Commentary on Ephesians, 3:9-12


Ephesians 3:9-12

“8 To me, the least of all the saints, was given this grace: to proclaim the good news of the fathomless riches of Christ to the Gentiles,
9 and to enlighten everyone [as to] what ]is] the administration of the mystery hidden from the ages by God, who created all [things],”  LEB

“administration”  (management, oversight, thus to carry out or to fulfill)

“to enlighten everyone”

Paul was given grace to preach the good news of Christ to the Gentiles, and to make known to everyone the plan of salvation (the mystery of Christ) and how it’s being carried out or being fulfilled. What was once a mystery (hidden), the details of God’s plan is now being revealed to all mankind.

“who created all things”

It’s difficult to know why Paul included this fact about God in this context. Perhaps he had in mind that God is working everything together in this world according to a grand plan, and that the good news (gospel) of His Son is central to that plan.

10 in order that the many-sided wisdom of God might be made known now to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly [places] through the church,”

“the many-sided wisdom of God”  (the rich variety of God’s wisdom)

God does all things for His glory, and in regard to this plan of salvation through His Son, He reveals the rich variety of His wisdom to the

 “rulers and authorities in the heavenly [places].”

 Probably a reference to the angelic host of Heaven.

Through His plan of salvation for the world, God reveals the full scope of His wisdom to His holy angels who serve in His presence. God’s plan for this world is being unfolded in their sight, and through that plan, the full display of God’s wisdom is being revealed, which brings Him glory.

Why Paul brought the angelic host of Heaven into the discussion, is uncertain. However, when we consider the fact that the holy angels served and worshipped Christ, for who knows how long, one has to imagine that they were a bit puzzled when He left His throne in Glory to come to this earth in the likeness of man, and then to suffer a very painful death on top of that. To see the creator and Ruler of the universe hanging on the cross must have been a shock to them. But one would expect that as God’s plan for this world has been unfolding, with His Son at the center of it all, their understanding has been growing, or perhaps, full grown by now.

Note:  “Rulers and authorities” may also include the rulers of darkness (Eph 6:12).

“through the church”

God’s plan for this world, and the wisdom that is involved in all that, is being carried out by way of the church. I believe this has both the local church, as well as the Church universal in view. The importance of the local assembly of believers can’t be overstated. It’s through the local church, and through the combination of all local churches, that God carries out His will in this world.

The local church is central in God’s plan for Christians. This is where we gather for worship, for the teaching of God’s Word, for prayer, for fellowship, and serves as a base from which we evangelize the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s in the local church that God has placed shepherds to lead us in the ways of the Lord . Church involvement also provides much needed accountability and encouragement.

Considering the centrality and importance God has placed upon the local assembly, there’s simply no good reason for any Christian not to be involved in one. If we have been blessed to live in a country where we’re free to come together as followers of Christ, then we need to realize the value God has given to it, and fully submit to His will regarding our attitude and our service to Him in that context.

“11 according to the purpose of the ages which he carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,”

“purpose of the ages”  (eternal purpose)

The plan that God has for mankind, for this world, and for the universe, is according to an eternal purpose that is accomplished in His Son, Jesus. God’s purpose in all things is to glorify Himself, and He does this through His Son and what He accomplished on the cross. Redemption for mankind has been provided through the cross, and the universe itself will one day be renewed, as we ourselves are renewed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

“12 in whom we have boldness and access in confidence through faith in him.”

Through faith in Jesus we can approach God with boldness and confidence, knowing that it’s according to the eternal purpose that He ordained. No one is allowed to approach God apart from Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Any attempt to approach God through any other way, is rejected.

God chose to allow man into His presence only through faith in His Son. Those who approach Him according to that one way, are allowed, and are therefore, the chosen or the elect. Those who attempt to approach Him any other way, are rejected, and are therefore, the non-chosen or non-elect.

When it comes to the doctrine of election, it’s all about that one plan, that one way of salvation that we’ve been talking about in this passage. It’s all about His Son, Jesus, His Chosen One (Luke 9:35). Those who come to God through faith in His Chosen One, become elect through their identification with the Elect Son.

Just as Adam was chosen to give birth to the human race, and just as Abraham was chosen to give birth to a nation, so was Jesus chosen to give birth to a people that God has called out of this world for Himself. Through faith in Christ, we are born into God’s Chosen family. It’s through this new-birth that we as individuals become the elect. We are the elect as individuals because of our birth into the elect people of God, which was brought forth through His Elect Son.

Individuals are elect human beings through birth. Individuals are elect Jews through birth. Individual Christians are elect through birth (the new-birth). We are not members of the elect people of God because we are the elect; that doesn’t even make sense. We are elect as individuals only in the sense that we join ourselves to the elect people of God through the new birth. It’s a people group that God has chosen, and not individuals, per se.

Election is like a river that flows from Christ, and must, therefore, be entered into to become one of the elect. The river of election does not flow outside of Christ. That’s why Paul said that “he has chosen us in him” (Eph 1:4).

In other words, the river of election (the elect people of God, the Church) flows in the Elect Christ, and flows from the Elect Christ, and must be entered into in order to become a part of this river of election.

Election is not a tag that’s been pinned on us as individuals, and something that we carry outside of Christ. Election is only “in Christ,” and can only flow from Him, and must be entered into through faith in Him.