EPHESIANS 3 以弗所书 第三章

I. The Divine Mystery (3:1-13)

A. The Stewardship of the Mystery (vv.1-6)

  1. The phrase “For this reason” refers back to the unity of the church in the previous chapter. The point here is that Paul had been given a stewardship. The concept of the Christian as a steward was common in New Testament time. The steward was a household manger entrusted by the master of the house with the responsibility of taking care of things for him. The grace of God that Paul had described at such length had been given to him for a specific purpose.

  2. As Paul had indicated in 1:9, the inclusion of the Gentiles was a mystery – something no one could have foreseen. But now the secret was open because God had revealed it to Paul in his conversion and call to missions. In verse 6 Paul summed up the mystery for his readers: “that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ through the gospel.”

  3. The content of the mystery is Christ – Christ for us in giving His life on our behalf and now Christ is us – accomplishing His purpose by working in each member of His body.

  4. This mystery is received spiritually (vv. 4-5) and demonstrated in the proclamation of the gospel. Part of the mystery involves the disclosure that Gentiles share in the blessings of the gospel (2:11-13).

B. Paul Made a Minster (vv. 7-13)

1. Paul’s Ministry

  1. In verse 6 Paul mentioned the focus of his ministry. This was not something he chose for himself; he was made a servant of the gospel by God. He considered himself “the least of all God’s people” (v. 8).

  2. Before his conversion, Paul was one of the leading persecutors of the church. For him to become a minister of the gospel was a complete reversal of his life’s course and not his own accomplish-ment. This happened through the working of God’s power. Paul referred to his appointment as a gift of God’s grace. The purpose of his appointment was “to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery” (vv. 8-9). Paul traced this mystery all the way back to creation.

2. God’s Plan

  1. God chose to unfold His wise and wonderful plan in the arena of the church. Here we see God’s work of redeeming and unifying taking place.

  2. Paul used an interesting word to describe God’s wisdom. The word translated “manifold wisdom” is a compound word made up of the prefix much or many and the word many-sided. It describes something as being “(very) many-sided,” “many-faceted,” or “many-colored.” Paul wanted his readers to understand that this wisdom was richly diversified.

  3. One result of this revealing process taking place is the church. God’s plan was made known to the “rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places” (v. 10). Angels, both good and bad, were learning about God’s grace as it was being revealed in the church. God’s plan to undo the work of evil power was successful.

3. The Believer’s Access to God

  1. God’s plan, however, was more than a successful operation. It became a personal experience. In Christ we have a free approach to God.

  2. Rather than being overwhelmed by the greatness and power of God’s magnificent plan, the believer in Christ finds herself or himself in a close personal relationship with God. Christ give to him the boldness and confidence to come to God in faith.

II. Prayer and Praise (3:14-21)

A. Paul’s Prayer of Intercession for His Readers (vv. 14-19)

  1. Paul now returned to the prayer he began in verse 1 and prayed that his readers would experience strength through the Holy Spirit and grasp the depth of God’s love for them. Obviously, his vision of God’s grand grace and the blessings of Christ moved Paul to an attitude of humility and prayer.

  2. Paul again referred to God’s “glorious riches.” From such vast resources God can supply all the needs of His people. These are resources which His people may draw upon in prayer. Having defined this resource, Paul went on to ask for several blessings from these riches to be given to his readers. Paul made five requests for his readers:

  3. Inner Strength (v. 16) The “inner man” is the center of a person’s life. Herein lies a person’s real strength. The believer’s strength comes from God, who is present and active in a believer’s life. His power works in and through the believer.

  4. “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (v. 17) The strength God gives is Himself, which Paul explains with his request “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”

  5. A new orientation toward others (v. 17) With a new inner strength and the presence of Christ dwelling within, the believer has a new orientation toward others. Love is the foundation of the believer’s life, and so Paul requested in this prayer that his readers be “rooted and grounded in love.”

  6. Spiritual understanding (v. 18) Paul wanted his readers to comprehend the dimensions of Christ’s love. His request was that they “may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth” of the love of Christ. The word for “power” is a compound word that conveys the sense of being “thoroughly strong” or able to grasp Christ’s love. They are to exert this strength and power until they comprehend the dimensions of the love of Christ.

  7. To be filled with the fullness of God (v. 19) This is God’s ultimate purpose for the lives of His people. God’s Spirit dwells in believers, and the Christian life is a process of growth to this end. In verse 19, Paul further explained that this love of Christ “surpasses knowledge.” Christ’s love excels beyond and surpasses what one might gain through knowledge. Paul wanted his readers to have more than an intellectual knowledge of God; he wanted them to experience the fullness of God.

B. Paul’s Doxology of Praise (vv. 20-21)

  1. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians reached a climax at this point. He delivered a stirring benediction, assuring his readers that God’s power at work within them was able to carry out His work more abundantly than they could imagine.

  2. The wonderful news to Paul’s readers is that this power was working in them! This power is active in all believers, and it is a means of glorifying God.