Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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EPHESIANS - Chapter 3

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Ephesians 3

Supplemental Commentary:

I.  DOCTRINAL  1, 15 -- 3, 21 (continued)

2.  Paul's Commission to Preach the Mystery  3, 1-13

3, 1-6:  Paul Instructed.    1.  St. Paul speaks of himself as Apostle of the Gentiles, and deals with the subject of the mystery confined to him.  This mystery, hitherto veiled, was that Jews and Gentiles should be united in the Church.

3, 7-13:  Assigned to Preach to the Gentiles.  St. Paul had been made a herald of the gospel, though he was the weakest of men, by the power of Almighty God.  He had been empowered to announce among the Gentiles the mysterious plans of God.  This economy, or dispensation, fills even the angels with admiration.  He had helped open to men confident access to God.  Remembering this, his readers will not be down-hearted when they hear that he is in prison.  His sufferings, arising from this endeavors to make Christ known to the Gentiles, were their glory.

It must be remarked here that a forger would hardly have thought of keeping people from being scandalized by his imprisonment; neither would he have called St. Paul "the very least among the saints" (8).

3.  A Prayer for His Readers  3, 14-21

This prayer is addressed to the Father, from whom all the choirs of angels as well as all the families of men have their name and their existence.  The word "father" in Greek and Latin suggested the thought that God is the head and the source of all families in heaven and on earth.  Recalling that this God is rich in grace and in every other glorious perfection, St. Paul begs that He may powerfully strengthen his readers in the inner man.  This "inner man" may be the man spoken of in Rom. 7, 22, where we read that the inner man delights in the law of God though his nature is too weak to live up to it.  The "inner man" is not than the "new man," regenerated by the Holy Spirit, but the man endowed with reason and conscience who approves the better things.  The next petition, that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith, indicates how one may be strengthened; the Apostle prays that we  may be rooted and grounded in love and enabled to understand the love of Christ for us---its breadth and length and height and depth.    18 f.  Some commentators think St. Paul is speaking of the greatness of the mystery as he has set it forth---its height, etc.  But though the construction is not smooth, the  immediate context indicates rather love as the object of knowledge.  In order that you may be filled unto the fullness of God, i.e., (according to Newman) the fullness "of which God is the fountain-head."    20 f.  Doxology: blessed be God who is capable of granting us even more than we ask for or think of!

Confraternity Bible:

Paul Instructed  1 For this reason, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you, the Gentiles--- 2 for I suppose you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God that was given to me in your regard; 3 how that by revelation was made known to me the mystery, as I have written above in brief; 4 and so by reading you can perceive how well versed I am in the mystery of Christ, 5 that mystery which in other ages was not known to the sons of men, as now it has been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit: 6* namely, that the Gentiles are joint heirs, and fellow-members of the same body, and joint partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Assigned to Preach to the Gentiles  7 Of that gospel I was made a minister by the gift of God's grace, which was given to me in accordance with the working of his power.  8 Yes, to me, the very least of all saints, there was given this grace, to announce among the Gentiles the good tidings of the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to enlighten all man as to what is the dispensation of the mystery which has been hidden from eternity in God, who created all things; 10 in order that through the Church there be made known to the Principalities and the Powers in the heavens the manifold wisdom of God 11 according to the eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.  12 In him we have assurance and confident access through faith in him.  13 Therefore I pray you not to be disheartened at my tribulations for you, for they are your glory.

14 For this reason I bend my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth receives its name, 16 that he may grant you from his glorious riches to be strengthened with power through his Spirit unto the progress of the inner man; 17 and to have Christ dwelling through faith in your hearts: so that, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know Christ's love which surpasses knowledge, in order that you may be filled unto all the fullness of God.

20 Now, to him who is able to accomplish all things in a measure far beyond what we ask or conceive, in keeping with the power that is at work in us---21 to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus down through all the ages of time without end.  Amen.


6: The same body: the one mystical body of Christ, which is a central idea of this Epistle.