Ephesians 3 - Mystery of the Body of Christ

Ephesians 3

I. Paul servant of salvation

A. Paul’s Revelation 1-6

1. To the Gentiles: For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles--

-Paul is talking about the revelation that he was given to bring to the Gentiles. This is the revelation that he was given on the road to Damascus. Gal. 1:15-17; Acts 9:1-22

2. Steward of the mystery of God’s Grace 2   if indeed you have heard of the stewardship 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),

-”steward” oikonomos - the steward of the house in those days was the man entrusted with the arrangements and administration of the house; the steward owned nothing but was entrusted by the master with the care of it.
-God has given to Paul the authority to speak and deliver this mystery to the Gentiles.
-whatever talent God has given you is to be used for others in the kingdom

3. Content of the Mystery 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 joint heirs, and a joint body, and joint partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel,

-Gentiles are going to be part of the people of God. (Is. 2:1-4) This was a major part of the mystery. The prophets had foretold the Gentiles worshipping the God of Judah, but the surprise was that the Gentiles would become part of the people of God. In this passage, they take on equality with Israel and not sub-par. Paul stresses this by once again using the Greek prefix sun-. He says they are joint-heirs, a joint-body, joint-partakers. God is doing more than just making Gentiles into Jews, He is creating a new man (2:15) which transcends Jew and Gentiles.

B. Paul the Servant 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. 8   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,

1. Servant of God’s grace
- Paul recognizes that his ministry is not due to anything in and of himself but is only a gift of God’s grace. “Least of all the saints” the word he is using here means trivial or unimportant or less than than the least.

2. Preaching to the Gentiles
-This is a great irony; that the man who was a Jew of Jews was called to bring Gentiles into the Church

C. Servant of the Mystery of our Salvation 9-13 9   and to make all see what is the stewardship 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. 13   Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

1. The Mystery was Hidden
-The stewardship; or as Farley calls it the “implemented strategy” is the plan that God used to administer salvation the world. This is something that God had hidden; yet all history was leading up to moment of Christ and the birth of the Church.

2. Revealed through Church
-The manifold wisdom is “many-sided”. God knit together all the events of history to fulfill His own purposes for our salvation. God chose to reveal this plan through the Church.
-The Church is what God is using to proclaim this mystery; not just to deliver a body of knowledge, but the Church is the body in which the mystery is experienced.
-”To the rulers and the authorities in the heavenlies” These are the angels. This plan is not focused just on man but is cosmic in nature and part of God’s salvation of all the cosmos. (1 Pet. 1:10-12)
3. Revealed in Christ
-Once again it all points to Christ; and we are united with Christ through the Church because the Church is His body.
4. We Now Have Access to the Father
- Because Christ is our Sacrifice we can have boldness to access God because we are united with Him through Christ.

II. Prayer for growth in salvation (14-21)

A. The Family of the Father (14-15) 14   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,

- Family in Greek is “patria” which comes from the word father “pater”; So family is really “fatherhoods”. So all “fatherhoods” find their ultimate source in God the Father.
-The Father is source of all; so Paul is looking to Him to accomplish this salvation in the Ephesians.

B. Signs of Growth (16-19) 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.

1. Strengthened in the Inner Man
- Here is that word dynamis again. Paul is praying that God will activate Christ’s own power that dwells in each of us through our Baptism.
- “Inner man” the part of us which is the image of God; the part of our soul that enables us to communicate and commune with God.
2. Christ is Dwelling Within
- We are so transformed that Christ makes His home in our hearts.
- This is through faith; the ongoing trust and obedience toward God causes us to reflect Christ.

3. You Will Know the Love of Christ
- Christ love which is the foundation for the spiritual life.
-Chrysostom “Although the love of Christ lies above the reach of all human knowledge, yet shall you know it, if you shall have Christ dwelling in you.”
- 1 Cor. 13
-”The breadth, length, height, depth” some of the Fathers (Augustine, St. Gregory of Nyssa) saw this as a reference to the cross. Nothing displays the love of God for the whole world than the Cross of Christ. St. Gregory of Nyssa “The apostle is describing by the figure of the Cross the power that controls and holds together the universe when he expresses a desire that they may be exalted to know the exceeding glory of this power...It manifests a great mystery: that both things in heaven, and things under the earth, and all the furthest bounds of the things that are, are ruled and sustained by Him Who gave an example of this unspeakable and mighty power in the figure of the Cross.”

4. You Will Experience the Fullness of God.
-Our goal is not just to be forgiven and get to heaven, or escape hell. Salvation is not mere “fire insurance” Salvation is about knowing God and being transformed by this knowledge. (2 Pet. 1:4)
-This mirrors the Early Father‘s slogan that ”God became man so that man might become like God”

C. Praise to the Father (20-21) 20   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.

-Paul began this prayer by praising God as the source of all good things. Now he ends with similar praise.
-Paul is amazed at what God has done and knows that He will continue to do those things that surpass what we understand.

Sources used:

Prison Epistles

The Orthodox New Testament

Ancient Christian Commentary

Also Chrysostom’s commentaries which can be found online here: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf113.html
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