3. Paul's part in making all one in Christ, 3:1-21

i] The mystery revealed and proclaimed


In the passage before us, Paul reminds his readers that God, in his kindness, has revealed a divine "mystery" to him and that he, a man who once persecuted the church, has been given the task of revealing this mystery to the Gentiles. The mystery, a secret once hidden, now revealed, concerns "the boundless riches of Christ", or put more simply, it is the gospel of God's free grace in Christ.


i] Context: See 1:1-2. Having established that Gentiles are incorporated into God's household, as equal partners with his historic people Israel, by grace through faith, Paul sets out to pray that love may flourish in this new community, 3:1. But, before embarking on the prayer, Paul has something more to say on the subject of the new community in Christ, namely, the operation of the mystery / gospel in making all one in Christ, along with his part in that operation, 3:2-13. He then returns to the prayer, praying that "the Ephesian believers might know Christ's strengthened love which surpasses all knowledge", Hoehner, 3:14-21.


Paul uses the rhetorical techniques of the day to progress his argument, although Ephesians doesn't quite fit the mold. A discourse which is designed to persuade usually begins with an exordium, an introduction, sometimes a narratio, a narrative section, and then the argument proper, the probatio, followed by exhortation, the exhortatio. Chapter 3 may fall into the classification of a digressio, a digression where specific elements of the argument / probatio are further developed. However we classify chapter 3, Paul moves to speak of his part in making known the mystery for the creation of the new community in Christ, of the all-one in Christ, and then goes on to pray for love in that community.


ii] Background: See 1:1-2.


iii] Structure: The administration of the mystery:

Paul's administration of the mystery as it relates to the participation of the Gentiles in the people of God, v2-7;

Paul's administration of the mystery as it relates to God's plan for the realms of earth and heaven, v8-12;

Paul's part in God's plan, v8-9;

The purpose of God's plan, v10-12;

Paul's suffering due to his administration of the mystery has a grand purpose, namely, glory to the Gentiles, v13.


iv] Interpretation:

Having addressed the issue of the new Israel, the temple of God, inclusive of both Jew and Gentile, Paul sets out to pray for this new community, but immediately he pulls aside to explain his part in building God's new temple through the revelation of the mystery. He picks up on his prayer again in v14.

A musthrion, "mystery", in the NT, is a secret now revealed. In Ephesians it is often argued that the mystery is "the union of believing Jews and Gentiles (on the basis of Christ's redemption) in one body, the church", Hoehner; "the summing up of the All in Christ", Best. It certainly presents this way in the passage before us, but it is unlikely the sense intended by Paul. In 1 Corinthians 2:1 the mystery is salvation through the cross of Christ, while in Romans 16:25 Paul links his preaching of the gospel of salvation with making known the mystery. In Colossians the content of the mystery is Christ, "Christ in you, the hope of glory", cf., 2:2, 4:3. So, the mystery is actually the gospel, "what God has done in Christ", Lincoln, and it is very unlikely that Paul has changed his tune in Ephesians.

Paul was given the privilege of making known the mystery, ie., "this grace was given to me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ", v8. Paul is addressing of the consequences of the communication of the mystery / gospel, namely, the creation of a new community in Christ, the one new man, where "Gentiles are heirs tother with Israel, members together of one body", v6, cf., O'Brien, p109-10; Caragounis, The Ephesian Myserion, 1977.


The manifold wisdom of God revealed to the spiritual powers in heavenly places, v10. "The rulers and authorities" are "heavenly beings, good and bad alike", O'Brien (see taiV arcaiV kai taiV exousiaiV below) who exist within "the spiritual environment in which unseen forces compete for man's allegiance", Caird (see en toiV epouranioiV below). Divine reconciliation realized in the formation of the one new man, the church, through the redemption wrought by Christ, reveals to these "heavenly beings" "the manifold wisdom of God." This making known to them is not just the making known of information (see gnwrisqh/ below), but the revelation of a life-changing power which engages the spiritual realm in the divine plan to reconcile all things in Christ, things on earth and things in heaven. The church is not only tasked with realizing oneness / unity as an expression of divine reconciliation for the promotion of human reconciliation, with one another and with God , but also for the reconciliation of the unseen forces of the cosmos.


v] Greek:

The passage begins in v1 with an anacoluthon (lost syntax) where Paul, responding prayerfully to the idea of Jews and Gentiles as God's temple, as one new person in Christ, commences an intercessory prayer, toutou carin, "for this reason .....", but breaks off to speak about the mystery of Christ and of his role of making it known to the Gentiles, v2-13. In v14 he picks up were he left off in v1 with toutou carin, "for this reason [I kneel before the Father]." The digression consists of three clauses in the Gk., v2-7, 8-12, 13, forming a single sentence consisting of 189 words. Verse 7 is most likely transitional linking the point made in the first clause with that of the second.


vi] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 3:1

The mystery, v1-13: i] Paul's intercessory prayer for the Gentiles begins, but at the mention of being a "prisoner of Christ" he moves into a digression, v1. "God has appointed him to enlighten them about the mystery, and as a result he undergoes suffering for them", O'Brien. Paul repeats this point in v13 when he again sets out to pray for the Ephesian believers.

toutou carin "for this reason" - for the sake of this. The preposition carin expresses cause / reason, "because of this / for the sake of this", toutou being anaphoric / referring back to the ideas presented in 2:11-22, so Best. Yet, as Merkle argues, it is likely that the construction replaces dia touto, again a causal construction, but treated as inferential, "therefore".

oJ desmioV (oV) "the prisoner" - [i paul] the prisoner. Nominative in apposition to "Paul", which is in apposition to "I". Paul is Christ's ambassador in chains.

tou Cristou (oV) "of Christ" - of christ [jesus]. The genitive is possessive, "Christ's prisoner", or relational, although Hoehner suggests it also expresses cause, "it was the cause of Christ that made him a prisoner."

uJper + gen. "for the sake of" - on behalf of [you gentiles]. Expressing advantage, "for the sake of / on behalf of."


ii] Paul's stewardship of the mystery, as it relates to the inclusion of the Gentiles in the people of God, v2-7. Paul reminds his readers that he was appointed by Christ to administer the communication of the gospel of God's grace to the Gentiles, oJti ("that is", assuming it is read), "the mystery", a secret mostly hidden in the past, but now fully revealed. So einai ("as a result of", inf. = adv., consecutive, but not epexegetic; see v7) the proclamation of the mystery / gospel, Gentiles are heirs with Israel, sharing together in the promised blessings of the covenant.

ei ge aor. "Surely [you have heard]" - if indeed [you heard]. The particle ge is emphatic, while the conjunction ei introduces a conditional clause, 1st. class, where the condition is assumed to be true, "if indeed, as is the case, you heard ....... then [I therefore ask you not to despair .....(v13)]." So, the protasis of the conditional sentence runs from v2 to 12, with the apodosis in v13. Although a rather long sentence, it is not unusual for a digression.

thn oikonomian (a) "about the administration" - the management, plan. The verb akouw, when meaning "to hear", usually takes the genitive, "hear of the administration" = "hear about / concerning the administration." Used of the administration / stewardship of a household, but also going on to mean the provision of a service, or an arrangement. Paul was given the honor of managing the communication of the gospel to the Gentiles.

caritoV (iV itoV) "[of God's] grace" - of the grace [of god]. The genitive is usually classified as adjectival, verbal, objective, "the administration concerning the grace of God", but better classified as epexegetic / of definition, or idiomatic / content, "the stewardship which comprises / consists of the grace of God", Merkle, Best, Larkin. The genitive "of God" is possibly ablative, expressing source / origin; "the grace that comes from God." Here possibly of God's kindness toward Paul in giving him the privilege of managing gospel-outreach to the Gentiles. Although Paul persecuted the church, God "kindly gave" (grace) him the responsibility of taking the gospel to the Gentiles. Yet, "grace" here can also take the more common meaning of the mercy of God offered in the gospel - the gift of a free and eternal right-standing in the sight of God through faith in Christ. In this sense, Paul has the responsibility of administering the communication of God's grace in the gospel, entrusted to him for the Gentiles. This more common meaning seems best.

thV doqeishV (didwmi) aor. pas. part. "that was given" - having been given. The participle is adjectival, attributive, as NIV.

moi dat. pro. "to me" - Dative of indirect object.

eiV "for [you]" - to, into [you]. Here expressing advantage, as NIV; "for you."


Paul describes the gospel of grace as a "mystery" now revealed to him, cf., 1Cor.2:1. It is a mystery in that the message of the gospel was once hidden, but now revealed.

oJti "that is" - that. If original, this conjunction serves to introduce an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what "you have heard", as NIV.

to musthrion (on) "the mystery" - [according to revelation] the mystery, secret. Paul uses this word to describe a secret, or hidden truth, which is now revealed. It was once a secret and therefore a mystery, but now that the secret is revealed, it is no longer a mystery. The mystery, or secret, that Paul refers to, is the gospel of God's grace, or better, the gospel (in the sense of important message) which concerns God's grace. The phrase "the manifold wisdom of God", v10, further describes this mystery, as does the phrase "the unsearchable riches of Christ", v8, and "of Christ", v4. cf. Col.1:27, "Christ in you, the hope of glory", and Col.2:2, where the mystery is simply "Christ". At first glance, the mystery is further described in v 6, but this is misleading since Paul is speaking of the consequences of the gospel / mystery, namely the brotherhood of Jew and Gentile in Christ. It should be noted that most commentators do not hold this view, so for example, Hoehner, "Ephesians views God's sacred secret (the mystery) as believing Jews and Gentiles untied into one body."

moi dat. pro. "to me" - [was made know] to me. Dative of indirect object.

kata "by [revelation]" - according to [revelation]. Here adverbial, possibly expressing manner, or standard / reason, "in accord with / because of", Larkin / Lincoln, but better means, Hoehner, Merkle, "by means of revelation", as NIV. "It was by direct revelation that God told me of his secret plan", Barclay.

kaqwV "as" - just as. Introducing a concrete example / characteristic quality, rather than a comparison; similar to a Hebrew predicate accusative, "exactly as I have already written briefly".

proegraya (prograyw) aor. "I have already written" - i wrote before. "Written already" rather than "written before", as if to imply that Paul has written to the church in a previous letter. It is an aorist so best translated as a perfect here. He is simply saying he has already touched on this subject in this letter.

en + dat. "-" - in. The preposition here is probably adverbial, expressing manner, "with few words".

oligw/ dat. adj. "briefly" - little, few words. The adjective serves as a substantive; "I have already touched briefly on this matter in the opening section of my letter to you."


The substance of the mystery "of Christ" ("of Christ" in the sense of "revealed in the person and work of Christ") is something the Ephesians can understand because Paul has already touched on the subject in this letter.

proV o} "in reading this" - toward which. Here expressing reference, "with reference to [which]", Bruce, or standard, "in accordance with", O'Brien, Merkle.

anaginwskonteV (anaginwskw) pres. part. "to understand" - [you are able] reading [to understand]. The AV treats this participle as adverbial, temporal; "whereby, when ye read." This is followed by the complementary infinitive nohsai, "to understand", completing the verb dunasqe, "you are able." The participle may also be instrumental, "you are able, by reading, to understand." "As you read, you will ...... be able to comprehend", Cassirer.

sunesin (iV ewV) "insight" - the discernment, intelligence, understanding, insight [of me]. Often with en, "discernment in ......"

en "into" - in. Local, expressing sphere; "indicating in or into what Paul has insight", Hoehner, although Larkin suggests that here en is used for eiV, expressing goal; "my insight into the mystery relating to the Messiah."

tou Cristou (oV) gen. "of Christ" - [the mystery] of christ. O'Brien suggests that this adjectival genitive is most likely epexegetic, defining, "the mystery which consists in Christ", "the mystery which is disclosed in him", Bruce; the meaning of the mystery is exegeted in the person and work of Christ, cf., Col.4:2. Larkin opts for reference, "the mystery relating to Christ", Abbott, while Hoehner opts for a verbal genitive, objective, the mystery is about, or concerning Christ; "the hidden purposes (now revealed) which God was fulfilling in Christ", Mitton. An epexegetic sense seems best, in fact it is possible to say that the mystery is Christ, although this is not widely accepted. Those who argue that the mystery is the uniting of Gentile and Jewish Christians tend to hold that it is "of Christ"; it is only through Christ that the union of Jew and Gentile believers is attained, so for example Best, p304.


The Old Testament saints had an understanding of the mercy of God, but they had no insight into the extent of God's grace in and through the person and work of Christ. Only the apostles and New Testament prophets possess this insight.

o} "which [was made known]" - which [was revealed]. The antecedent of this pronoun is "the mystery."

toiV uiJoiV (oV) "to men" - to the sons [of men]. Dative of indirect object with the attributive genitive "of men" - a Semitic phrase; "in former times that secret was not told to men (revealed to mankind)", Barclay.

eJteraiV dat. pro. "in other]" - in other [generations]. Local dative, temporal, referring to a time before Paul's generation. Possibly "to other generations." For the Old Testament saints, the knowledge of the free grace of God was only understood in general terms.

wJV "as" - as, like [now it was revealed]. Expressing a comparison, yet a comparative sense for this adverbial phrase is somewhat tricky. A comparison of degree seems likely in that a limited understanding of the mystery of God's grace was available to God's people in the past. In fact, even if Gentile inclusion is taken as the meaning of the mystery, there was a limited understanding of divine inclusiveness, of "the stranger within the gates." So, the sense is "in the same degree as / not so clearly as", Caird. This is opposed by most commentators who take the conjunction here as descriptive rather than restrictive, such that "no revelation of this mystery was given in the OT, but that it was revealed for the first time in the NT era", Hoehner, so Mitton, O'Brien, Best, ...

en pneumati (a atoV) dat. "by the Spirit" - in spirit. The preposition en is instrumental, expressing means; "by means of the Spirit."

toiV aJgioiV dat. adj. "to God's holy" - to the holy [apostles of him and prophets]. Dative of indirect object. "Holy" probably qualifies both apostles and prophets. See 2:20.


The secret truth, now revealed, concerns God's free and gracious acceptance of all who trust Christ. For Paul, the implication is worth underlining - Jew and Gentile share the promise together, Rom.8:17, Gal.3:6-29.

ei\nai (eimi) pres. inf. "This mystery is that" - [the gentiles] to be. The infinitive is usually treated as epexegetic / appositional, expressing the content of "the mystery", v4, so "that is / namely." Most commentators regard that this is the intent of the infinitive and so treat the verse as a summary of the "mystery of Christ", v4, so O'Brien, Hoehner, Lincoln, Best, Schnackenburg, Mitton, Robinson. The lack of a demonstrative pronoun mitigates against this view. None-the-less, most translations head in this direction, some making a similar leap of exegetical faith as the NIV, eg. "and the mystery is this", CEV. Other commentators assume that the infinitive is introducing an object clause / dependent statement, expressing what "has been revealed by the Spirit", namely the content of "the mystery", giving the same sense as above, so Morris, Barth, Bruce. The AV is surely heading in the right direction by taking the infinitive as adverbial, introducing a final clause expressing purpose, "in order that through the gospel (mystery) the Gentiles may be joint heirs ..... [with Israel]", or possibly better, hypothetical result / result, "so that." What we have here is the gospel / mystery at work uniting Jew and Gentile. Paul's point is that the gospel / mystery (God's gracious offer of eternal acceptance through faith in Christ) serves to gather both Jew and Gentile into one body.

dia + gen. "through [the gospel]" - [joint heirs and a joint body and joint partakers of the promise] through, by means of [the gospel, news, important message]. Instrumental, expressing means.

sugklhronoma adj. "heirs together" - sharing inheritance together. The three compound words, all predicate accusatives of the verb to-be, are used by Paul to describe the joint relationship of Jews and Gentiles in Christ - the words are uncommon. Only sugklhronomoV is used elsewhere in the New Testament, Rom.8:17, Heb.11:9 and 1Pet.3:7. As a consequence of the gospel (the mystery), Gentiles are joint heirs with Israel, belonging to the same body (lit. coincorporate) and fellow partakers (joint-sharers) of the covenant promises now realized in Christ. "Share in", CEV.

thV epaggeliaV (a) gen. "in the promise" - of the promise. The genitive is probably adverbial, expressing association; "sharers together with the promise."

en + dat. "in" - in [christ jesus]. Locative, expressing sphere / incorporative union; "in union with Christ."


Paul was appointed by God to minister this mystery to the Gentiles. Of this appointment Paul says it was an act of divine grace, an act of kindness.

ou| gen. pro. "of this gospel" - of which. Referring to the genitive tou euaggeliou, "[through] the gospel", of v6, so "gospel" is understood. Lit. "of which I became a minister", ie., of the task of preaching the gospel of God's grace to the Gentiles. Paul is stating his function as apostle to the Gentiles.

diakonoV (oV) "minister" - [i became] a minister. Paul is a steward, or manager of Gentile evangelism.

kata + acc. "by [the gift]" - according to [the gift]. Expressing a standard / norm, "in accordance with", "in conformity with the gift of God's grace", or possible cause / reason, "because of ....." Paul's commission "arises from, and can only be understood within, the context of God's overflowing grace", O'Brien.

thV caritoV (iV itoV) "[of God's] grace" - of the grace [of god]. The genitive is adjectival, either epexegetic, "the gift that consists of God's grace", or appositional, "the gift which is God's grace", Hoehner. The genitive "of God" is possessive, "belonging to God", or ablative, source, "from God". Here definitely not used of God's saving grace in Christ, but of a "gift" of divine kindness exhibited in trusting Paul with the responsibility of gospel ministry to the Gentiles.

thV doqeishV (didwmi) gen. pas. part. "given" - having been given. The participle is adjectival, attributive; "which was given."

moi dat. "me" - to me. Dative of indirect object.

kata + acc. "through" - according to. Mitton suggests a rare adverbial usage here, manner / means, "by", as NIV here and above, but standard is to be preferred, Larkin; "according to the working of his power", Hoehner.

thn energeian (a) "the working" - the operation, effectual working, action. In describing God's work of dragging him from persecutor to Christian missionary, Paul uses the same language used of the power necessary to raise Christ from the dead, Eph.1:19.

thV dunamewV (iV ewV) gen. "of [his] power" - of the power [of him]. The genitive is probably adjectival, possibly attributive, limiting "working", "his powerful working", or attributed, "the effectiveness of his power", Cassirer.


iii] Paul's stewardship of the mystery in God's eternal purposes, v8-12. a) Paul explains how God's kindness ("grace") was applied to him, not just the least of the apostles, but "the least of all the Lord's people", v8-9. He was given the task of preaching a divine word to the Gentiles, the content of this communication being the mystery, the gospel of "the boundless riches of / concerning Christ."

tw/ elacistoterw/ dat. comp. adj. "although I am less than the least" - [to me] the least. The comparative is used for a superlative; "less than the least", NIV, etc. Standing in apposition to emoi, so taking the dative case. Probably Paul's own word-play for his Latin name "little". It is unlikely that Paul is overly embarrassed by his past life, rather, he writes with an understanding of God's forgiveness and total acceptance, able to declare openly that his "righteousness is but filthy rags."

pantwn agiwn gen. adj. "of all God's people" - of all holy ones [was given]. The genitive is adjectival, partitive, or comparative.

emoi dat. pro. "[this grace was given] me" - to me. Dative of indirect object. Emphatic by position and form.

euaggelisasqai (euaggelizw) aor. inf. "to preach" - [this grace] to preach. The infinitive may be verbal, so forming an adverbial clause expressing purpose, modifying the verb "was given"; "given in order to preach", Arnold. Then again, it may be epexegetic, specifying "grace"; "this grace was given to me, namely to preach to the Gentiles." Hoehner opts for the second option.

toiV eqnesin (oV) dat. "to the Gentiles" - Dative of indirect object.

to anexicniaston adj. "the unsearchable" - the unable to track, untraceable [wealth]. This adjective serves as a substantive, qualified by the adjectival genitive "of Christ", and serving as the object of the infinitive "to preach." Possibly "unexplorable / incomprehensible", but possibly better in a positive sense, "boundless". In Romans 11:33 Paul uses the same word in a similar context. The inclusion of the Gentiles in the covenant promises illustrates the depth of Christ's redeeming grace. "Unfathomable", REB. "Paul uses rhetorical language to show that his proclamation is about the wealth of divine grace and glory which Christ possesses in himself, and which he lavishly gives to others", O'Brien.

tou Cristou "of Christ" - of christ. The genitive is probably adjectival, epexegetic, "the unsearchable riches concerning Christ", Best, or possessive, O'Brien, but also possibly ablative, source, "from Christ", Larkin


Although the mystery was once hidden, God's intention was that all would inevitably understand his action-plan.

kai "and" - Here coordinating, linking the infinitival construction "to enlighten all" to "to preach to the Gentiles", although possibly epexegetic, such that "to make a plan ....." specifies what Paul means by "to preach to the Gentiles."

fwtisai (fwtizw) aor. inf. "to make plain" - to bring to light, make see, shed light upon, enlighten. The infinitive here takes the same sense as euaggelisasqai "to preach", in v8, ie., adverbial, expressing purpose, or epexegetic. Here "to make all see" is best, and this by means of the public disclosure of something hidden.

pantaV adj. "to everyone" - all. Strong variant accepted by most translations. The adjective serves as a substantive, accusative direct object of "to enlighten"; "all human beings", as NIV.

tivV "-" - what. Interrogative pronoun; "what is the arrangement with respect to the mystery?"

hJ oikonomia (a) "the administration [of this mystery]" - is the management, stewardship, the provision of, the arrangement [of the mystery]. Predicate nominative of an assumed verb to-be; "what is the administration." In v2, the "administration" is Paul's administration, in the sense of an assignment given to Paul for him to manage, but here it is the same as 1:10, "a plan for the fullness of time." As such, it is more likely God's plan of action, strategy, and therefore refers to His provision and organization of the intended blessings associated with the mystery / gospel. The "inner workings", NJB, of the mystery is God's business, and it was Paul's privilege to make them known.

tou apokekrummenou (apokruptw) gen. perf. pas. part. "which [for ages past] was kept hidden" - having been hidden. The participle is adjectival, attributive, as NIV.

apo + gen. "from" - from [the ages]. Temporal use of the preposition.

en + dat. "in" - in [god]. Local, expressing sphere.

tw/ .... ktisanti (ktizw) dat. aor. part. "who created" - the one having created [all things]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "God".


b) Paul outlines the purpose / intent of God's plan, namely that God's manifold wisdom realized in the church (the gathering of believers), through the redemption of Christ, might be made known to the spiritual powers and authorities in heavenly places, v10-12. The ministry of the gospel of God's grace (the mystery) was graciously given to Paul in order that, through the building of an inclusive church in Christ, the extent of God's multi-layered wisdom might be revealed to the powers and authorities, before whom "this object lesson of divine wisdom is displayed", Bruce.

iJna + subj. "His intent was that" - that [might be made known]. Introducing a final clause, expressing purpose, "in order that", modifying the verb "[this grace] was given [to me]", v8, so Best. "To the intent that", rather than "His intent was that", given that "his" is not in the Greek; "so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known .....", ESV.

nun adv. "now" - Temporal adverb.

dia + gen. "through [the church]" - through, by means of [the assembly, church]. Instrumental, expressing means. The church is the intermediate agent through which the revelation of God's grace is mediated to the rulers and authorities.

polupoikiloV adj. "manifold" - the many-faceted, many-colored. A poetic sense is possible, "variegated, an intricately embroided pattern of many hues; "richly diversified wisdom", O'Brien, possibly "multi-layered".

tou qeou (oV) gen. "of God" - [wisdom] of god. The genitive is possibly ablative, expressing source / origin, "from God", or adjectival, possessive, "God's wisdom", O'Brien.

gnwrisqh/ (grwrizw) aor. pas. subj. "should be made known" - might be made known. This word is never well rendered in English because knowledge for us is intellectual, whereas intellectual assent is not the knowing referred to here. The spiritual powers are not being given interesting information, but rather life-changing revelation. This is the kind of knowing realized in marriage. God's intention is that His gracious action-plan for humanity, contained in the gospel (the "mystery" - "the manifold wisdom of God") and evidenced in the creation of a church consisting of both Jew and Gentile believers, should engage with the "rulers and authorities ....." The evidential reconciliation of Jew and Gentile in the Christian fellowship, is the starting point for God's gracious plan of reconciliation through Christ, a reconciliation that effects both on earth and in heaven (the spiritual realm, not God's dwelling place). The church serves to display to the rulers and authorities the knowledge that "through faith in Christ we may approach God with freedom and confidence", v12.

taiV arcaiV (a) dat. "to the rulers" - to the principalities [and the powers]. Dative of indirect object. The words can refer to secular authorities, but here probably spiritual forces in "heavenly places." In 6.12 they are not flesh and blood, but are spiritual (forces / hosts?). It is not overly clear whether they a good or evil. The implication seems to be that they are both, "the principalities and powers are neither wholly good, nor wholly bad", Caird / "the whole host of heavenly beings, good and bad alike", O'Brien, or in more general terms, "angelic rulers", Hoehner. One wonders why God wishes to display reconciliation at work in the church to these spiritual beings. It seems that reconciliation in the church, the one new man, through Christ, is but a foretaste of cosmic reconciliation. In this our guardian angels rejoice, while Satan and his minions tremble, and work even harder to destroy the apple of God's eye.

en + dat. "in" - in [the heavenlies]. The en is local, expressing space / sphere. As already indicated,"the heavenly places" is not referring to God's place of residence, but rather the spiritual domain. The location of this domain depends on ones cosmology, eg., between earth and heaven, in the waters surrounding the earth and sky, the lower reaches of heaven, etc.... Caird's definition is worth considering: "the spiritual environment in which unseen forces compete for man's allegiance." The fourth dimension???


This verse explains God's sovereign intent in the process of reconciliation, achieved through Christ.

kata + acc. "according to" - Expressing a standard, "in accordance with."

twn aiwnwn (wn wnoV) gen. "eternal [purpose]" - [the = his plan] of the ages. The genitive is probably adjectival, attributive, as NIV, "eternal plan", or possibly subjective, "the purpose that runs through the ages", Abbott, or it may even be objective, "the purpose about / concerning the ages", or it may even be adverbial as in Romans 8:28. If the latter, "in accordance with" may dictate its meaning here, although as a descriptive genitive, v11 and 12 then serve to further exegete what is revealed. The plural "ages" = eternal. "The purpose of the ages", RV. "According to the eternal purpose" , Mitton / Bruce.

epoihsen (poiew) aor. "he accomplished" - [which] he made, did. Possibly "make a plan", Calvin, although better "accomplish a plan", as NIV. "God's making known his many-splendid wisdom through the church to the authorities in the heavenly realms was his intent from all eternity, and he has now accomplished this in Christ Jesus", O'Brien.

en + dat. "in]" - in [christ jesus]. Local, identifying the sphere in which God's purposes were accomplished.

tw/ kuriw/ dat. "Lord" - the lord [of us]. Dative in apposition to "Christ Jesus."


Paul further explains the content of the "manifold wisdom." God's purposes are accomplished through Christ's faithfulness ("faithfulness of him" rather than "faith in him") which believers appropriate in union with him.

en + dat. "in [him]" - in [whom]. Local, expressing the sphere of our identification with Christ in his accomplishment of the divine purpose.

dia + gen. "through" - through, by means of. Instrumental, expressing means.

autou gen. pro. "[faith] in him" - [faith] of him. Usually regarded as an objective genitive, as NIV, where the faith does not belong to "him", the subject, namely Christ, but to the one who believes and who places their faith "in Christ". Far too many adjectival genitives are classified as verbal, objective, and this is a classic example. Those commentators who question an objective classification, opt for subjective, so Best, Barth, O'Brien, but surely it is simply possessive. God's purposes are accomplished through / by means of the faithfulness of Christ which believers appropriate en w|/, "in him." See notes on "faith / faithfulness of Jesus Christ"

parrhsian (a) "freedom" - [we have] boldness, confidence, freedom, plainness of speech. In Greek society the word was used of the right and freedom of a person to speak openly and plainly in a democratic society. Probably here of the right of a person, through Christ, to approach God.

en + dat. "-" - [and access] in [confidence]. The preposition is being used adverbially, expressing manner, "with confidence." The word is only used 6 times in the NT. "In complete confidence", NJB.


iv] Paul's sufferings, due to his stewardship of the mystery, are not a source of discouragement, and this because of the outcome, v13. Here Paul asks the Ephesians not to lose heart due to his afflictions / his imprisonment.

dio "therefore" - therefore [i ask you]. Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion. Introducing the apodosis of the conditional clause which began in v2.

mh egkakein (egkakew) pres. inf. "not to be discouraged" - not to be a coward, to be discouraged, lose heart. The infinitive serves to introduce a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what Paul asks. Paul's readers should not be discouraged by Paul's sufferings, for his work in the gospel is to their gain and glory. There is a sense where suffering prepares us for our reign with Christ, 2Cor.4:17. Paul notes in Colossians 1:24-25, that the suffering of one member of the body of Christ is shared by all. So, as he suffers from his house arrest in Rome, there is glory to be found in it for Paul and therefore, glory for all his brothers and sisters in the Lord.

en + dat. "because of" - in. Here functioning adverbially: attendant circumstance; or manner; or as NIV, causal, "on account of / because of", so O'Brien, Lincoln; or instrumental, "by means of", "so then, it is my prayer that you will not be discouraged by the troubles I am going through", Barclay.

mou gen. pro. "my [sufferings]" - [the sufferings, afflictions] of me. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, in that the suffering is his, he possesses the experience, but often viewed as verbal, objective, "I suffer [something]", Merkle.

uJper + gen. "for" - for [you]. Expressing advantage; "for the sake of, for the benefit of."

h{tiV pro. "which" - Although an indefinite relative pronoun, it is actually referring to something that is definite, namely Paul's tribulations, and it takes the number of its predicate, namely singular, rather than its antecedent, which is plural, namely tribulations, not tribulation. Hoehner views it is taking a causal sense; "the reason that they should not lose heart due to his sufferings was because it was their glory."

doxa (a) "glory" - [is] glory [of you]. Predicate nominative of the verb to-be. "Glory" here, not in the sense of "prestige = benefit", but in the sense of last-days-glory / eschatological glory. Suffering is a prelude to glory, and Paul "views himself as contributing to the completion of the messianic woes prior to the consummation in glory", O'Brien.


Ephesians Introduction



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