Ephesians 3

Ephesians 3:4

By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,

The mystery of Christ is that Jesus is the Savior of the world and that the Gentiles are heirs of salvation along with Israel (Eph. 3:6).

See entry for Mysteries of God.

Ephesians 3:7

of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.

(a) I was made a minister. Although Paul was an educated Pharisee, the grace of God qualified and empowered him to be a gospel herald and a minister of the new covenant (1 Cor. 3:10, 15:10, Gal. 2:9). Similarly, the grace of God empowered the apostles (Acts 4:33), Stephen (Act 6:8), and every believer since (Rom. 12:6, 1 Pet. 4:10).

You are not qualified or disqualified on account of your pedigree or education; you are qualified by the Lord and empowered by his grace.

(b) The gift of God’s grace cannot be earned through good works or law-keeping (Rom. 11:6, Gal. 2:21, 2 Tim: 1:9). It can only be received through faith (see entry for Eph. 2:8).

Ephesians 3:9

and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things;

(a) Bring to light. Now that Christ has come, it is no secret that God has included the Gentiles in his rescue mission (see entry for Eph. 1:9).

(b) The mystery; see entry for Eph. 3:4.

Ephesians 3:10

so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.

(a) Manifold. The original word (polupoikilos) is made up of two words meaning many (polus) and motley (poikilos). God’s wisdom comes in many forms and expressions far beyond what we can imagine. Yet God has chosen the humble church to display his multifaceted wisdom to heavenly rulers and authorities.

Ephesians 3:12

in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.

Access through faith. We come to the throne of grace by faith alone.

All of God’s blessings, including forgiveness, salvation, righteousness and sanctification, come to us freely by grace and are received by faith. Faith does not compel God to forgive us or sanctify us. But faith is the conduit through which grace flows. See entry for Faith.

Ephesians 3:14-15

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,

(a) I bow my knees. You don’t need to kneel when you talk to your heavenly Father, but kneeling puts us in a posture of humility and reverence. Jesus kneeled in prayer (Luke 22:41), and so did Peter (Acts 9:40), Solomon (2 Chr. 6:13), Ezra (Ezra 9:5), Daniel (Dan. 6:10), and others (Acts 20:36, 21:5).

(b) The Father. In this letter Paul says that God is the Father of Jesus (Eph. 1:3), the Father of all who believe (Eph. 2:18), the Father of humanity (Eph. 4:6), and the Father of all creation in heaven and on earth (Eph. 3:15). His Father’s heart embraces his creation. No one can say, “God hates me” or “I am beyond the reach of his love.”

(c) Family. The original word for family (patria) is derived from the word for father (patēr). Families are signposts to the Father of all.

Although God is the Father of all (Mal. 2:10, Acts 17:29, 1 Cor. 8:6), the phrase “children of God” usually refers to believers (Rom. 9:8, 1 John 5:2). See entry for Children of God.

Ephesians 3:16-19

that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

(a) Strengthened with power through His Spirit. We sometimes pray that God would shrink our problems, but God wants to enlarge our capacity. The size of your problem is all a matter of perspective. David the shepherd boy stood up to the giant because he knew the size of his God.

How does the Holy Spirit strengthen us? He does by reminding us how who God is and how much he loves us. In scripture, love and power are connected (2 Tim. 1:7).

(b) So that Christ may dwell in your hearts. Christ does indeed dwell or abide in the believer (1 John 4:15) and he will never leave (2 John 1:2). Paul is praying that “you may know the reality of Christ who is in you and that you will live from that union rather than trying to live independently from him.”

(c) Being rooted and grounded in love. Since this letter is devoid of apostolic rebukes and corrections, we might conclude that the Ephesians were model believers. Yet Paul prays that these solid Christians would get a deeper revelation of Jesus (Eph. 1:17-23) and his love (Eph. 3:16-16). These are good things to pray at the best of times, but they have special relevance here.

The Ephesians, despite all their success, were drifting. In a few years, they will get another letter, this one from the Lord himself, saying they have left their first love (see entry for Rev. 2:4). Those who were once rooted and grounded in the love of Christ wandered from it. They were so busy doing church that they forgot to keep the main thing the main thing.

(d) May be able to comprehend … the breadth and length and height and depth. This is an astonishing request. “May you grasp the ungraspable, comprehend the incomprehensible, and know the unknowable.” This prayer can never be fully answered because Christ’s love for you is greater than you can comprehend. Yet it remains an important prayer. Just as we go to the gym to stretch our physical muscles, we stretch our faith muscles by trying to grasp the love of Christ. Try and locate the boundary of Christ’s love for you and you will never succeed. But the workout will do you good.

(e) To know the love of Christ. The question is not “do you love God?”, but “do you know how much he loves you?” Paul prayed that the Ephesians might know the “love of Christ.” When you know how good God is and how much he loves you, he is easy to trust.

(f) Which surpasses knowledge. Trying to wrap your head around the love of Christ love is like trying to drain the ocean with a thimble. Or a sieve. It’s an impossible challenge, but we have an eternity to explore the furthest reaches of his love.

(g) That you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Spiritual growth happens only one way – by feasting on the love of God revealed to us in Jesus. Don’t ever pray, “God help me to love you more,” or “Help me to love others.” Instead pray, “God, help me to know your love.” And as you receive from the abundance of his love, you will find yourself loving more.

God’s love is like food for us. We need it to live. We need to stay rooted and grounded in his love so that we may grow. We cannot live full or abundant lives any other way, because anything that may take the place of his love will leave us unsatisfied.

Ephesians 3:20-21

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

When we know the limitless love of Christ (Eph. 3:16-19), we experience the abundant provision of God. God surely loves everyone. But only those who receive his love are blessed.

The Grace Commentary is a work in progress with new content added regularly. Sign up for occasional updates below. Got a suggestion? Please use the Feedback page. To report typos or broken links on this page, please use the comment form below.


Leave a Reply