Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Ephesians 3:1 - 3:7

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Paul Kretzmann Commentary - Ephesians 3:1 - 3:7

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

The Ministry of Paul for the Edification of the Church.

The revelation of knowledge to Paul:

v. 1. For this cause I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,

v. 2. if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you ward,

v. 3. how that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery, (as I wrote afore in a few words,

v. 4. whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ,)

v. 5. which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit,

v. 6. that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partaken of His promise in Christ by the Gospel,

v. 7. whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power.

In connection with the call of the Gentiles, Paul here discusses his apostolic vocation: For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus in behalf of you Gentiles. It is a very emphatic expression with which Paul opens this chapter. Because his readers, the majority of whom had been Gentiles, had now been brought near, had been made members of the household of God, therefore they should earnestly consider what he urges on them and what he does for them. Paul was at that time bound, a prisoner in Rome, waiting for the disposal of his case before the imperial court. He calls himself the prisoner of Christ in behalf of the Gentiles, because he was suffering this imprisonment for work done in his capacity as minister of Christ, and because it had been principally his proclamation of the Gospel among the Gentiles that had caused his arrest. Both the enmity of the Jews and the suspicion of the Roman government had been drawn down upon Paul because he preached Christ Crucified so fearlessly.

The thought of his apostolic ministry now causes Paul to digress with the purpose of bringing home to the Ephesians the scope and the glory of this ministry: If, indeed, you did hear of the administration of the grace of God given me toward you. Here is a tactful, gentle appeal: If so be that I may assume, if my trust in you was not misplaced; conveying the hope that his words had not been quite forgotten. God's special gift of grace to Paul was his apostleship among the Gentiles. Of this fact the Ephesian Christians had received information from the mouth of Paul himself; they had witnessed also how he had administered his office in their midst; they had heard, finally, how he was performing the work of his calling in other heathen countries.

The term "gift of God's grace" is now further explained: That by way of revelation was made known unto me the mystery. Even at the time of his conversion, when the Lord appeared to him on the way to Damascus, He had informed him of his call as apostle to the Gentiles, thereby revealing to him the mystery of his vocation. Paul had received neither the information concerning his call nor the subject matter of his proclamation from men, all this being imparted to him by the immediate action of Christ, Gal_1:12. To this he had referred briefly above, Eph_2:11-22, and he reminds his readers: By which, in accordance with which, when you read it, you get an idea of my understanding in the mystery of Christ. The paragraph concerning the gathering of the Church of Christ, the building of the holy temple of God, might serve as a criterion or standard, according to which, by means of which, the Ephesians would be enabled to judge, to get some idea of Paul's insight, of his critical understanding in the mystery relating to Christ, in the message of salvation and grace in Christ, especially as it concerned the Gentiles, Col_1:27; Col_4:3.

Of this mystery or message Paul writes: Which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men as now it was revealed to His holy apostles and prophets through the Spirit. The mystery relating to Christ as the Savior of mankind was indeed revealed to the patriarchs and prophets of old in type and prophecy. But in the times of the Old Testament generations the message was not generally known, nor was it so clear and unmistakable as in the time of the present fulfillment. To His holy apostles, who were incidentally prophets foretelling the future, God revealed the glorious facts concerning salvation in Christ through His Holy Spirit. By the teaching of the Spirit these men gained a full understanding of the relation between prophecy and fulfillment, of the ministry of Christ, Luk_24:44-48, of the significance of Christ's death and resurrection, 1Co_15:1-58, and many other facts connected with the life and work of the Redeemer.

The content of the mystery as it specifically concerned the Gentiles, was: That the Gentiles are fellow-heirs and fellow-members and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel. The apostle piles up the terms in order to emphasize as strongly as possible the full equality of the Gentile Christians with those of Jewish descent. The Gentiles are heirs with the members of believing Israel, Rom_8:17, of all the blessings held out to the children; they belong jointly to the same body as the Jewish Christians, to the body of Christ; the same promise of eternal salvation in Christ Jesus is extended to them through the preaching of the Gospel. "The three terms describe the Gentiles, therefore, first generally as heirs together with the believing Jews in all things, and then more particularly as belonging equally with them to the same corporate body and sharing equally with them in the Messianic promise."

Paul is careful to avoid even the suggestion of smug self-congratulation in the matter of his office: Of which (Gospel) I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given me according to the operation of His power. Even the remotest form of supercilious bearing was unbearable to the apostle, excelling, as he did, in meekness. He became a minister of the Gospel, a servant, not because of any personal merit, but by reason of the free gift of God's grace. He considered his office a gift of which he was not worthy. And it was not his own wisdom, personal magnetism, or any other talent that was effective in his work, but the power of God. The transcendent greatness of God's gracious power is efficacious as well in those that preach the Gospel as in those that hear and believe it. Mark: This fact, that the gift of teaching is bestowed, "not according to the receptivity of the recipient, but according to the efficiency of the Giver," should be kept in mind by all members of the Church that are engaged in the work of teaching the Gospel.