This middle post on Ephesians Chapter 3, consists of comments from two highly respected writers of Biblical commentaries. Dr. C.I. Scofield and Dr. R.C. Sproul provide excellent “food for thought” for the scriptures that are addressed. Wherever I may add a thought, I will precede such a comment with the notation of, “My Note.”
Scofield’s Notes, C. I. Scofield’s Study Reference
For over 90 years people have relied on this reference work in their daily study of God’s Word. Written originally in 1909, C. I. Scofield’s intent was to provide a concise but complete tool that would meet the need of someone just beginning to read the Bible. Cyrus Scofield was born in Lenawee County, Michigan, but during the American Civil War after his conversion to evangelical Christianity in 1879, Scofield assisted in the St. Louis campaign conducted by Dwight L. Moody and in 1883 Scofield was ordained as a Congregationalist minister, and he accepted the pastorate of small mission church founded by that denomination.
Ephesians 3 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Mystery Revealed
3 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. Purpose of the Mystery 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, 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. 13 Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
Appreciation of the Mystery
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, 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.
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.
Scofield’s Reference Notes
Grace (imparted). Ephesians 3:2-8; Ephesians 4:7; Ephesians 4:29;Romans 6:1; 2 Peter 3:18.
(See Scofield “Matthew 13:11”).
That the Gentiles
That the Gentiles were to be saved was no mystery Romans 9:24-33;Romans 10:19-21. The mystery “hid in God” was the divine purpose to make of Jew and Gentile a wholly new thing–“the church, which is his Christ’s body,” formed by the baptism with the Holy Spirit 1 Corinthians 12:12; 1 Corinthians 12:13 and in which the earthly distinction of Jew and Gentile disappears; Ephesians 2:14; Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 3:10;Colossians 3:11. The revelation of this mystery, which was foretold, but not explained by Christ Matthew 16:18 was committed to Paul. In his writings alone we find the doctrine, position, walk, and destiny of the church.
(See Scofield “Matthew 13:11”).
Dr. S.C. Sproul, Reformation Study Bible
Ephesians 3 English Standard Version (ESV)
The Mystery of the Gospel Revealed
1 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the (S)unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. 13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
Prayer for Spiritual Strength
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Comments By R.C. Sproul In The Reformation Study Bible:
3:1 Paul begins a prayer that his Gentile readers will be filled with the presence of Christ and be able to grasp the truth about their Redeemer’s love and power (vv. 14–21). Paul interrupts himself to explain the nature of his own ministry and insight into the union of Jew and Gentile in Christ (vv. 2–13).
prisoner. Paul is under house arrest in Rome (Acts 28:16, 30).
3:3 as I have written briefly. See 1:9, 10.
3:5 as it has now been revealed. The Old Testament’s silence about Paul’s mystery—the union of Jews and Gentiles in the church (v. 6)—was relative, not absolute. It was anticipated by the prophets (“Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance,” Is. 19:25). If the idea had been altogether absent from the Old Testament, Paul could not have said, as he did in Rom. 4, that the Abrahamic covenant included all who were of a like faith with Abraham, including Gentiles. Paul told Agrippa that his proclamation of light to both Jews and Gentiles did not go beyond what had been promised by Moses and the prophets (Acts 26:22, 23).
3:6 Gentiles are fellow heirs. Although the Old Testament gives occasional glimpses of a unified human race, only in the light of Christ’s sacrifice does God’s plan become clear: in one magnificent act He removed the enmity between Himself and humanity and also took away the divisions that fracture humanity (2:14–18). Paul had reflected before on the unusual way God included Gentiles among His people: contrary to the rules of agriculture, the Gentiles were a wild branch grafted into a cultivated tree (Rom. 11:11–24).
3:8 Compare the progression of Paul’s self-description from 1 Cor. 15:9 to Eph. 3:8 to 1 Tim. 1:15, 16.
3:14 bow my knees. Jews normally prayed standing (Matt. 6:5; Luke 18:11, 13). Kneeling appears to have been an expression of humility and urgency (Ezra 9:5; Luke 22:41; Acts 7:59, 60). This verse returns to the prayer Paul had begun introducing in v. 1 (note).
3:15 every family in heaven. Jewish intertestamental and rabbinic literature refers to families of angels.
3:16 in your inner being. This is some of Paul’s most pointed language about the work of the Holy Spirit within individuals (2 Cor. 5:17). Much of Ephesians addresses believers’ corporate identity (e.g., 4:3–6, 12–16). But Christ also dwells in individual hearts. Christianity is neither a common confession to the exclusion of individual experience, nor a private piety without corporate vision.
3:18 breadth and length and height and depth. These measures of space recall the temple image of 2:21. As the “living stones” (1 Pet. 2:5) are linked in love, God’s dwelling grows and is filled with Christ Himself. God uses the love among “all the saints”—Jew and Gentile alike—to build a whole that is greater than any of its individual parts. The spatial language exalts Christ’s love for His people—a love that is inclusive, inexhaustible, and self-sacrificing.
3:20 the power at work within us. See 1:19–23; 2:5, 6. The first half of the letter climaxes as Paul considers the overwhelming power of God, who carries out His gracious (2:7) and all-wise (v. 10) plan for the reconciliation of the human race.
3:21 glory. Because of the power that God has given to the church, Paul gives glory to Him.
in the church and in Christ Jesus. In this letter Paul uses a variety of images to describe the mutual relationship between the church and Christ: the body and the head (1:22, 23), the reconciled and the reconciler (2:14–18; 4:3), and the bride and her groom (5:22, 33).
Consider The Majesty Of God:
Ephesians 3:20: (NIV)
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
My comment: Consider the vastness of this statement. God can do things for His saints that defy imagination. He can not only do more than we can ask of Him; He can also do more than we can ever imagine. We can see in these inspired Words that God knows all of the things that we need, even if we don’t even know that we need such things. This statement of God’s power, as it relates to His saints, is made possible and true because of the fact that the Spirit of God indwells the spirit of every born again believer in Christ.
Consider Humility In Worship And Reverence Of God In Scriptures Past:
1 Kings 8:54 (NIV)
When Solomon had finished praying this entire prayer and supplication to the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread toward heaven.
Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
2 Chronicles 6:12-13 (NIV)
12 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands. 13 Now he had made a bronze platform, five cubits long, five cubits wide and three cubits high, and had placed it in the center of the outer court. He stood on the platform and then knelt down before the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven(and the he prayed, my note).
2 Chronicles 7:1-3, 21st Century King James Version (KJ21)
1 Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house.
2 And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house.
3 And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.
Nehemiah 8:5-6 (KJV)
5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up:
6 And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
Ephesians 3:14: (NIV)
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father,
Consider Humility In Worship And Reverence Of God In The Future.
Philippians 2:9-10 (NASB)
9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Summation of Humility: Solomon, the king of Israel, Ezra, a priest of Israel, and the people of Israel, showed reverence and humility to God, At a time, yet to be determined, all people who have ever lived in this world will kneel to God in reverence, and confess that Jesus is Lord. What should be our attitude of worship now?
Consider The Presence Of God In Our Lives. Consider the worshipful attitude that can be obtained as we listen to the music of Terry Mac Almon.
In The Presence Of Jehovah