was prepared during the personal ministries of John the Baptist and Christ. It was finally established on the first Pentecost day after the resurrection of Christ (see Ac 2:47; 11:15). It continues to grow into a holy temple of God (Eph 2:22).

Which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord [which he purposed, which he has realized, in Christ Jesus our Lord].[ 37 ] God works all things "after the counsel of His own will" (Eph 1:11). In a parallel passage, Paul discussed the fact that Jesus "made peace through the blood of His cross" (Col 1:20) and that reconciliation was accomplished "in the body of His flesh through death" (Col 1:22). To sum up, God's marvelous, eternal, redemptive plan is fulfilled in Christ and His glorious church.


In whom we have boldness [in whom we have boldness].[ 38 ] It is through Christ that "we both have access in one Spirit to the Father" (Eph 2:18; see chart BOLDNESS).

(Eph 3:12)
  1. In whom we have boldness and access in confidence to the Father through faith in Him (Eph 3:12)
  2. Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace (Heb 4:16).
  3. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus (Heb 10:19).

(Eph 3:12)
  1. Cast not away therefore your boldness, which has great recompense of reward (Heb 10:35).
  2. We may have boldness and not be ashamed before Him at His coming (1Jo 2:28).
  3. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, we have boldness toward God (1Jo 3:21).
  4. This is the boldness that we have toward Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us (1Jo 5:14).


And access with confidence [and confidence of access, and access in confidence].[ 39 ] The same Greek word translated "confidence" is used in the Hebrew letter. "Let us therefore draw near with boldness[ 40 ] unto the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help us in time of need" (see Heb 4:16; compare Heb 10:19; see chart BOLDNESS).

Christ is the Agent and Mediator of every Christian. In Him, they approach God with boldness and in trustful confidence (see note on 1Ti 2:5). Coming to God is used synonymously with salvation (see Joh 6:44, 45). Without faith and obedience, the unsaved are offered no confidence in approaching God. Even their prayers are seriously hindered.

Through faith in Him [through our faith in him, by the faith of him].[ 41 ] It is through obedient faith in Christ that Christians have boldness to approach God.


3:13 Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart [wherefore I beseech you, I desire, so I ask you, not to faint, that ye faint not, that ye may not faint, not to lose heart].[ 42 ] How might weak Christians react to Paul's tribulations? One response might be to become cowardly and give up (compare 2Co 4:1, 16). After all, their friend and teacher was in prison. Perhaps some would become weary and give up their faith completely. Others might become disheartened and slow down in their own work among Gentiles. Was not the great apostle to the Gentiles in jail?

Instead of losing heart because of his troubles, Paul urges Christians to respond positively. He insists that they be proud because he was willing to suffer for the Name (see Ac 9:15, 16). Such an optimistic response is for their own good. Everyone should and could be strengthened because of his example and strong faith.

At my tribulations for you [over what I am suffering, through my tribulations, for you]. Paul's "tribulations" involved more than imprisonment. For instance, he had been almost torn apart in Jerusalem and then arrested as a result of his zealous work among the Gentiles (see Ac 21:27-33; 22:21, 22; Eph 3:1). When he wrote the Ephesian letter, he had already met with the Ephesian elders at Miletus. To them he said, "The Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me" (Ac 20:22, 23). It was the substance of his life to suffer for Christ (see notes on 2Co 11:23-28).

Which is your glory [which are your glory].[ 43 ] Paul's sufferings brought honor to him. If he was under house-arrest in Rome, he was where Christ desired him to be.[ 44 ] It was his hope that, because of his example, Christians everywhere would opt for being strengthened. He was suffering hardship for others. He was "set for the defense of the gospel" (Php 1:17). His sufferings were for the glory of other Christians.

Christians who suffered for Christ would regard it as a divine gift (see Php 1:29).[ 45 ] They considered it to be a blessing from God (1Pe 3:14). Suffering for Christ fulfills a purpose of life of which one should not be ashamed (1Pe 4:1). The correct response to suffering is to glorify God. Peter said "the Spirit of glory" would rest upon the persecuted ones.

If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you (1Pe 4:14).

Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter (1Pe 4:16).

Many who have become intimately acquainted with Paul through a study of Acts and the epistles have developed a strong faith in Jesus Christ. He wrote:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Ro 8:18).

Because of the strengthening of others as well as his reward in heaven, he was content and even rejoiced in his sufferings (see Col 1:24; Php 4:11; 1Ti 6:8; 2Ti 4:6-8).


3:14-19 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height--19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

(Eph 3:14)
  1. Do not want to soil nice clothing.
  2. Not enough room between pews.
  3. Song leaders ask congregation to stand.
  4. Fear a trend toward formalism.
  5. Sitting or standing is more comfortable.
  6. Physically unable to kneel.
  7. Embarrassment.

For this reason I bow my knees [for this cause, for this reason, I bow my knees].[ 46 ] Paul continues the prayer he began in Ephesians 1:15. His "reason" to pray goes back to "the dispensation of the grace of God" given to him for his readers (Eph 3:1; compare 2:22). When he said, "which is your glory" (verse 13), he was speaking of his own sufferings. In the immediate context, his reason for praying was the effect his sufferings might have on them.

Paul bowed his knees in prayer. So did Jesus (Lu 22:41). So did Stephen and other Christians (Ac 7:60; 21:5). Unless done for show, kneeling reflects the humility of hearts before God. Why did most of the religious Jews stand during prayer (see Mt 6:5; Mk 11:25; Lu 18:11)? Why do many today not bow when they pray? As a child in the 1930's I vividly recall seeing elders, preachers, faithful men and some women regularly on their knees during prayer. As the years went by, fewer and fewer people knelt until now almost no one does. Some kneel at home but refrain in public lest they attract attention. Do they fear being accused of formality? Are some of those who do not kneel merely complacent (see chart WHY PEOPLE DO NOT KNEEL)?

To the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ [before the Father, unto the Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ].[ 47 ] Although some Greek texts omit "of our Lord Jesus Christ," several other passages confirm that God is indeed the Father of Jesus Christ (see Ro 15:6; 2Co 1:3; 11:31; Eph 1:3, 17; Col 1:3; 1Pe 1:3; 2Jo 3).

(Eph 3:16)
  1. Do you despise the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering? (Ro 2:4).
  2. Riches of His grace shown in His kindness (Eph 1:7).
  3. The Father of glory (Eph 1:17).
  4. Rich in mercy (Eph 2:4).
  5. The exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness (Eph 2:7).
  6. Supplies all needs "according to His riches in glory" (Php 4:19).
  7. Grace abounded exceedingly with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus (Ro 5:20; 1Ti 1:14).


[3:15] From whom the whole family in heaven and earth [of whom every family, in the heaven and on earth].[ 48 ] The whole family is the whole church, the church universal. Some think the Greek should be translated "every family." If so, it may refer to every local congregation[ 49 ] of the Lord's church. There are members both upon earth and in heaven.[ 50 ] Members in heaven are those who have departed via death to be with Christ (see Php 1:23).[ 51 ]

There is a strong emphasis on unity in this letter. It is my view that the "whole family" is the one great family, the universal church of the Lord. Why have men and women allowed the unity for which Christ prayed to be fractured (see Joh 17:20, 21)? How can sincere Christians endorse the divisions of denominationalism?

Is named.[ 52 ] The singular number of "is named" suggests the naming is of "the whole family." It appears to me that God has named the entire church. The passive voice does not actually say that God did the naming of His people but other Scriptures teach that He has done exactly that. For example, a "new name" was to be given by the mouth of the Lord (Isa 62:1, 2). Paul was to bear His name (see note on Ac 9:15). It was God who called the disciples "Christians" first at Antioch (see note on Ac 11:26). Man is very presumptive to assign human names either to God's saints or to His church. In my judgment, non-biblical religious names are divisive and, therefore, sinful.

[3:16] That He would grant you [in order that he may grant you, may give you].[ 53 ] The goddess Diana never gave anybody anything. In spite of that, people shouted, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!" (Ac 19:28). By contrast, our God is a giving God. He gives the power to get wealth (De 8:18; 2Ch 1:11, 12). His blessing makes rich (Pr 10:22). He gives riches and wealth and gives power to eat of it (Ec 5:19). He gives corn and wine and oil and multiplies silver and gold (Ho 2:8; see charts A GIVING GOD A and B). In the present context, He gives strength through His Spirit. "And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Php 4:19).

(Eph 3:16)
  1. Gave His only Begotten Son (Joh 3:16).
  2. If you knew the gift of God (Joh 4:10).
  3. The free gift of God is eternal life (Ro 6:23).
  4. How shall He not also with Him freely give us all things? (Ro 8:32).

(Eph 3:16)
  1. Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift (2Co 9:15).
  2. For by grace you have been saved . . . it is the gift of God (Eph 2:8).
  3. That He would grant you to be strengthened (Eph 3:16).

According to the riches of His glory. God's supply of riches never fail. Some of them are His grace, wisdom, majesty, love and power. All of these and more are "His glory." He is "the Father of glory" (Eph 1:17). He treasures also "the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints" (Eph 1:18).

(Eph 3:16)
  1. Spiritual riches are received when the understanding is enlightened (Eph 1:18).
  2. The riches of Christ are "unsearchable" (Eph 3:8).
  3. The reproaches of Christ are greater riches than the treasures of Egypt (Heb 11:26).
  4. Though poor in material resources, heirs of the kingdom are rich in faith (Jas 2:5).


To be strengthened with might [that ye may be strengthened with power].[ 54 ] God strengthened OT saints by the Scriptures. David prayed, "Strengthen me according to Your word" (Ps 119:28).

Through His Spirit [by his Spirit]. Does it make sense to you that the Spirit strengthens saints through the inspired word? That is exactly how Paul prayed for the Colossians. "For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding" (Col 1:9). He envisioned the Ephesian elders being built up by the word.

So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified (Ac 20:32; compare Ro 16:25; Tit 2:11, 12).

"No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit" (1Co 12:3). Does this mean that everyone who says the words, "Jesus is Lord" is inspired by the Holy Spirit? Apparently not. Anyone can mouth those words. Remember that the Holy Spirit is a teacher (see Joh 14:26). The truth that Jesus is Lord comes only by the teaching of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit's teaching is recorded in the NT. No one sincerely confesses that Jesus is Lord except by teaching that has proceeded from the Holy Spirit.

In the inner man [in the inward man].[ 55 ] Paul uses the phrase "the inner man" synonymously with "your hearts" (verse 17; compare Eph 1:18; see chart THE INNER MAN). In the singular number, Peter calls it "the hidden person of the heart" (1Pe 3:4). The force of the Greek EIS in suggests the strengthening by the Spirit is to be done in the very depths of the heart.

(Eph 3:16)
  1. I delight in the law of God after the inward man (Ro 7:22).
  2. Inward man renewed day by day (2Co 4:16).
  3. Strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inward man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith (Eph 3:16, 17).
  4. Unto a fullgrown man (Eph 4:13).
  5. Whose adorning . . . let it be the hidden man of the heart (1Pe 3:4).

(Eph 3:17).
  1. Christ and the Father come and make their abode with those who love Him and keep His word (Joh 14:23).
  2. If any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His (Ro 8:9).
  3. The church is "a dwelling place of God in the Spirit" (Eph 2:22).
  4. Christ lives in me (Ga 2:20).
  5. Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him (1Jo 3:24).


[3:17] That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith [by, through faith, that the Christ may dwell, through faith, in your hearts].[ 56 ] A lifeless image dwelt in the temple of Diana at Ephesus. By contrast, the living Christ dwells in the heart of every Christian (see chart THE INDWELLING CHRIST). This is a greater encouragement and blessing than any false religion can offer.

(Eph 3:16-19)
  1. Strength through His Spirit in inner man (Eph 3:16).
  2. Christ may dwell in hearts through faith (Eph 3:17).
  3. May comprehend and know the love of Christ (Eph 3:18, 19).
  4. Be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph 3:19).


That you, being rooted and grounded in love [that ye, to the end that ye, being rooted and founded in love].[ 57 ] "In love" is emphatic since it is first in the Greek sentence. There is nothing more fundamental in the character of a Christian than this. Love for the Lord may be the primary emphasis but it is impossible to love Him without loving others. As the great and loving heart of Christ becomes the heart of the Christian, he becomes rooted and grounded, strong and knowing, in His love (compare Col 2:7; Ro 5:5).

The practical application is keeping the Lord in one's thoughts to the extent that Christ's mind of love directs the life completely. This, in part, was the intent of Paul's prayer (see chart WHAT PAUL PRAYED FOR). Note the recurring "that." "That he would grant you" (verse 16) that you "be strengthened (verse 16),"[ 58 ] "that Christ may dwell in your hearts" (verse 17) and "that you, being rooted and grounded in love" (verse 17).

(Eph 3:17)
  1. In whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord (Eph 2:21).
  2. Rooted and grounded [TETHEMELIOOMENOI well-founded] in love (Eph 3:17).
  3. All the body fitly framed and knit together (Eph 4:16).
  4. Rooted and built up in Him (Col 2:7).

Like Disney World in Florida, the temple of Diana was built on marshy ground. Immense effort was exerted and much money expended to make a solid foundation for that large and magnificent structure.[ 59 ] Christians have a much better foundation because they are "rooted and grounded in love." Their building is more costly than the pagan temple of Diana. The church, as well as each member of it, cost the precious blood of Jesus Christ (see Ac 20:28; 1Pe 1:18, 19).

[3:18] May be able to comprehend [may be strong, may have power, may be able, in order that ye may be fully able, to apprehend].[ 60 ] Paul trusted that the indwelling Christ, together with the answer to his prayer, that his readers would be strengthened, and rooted and grounded in love and then would be able to grasp the amazing love of Christ.

With all the saints [with all saints]. Not only did Paul pray for the Ephesians, he prayed for all Christians of all ages, even for us.

What is the width and length [what is the breadth and length].[ 61 ] In speaking of the wisdom of God, Zophar the Naamathite used dimensional language to denote its depth and limitless magnitude. He said, "It is high as heaven; what can you do? Deeper than Sheol; what can you know? The measure of it is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea" (Job 11:8, 9). What he said was true of God's wisdom. It is doubly true of Christ's love.

And depth and height [and height and depth, and depth and height]. The dimensions allude to the fullness and completeness of Christ's love.

[3:19] To know the love of Christ [and to know the love of the Christ].[ 62 ] The goal of every Christian should be to know more of the love of the Savior. Knowing it is not sufficient unless he demonstrates it to others.

Which passes knowledge [which surpasses, passeth, knowledge].[ 63 ] How can anyone know something that surpasses knowledge? Even though the love of Christ does that, Paul's prayer was for his readers to know it. I take it to mean one should know as much of His love as possible.

One poet could not find words to adequately express the love of God.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,

And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth a quill,

And every man a scribe by trade;

To write the love of God above,

Would drain the ocean dry;

Nor, could the scroll contain the whole,

Tho' stretched from sky to sky!

F. H. Lehman

Can anyone know how great Christ's love really is? I believe that some can approach that knowledge. However, Fanny Crosby had her doubts when she wrote:

There are depths of love that I cannot know

Till I cross the narrow sea;

There are heights of joy that I may not reach

Till I rest in peace with Thee.

Fanny J. Crosby

That you may be filled with all the fullness of God [that ye may be filled unto, might be filled, even to all the fullness of God].[ 64 ] To be "filled with all the fullness of God" is to have the whole soul filled with meekness, gentleness, goodness, love, justice, holiness, mercy and truth.[ 65 ] As Christians are filled with His fullness, they become "partakers of the divine nature" (2Pe 1:4). John spoke of this when he said, "And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace"[ 66 ] (Joh 1:16). "For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell" (Col 1:19). The Christian's goal is to attain "to the measure of the stature" of His fullness (Eph 4:13). However, their tiny human cups may not be able to contain all of His fullness. Their cups tend to run over (Ps 23:5).


3:20, 21 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Now to Him who is able [now unto him, but to him, that is able].[ 67 ] The present participle suggests that God continues to be able and powerful.

To do exceedingly abundantly [to do far more abundantly, to do far exceedingly].[ 68 ] How can Christians know the love of Christ? How can they be filled with the fullness of God? Paul trusts in prayer to the God who can do more than they can ask or think.


Above all that we ask or think [than all which we ask or think]. The Greek prefix HUPER exceedingly means beyond or over and above. God is able to do above and beyond all that Christians may ask or even imagine (see note on verse 16).

According to the power that works in us [according to the power that worketh, which works, by the power at work, within us]. God works in Christians "both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Php 2:13). The inward man is being renewed day by day (2Co 4:16). Christians know that God strengthens them (Php 4:13). His word is living and powerful (Heb 4:12). It is at work within to strengthen the mind and spirit.


[3:21] To Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus [unto him be the glory in the assembly and in Christ Jesus]. The church is God's masterpiece of grace.[ 69 ] In it, Jew and Gentile are brought together. In it are all the saved. In it, as a temple, God Himself dwells. Millions of transformed hearts faithfully, sincerely and regularly worship Him. They ascribe glory to Him in His church through Christ.

"For Christ and the church" let our voices ring,

Let us honor the name of our own blessed King;

Let us work with a will in the strength of youth,

And loyally stand for the kingdom of truth.

E. E. Hewitt

To all generations [unto all generations, throughout all ages, of the age of ages].[ 70 ] God's glory in the church has no end. It is age-lasting.

Forever and ever [world without end, unto all generations]. There is never to be another divine revelation that supersedes the one we now have (see Jude 3). There will never be another institution to replace the church.

Amen. The "Amen" attests to the truth of what Paul has written.

For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us (2Co 1:20).


[ 1 ]The basic text in this chapter is the NKJV. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Alternate phrases in brackets are from ASV, Darby, KJV and RSV and occasionally another version. Greek transliteration follows the BibleSoft method.
[ 2 ]It is generally thought that Paul was under house arrest in Rome when he wrote Ephesians, Philippians Colossians and Philemon. These letters are commonly called the prison epistles.
[ 3 ]EI GE EEKOUSATE, if indeed ye heard (Marshall 764).
[ 4 ]TEEN OIKONOMIAN TEES CHARITOS TOU THEOU, the stewardship of the grace of God (Marshall 764); the stewardship committed to [Paul] "to fulfill the Word of God," the fulfillment being the unfolding of the completion of the Divinely arranged and imparted cycle of truths which are consummated in the truth relating to the Church as the Body of Christ, Colossians 1:25 (RV and AV, "dispensation") so in Ephesians 3:2, of the grace of God given him as a stewardship ("dispensation") in regard to the same "mystery" (Vine 312).
[ 5 ]Certain NT books are almost certain to had been, or would soon be, made available at Ephesus. Among these are the letters of 1, 2 Timothy (1Ti 1:3), Revelation (see Re 2:1-7). Many think the Gospel of John was written there. The book of Acts and other epistles may have been obtainable also.
[ 6 ]A refreshingly honest study of a Biblical subject by Baptist scholar is G. R. Beasley-Murray's book Baptism in the New Testament (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1986).
[ 7 ]I know there are some things "hard to understand" (2Pe 3:16) but those things that have to do with the plan of salvation, the organization, work and worship of the church are plain.
[ 8 ]HOS NUN APEKALUPHTHEE EEN PNEUMATI, as now it was revealed in spirit (Marshall 764); APEKALUPHTHEE is third person singular, first aorist passive indicative of APOKALUPTOO (Han 359).
[ 9 ]Barclay 145.
[ 10 ]KAI SUSSOOMA, and a joint-body (Marshall 764); compound adjective meaning "belonging to the same body" (Bruce 316); members with them of the same body (Williams); and fellow-body members (Lenski 465).
[ 11 ]KAI SUMMETOCHA TEES EPANGELIAS EN CHRISTOO 'IEESOU, and joint-sharers of the promise in Christ Jesus (Marshall 764); partaking together with [SUN with, METOCHOS sharing in, partaking of], a joint-partaker (Vine 834); and sharers with them of the promise (Williams).
[ 12 ]DIA TOU EUANGELIOU, through the gospel (Marshall 764); through the good news (Williams).
[ 13 ]HOU EGENEETHEEN DIAKONOS, of which I became a minister (Marshall 764).
[ 14 ]KATA TEEN DOOREAN TEES CHARITOS TOU THEOU, according to the gift of the grace of God (Marshall 764); in accordance with the gift of God's unmerited favor (Williams).
[ 15 ]TEES DOTHEISEES MOI KATA TEEN ENERGEIAN TEES DUNAMEOOS AUTOU, given to me according to the operation of the power of him (Marshall 764); that given to me according to the operation of his power (Lenski 465); which was bestowed on me by the exercise of His power (Williams).
[ 16 ]EMOI TOO ELACHISTOTEROO PANTOON HAGIOON, to me the leaster [this is quite literal!--the apostle coins a word] of all saints (Marshall 764); more least (Vincent 3.381); the lessermost of all saints (Bruce 318); the very least (Williams); a comparative degree formed from ELACHISTOS least [a superlative degree formed from the word ELACHUS little] (Vine 654, 655).
[ 17 ]"Am" may be taken in the sense that one might say years after a certain battle, "I am" the hero of it. This is a common figure of speech.
[ 18 ]In the Greek, a single adjective was coined by Paul for "less than the least" (see 1Co 15:9). I see no reason to suspect a later hand added this new word to the Greek language. The same holds regarding "chief of sinners" (see 1Ti 1:15).
[ 19 ]The apostles were ambassadors (see any good lexicon; note on 2Co 5:20).
[ 20 ]EDOTHEE HEE CHARIS HAUTE, was given this grace (Marshall 764); this unmerited favor was bestowed (Williams).
[ 21 ]TO ANEXICHNIASTON PLOUTOS TOU CHRISTOU, the unsearchable riches of Christ (Marshall 764); that which cannot be tracked out (Vincent 3.381; Vine 1197); [from ICHNOS footprint, track], Christ's unfathomable wealth (Bruce 319).
[ 22 ]The Greek for "unsearchable" in Romans 11:33 is ANEXEREUNEETA inscrutable or past finding out.
[ 23 ]KAI PHOOTISAI TIS HEE OIKONOMIA TOU MUSTEERIOU, and to bring to light what [is] the stewardship of the mystery (Marshall 764); stewardship, arrangement; other Greek texts have KOINONIA fellowship. The basic meaning of MUSTEERIOU mystery is "secret, secret rite, secret teaching, mystery (Arndt 530).
[ 24 ]APO TOON AIOONOON, from the ages (Marshall 765); literally, from the ages (Vincent 3.381).
[ 25 ]TOU APOKEKRUMMENOU EN TOO THEOO having been hidden from the ages in God (Marshall 765); literally, from the ages (Vincent 3.381).
[ 26 ]TOO PANTA KTISANTI, the [one] all things having created (Marshall 765).
[ 27 ]Some of the Gnostics denied that the True God was creator. They taught that the creation was accomplished by a sub-ordinate deity called a "Demiurge."
[ 28 ]HINA NUN . . . HEE POLUPOIKILOS SOPHIA TOU THEOU, in order that now the manifold wisdom of God (Marshall 765); many-colored, many sided; varying, ever-beautiful (Albert Barnes); his much-variegated wisdom (Bruce 320).
[ 29 ]The first known use of POLUPOIKILOS manifold is in a lyric passage in Euripides, Iphigeneia in Tauris 1149 (where it applied to PHASEA, "many-colored cloaks" (Bruce 320).
[ 30 ]Butchart Gardens with myriads of beautiful flowers are in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
[ 31 ]"For the church fellowship in which Gentile and Jewish believers were united was no mere enrollment on a register of membership; it involved their union with Christ by faith and therefore their union with each other as fellow-members of his body" (F. F. Bruce 319).
[ 32 ]The reader now has permission to snicker, chuckle and howl now at the pathetic concept that the church was only a temporary, unplanned substitute for the kingdom!
[ 33 ]TAIS ARCHAIS KAI TAIS EXOUSIAIS, to the rulers and to the authorities (Marshall 765); to the rulers and authorities (Williams); to the principalities and the authorities (Lenski 475).
[ 34 ]EN TOIS EPOURANIOIS, in the heavenlies (Marshall 765); in heaven (Williams); in the heavenly places (Lenski 475).
[ 35 ]KATA PROTHESIN TOON AIOONOON, according to [the] purpose of the ages (Marshall 765); according to the "setting forth, putting out, arrangement, presentation" of the ages (Arndt 706; Vine 905; Macknight 331; Vincent 3.382; Weed 151; Hunter 61; Barnes 7.59).
[ 36 ]Some interpreters think this only dates its planning prior to the giving of the Law of Moses.
[ 37 ]HEEN EPOIEESEN EN TOO CHRISTOO 'IESOU TOO KURIOO HEMOON, which he made in Christ Jesus the Lord of us (Marshall 765); which He made, did or performed (Vine 322, 406).
[ 38 ]EN HOO ECHOMEN TEEN PARRESIAN, in whom we have boldness (Marshall 765); PARRESIAN [from PAS all, RHEESIS speech], the absence of fear in speaking boldly; hence, confidence, cheerful courage, boldness, without any connection necessarily with speech (Vine 130); PARRESIA is used later of freedom of utterance in preaching the gospel (see Eph 6:19).
[ 39 ]KAI PROSAGOOGEEN EN PEPOITHEESEI, and access in confidence (Marshall 765); a free and confidential introduction to God (Williams).
[ 40 ]The Greek word for "boldness" in Hebrews 4:16 is PARREESIAS confidence.
[ 41 ]DIA TEES PISTEOOS AUTOU, through the faith of (in) him (Marshall 765); objective genitive (Lenski 485); in this instance, the King James is inferior to other versions, most of which correctly translate the objective genitive as "in Him" rather than "of Him."
[ 42 ]DIO AITOUMAI MEE ENKAKEIN, wherefore I ask [you] not to faint (Marshall 765); the infinitive [ENKAKEIN] means not to grow KAKOS, good for nothing . . . [came to mean not] to grow fainthearted, discouraged, lose heart (Lenski 487); so I beg you not to lose heart (Williams).
[ 43 ]HEETIS ESTIN DOXA HUMOON, which is glory of you (Marshall 765); for they bring you honor (Williams).
[ 44 ]Bruce 323.
[ 45 ]Deliverance from death by persecution is also a gift (2Co 1:8-11).
[ 46 ]TOUTOU CHARIN KAMPTOO TA GONATA MOU, of this By reason of I bend the knees of me (Marshall 765); I kneel before the Father (Williams); I bend my knees to the Father (Bruce 323).
[ 47 ]PROS TON PATERA, unto the Father (Marshall 765); some Greek texts include "of our Lord Jesus Christ."
[ 48 ]EX HOU PASA PATRIA EN OURANOIS KAI EPI GEES, of whom every fatherhood in heavens and on earth (Marshall 765); literally, every family, that is, a group of families having the same father or PATER (Vincent 3.383); PATRIA is more than a household but less than a tribe (Vine 406); family, clan, relationship . . . a division of a nation . . . from whom every family in heaven and on earth receives its name (Arndt 636); Coverdale, Great Bible, Tyndale: "the father . . . which is father over all that is called father in heaven and in earth" (Bruce 325); family, in a wider sense, which is, nation, people: Acts 3:25 [1Ch 16:28; Ps 22:28] . . . pasapatria en ouranois (that is, every order of angels) KAI EPI GEES [and upon earth] (Thayer 495, 496); the AV (KJV) is correct, "the whole family," or verbally better, "all the family" (all that is family). . . . there is only one PATRIA, there are no PATRIAI [plural] (Lenski 491).
[ 49 ]To my knowledge, every other reference to the church in the book of Ephesians is to the church universal.
[ 50 ]This verse counters the Gnostic idea that the Creator is the Demiurge who has nothing to with heavenly things.
[ 51 ]I see no need to insert into Paul's language the Jewish or gnostic idea of ranks of angels in heaven. The family of God is the church (1Ti 3:15).
[ 52 ]ONOMAZETAI, is named (Marshall 765); third person singular, present passive indicative of ONOMAZOO (Han 360); receives its name (Arndt 636); to name, call, give a name to (Vine 772).
[ 53 ]HINA DOO HUMIN, in order that he may give you (Marshall 765); DOO is third person singular, second aorist active subjunctive of DIDOOMI (Han 360); and beg him to grant you (Williams); the aorist "that he give" is effective, it is an actual great gift (Lenski 492).
[ 54 ]DUNAMEI KRATAIOOTHEENAI, by power to become mighty (Marshall 765); KRATAIOOTHEENAI is the first aorist passive infinitive of KRATAIOOO (Han 360); to be strengthened, grow strong morally (Zodhiates 487); to be mightily strengthened (Williams); to be strengthened with power (Lenski 492).
[ 55 ]EIS TON ESOO ANTHROOPON, in the inward man (Marshall 765); the rational and moral I; the essence of the man which is conscious of itself as a moral personality (Vincent 3.383); after verbs of motion, EIS denotes into (Vine 591).
[ 56 ]KATOIKEESAI TON CHRISTON DIA TEES PISTEOOS EN TAIS KARDIAIS HUMOON, to dwell Christ=that Christ may dwell through faith in the hearts of you (Marshall 765); KATOIKEESAI is the first aorist active infinitive of KATOIKEOO (Han 360); to settle down and abide (Vincent 3.383); the infinitive is sometimes used to express a command or exhortation (Nunn 137); the aorist tense of the verb might suggest the rendering "that Christ may take up residence in your hearts" (Bruce 327).
[ 57 ]EN AGAPEE ERRIZOOMENOI KAI TETHEMELIOOMENOI, in love having been rooted and having been founded (Marshall 765); ERRIZOOMENOI is the perfect passive participle, nominative plural masculine of RHIZOOO; TETHEMELIOOMENOI is the perfect passive participle, nominative plural masculine of THEMELIOOO (Han 360); grounded or founded [from THEMELION foundation] (Vincent 3.384); rooted and well-founded in love (Bruce 327); you must be deeply rooted, your foundations must be strong (Williams); firmly foundationed.
[ 58 ]"That you may have strength" is from the Greek HINA EXISCHUSEETE in Ephesians 3:18.
[ 59 ]The pagan temple of Diana was 220 x 425 with 107 pillars each sixty feet high (Macknight 332); 225 x 425 feet, supported by 127 sixty-foot high marble columns, 32 of which were beautifully carved (Lipscomb 9; see note on Eph 2:2).
[ 60 ]HINA EXISTHUSEETE KATALABESTHAI, in order that ye may have strength to apprehend (Marshall 765); KATALABESTHAI is the second aorist middle infinitive of KATALAMBANOO (Han 360); properly signifies to lay hold of; then, to lay hold of so as to possess as one's own, to appropriate . . . of mental perception (Vine 62); may be strong enough to grasp the idea (Williams); you may be strong to grasp (Lenski 492).
[ 61 ]Dimensional language was employed several times in Gnostic literature (see Bruce 327). I understand Paul's dimensions to indicate fullness.
[ 62 ]GNOONAI TE TEEN AGAPEEN TOU CHRISTOU, and to know the love of Christ (Marshall 766; Bruce 324); GNOONAI is the second aorist active infinitive of GINOOSKOO (Han 360); to be taking in knowledge, to come to know, recognize, understand, or to understand completely . . . in its past tenses it frequently means to know in the sense of realizing, the aorist or point tense usually indicating definiteness (Vine 627); practically, through experience; while apprehended marks the knowledge as conception (Vincent 3.385); acknowledge (Clarke 5.448); yes, to come at last to know the love of Christ (Williams); to get to know also, the knowledge surpassing love of the Christ (Rotherham); .
[ 63 ]TEN HUPERBALLOUSAN TEES GNOOSEOOS, the excelling knowledge (Marshall 766); which surpasses mere knowledge without the experience of love (Vincent 3.385); exceeding this knowledge (Lenski 492); which surpasses knowledge (Bruce 324).
[ 64 ]HINA PLEEROOTHEETE EIS PAN TO PLEEROOMA TOU THEOU, that ye may be filled to all the fullness of God (Marshall 766); that you may be filled with the perfect fullness of God (Williams); with respect to all the fullness of God (Lenski 498); so that you may attain to fullness of being, the fullness of God himself (NEB).
[ 65 ]Clarke 5.448, 449.
[ 66 ]"Grace for grace" probably means more and more grace.
[ 67 ]TOO DE DUNAMENOO, now to the [one] being able (Marshall 766); DUNAMENOO is the present passive participle, dative singular masculine of DUNAMAI (Han 360); to be able, to have power (Vine 4); to be able, have power (Zodhiates 485).
[ 68 ]POIEESAI HUPEREKPERISSOU, to do superabundantly (Marshall 766); superabundantly . . . "unto Him who is able to do beyond all, exceedingly above that which" (Vincent 3.385).
[ 69 ]Bruce 331.
[ 70 ]EIS PASAS TAS GENEAS TOU AIOONOS TOON AIOONOON, unto all the generations of the age of the ages (Marshall 766); unto all the generations of the age of the ages (Vincent 3.479).

Copyright ©2002, Charles Hess, Ridgefield, Washington, U.S.A.
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The basic text, and all quotations not designated otherwise, are from the New King James Version, copyrighted ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Bracketed alternatives are drawn from various sources such as the ASV, Darby, KJV and RSV. Greek transliteration follows the BibleSoft method.

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