Commentary on Ephesians, 3:1-7


Ephesians 3:1-7

“1 On account of this I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles”  LEB

“On account of this”  (for this reason)

The reason Paul was in prison was because of the message that he was given to “preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (verse 8). Paul also says in verse 13, “Therefore I ask [you] not to be discouraged at my afflictions on behalf of you, which are your glory.”

“2 –if indeed you have heard [about] the stewardship of God’s grace given to me for you.”  LEB

“stewardship”

This is the Greek word oikonomia, which has the idea of managing other people’s property. Thus Paul was given the responsibility of delivering the message of Christ to the Gentiles, as well as overseeing their spiritual development through teaching.

“3 According to revelation the mystery was made known to me, just as I wrote beforehand in brief,”  LEB

Paul was given the message of Christ through direct revelation from Him, as he explains in more detail in Galatians:

“11 For I make known to you, brothers, the gospel that has been proclaimed by me, that it is not {of human origin}. 12 For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught [it], but [I received it] through a revelation of Jesus Christ…..15 But when the one who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called [me] by his grace was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me in order that I would proclaim the gospel [about] him among the Gentiles….”  (Gal 1:11,12,15,16)

“mystery”

Refers to that which was not known before, but now Divinely revealed.

“4 so that you may be able when you read to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ   5 (which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit): 6 [that] the Gentiles are fellow heirs, and fellow members of the body, and fellow sharers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

We see here that these first several verses of chapter 3, are a continuation of his discussion from chapter 2, which is about the spiritual unity of the Jews and Gentiles through their common faith in Christ. In verse 3 Paul mentioned the “mystery” that was given to him through direct revelation, and here we see that this spiritual oneness of the two is part of that revelation, that believing Gentiles are now “fellow heirs” with believing Jews. The “promise” of salvation through Christ (Messiah) is for all mankind.

Paul went into detail about this mystery in Eph 2:11-22, and here he is finishing his discussion on it.

“as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit):”

Not only was the “mystery of Christ” made known to Paul, but it was also made known to the rest of the Apostles and prophets. This was by direct revelation given by the Holy Spirit. We cannot understand truth apart from Him, as Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 2:6-16.

As the Apostles and prophets received the truth from the Spirit, they wrote it down, and then it was passed on from church to church. What we have today in the New Testament is a result of that process. Anytime we read and study the Word of God, and anytime we teach it, it must be in complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit..

“7 of which I became a servant, according to the gift of God’s grace given to me, according to the working of his power.”

“according to the working of his power” (according to the operative energy of His power)

By “God’s grace,” Paul was given the gift of Apostleship, and was made a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. He served according to the operative energy of God’s power. He served and preached the message of Christ to the Jews too, but the primary mission that was given to him (Acts 22:17-21), was to the Gentiles, as he himself said: “I am an apostle to the Gentiles” (Ro 11:13).

The same power that enabled Paul to serve God, is available to us. Later in the chapter Paul prays that the Ephesian Christians would be granted this power. We will discuss that when we get to it.