The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Ephesians 3

Eph 3:1

FOR THIS REASON: See same phrase in v 14; the prayer, begun here, is concluded in v 14...

Eph 3:6

Co-heirs, co-members, co-partners! See Col 1:25-29.

"Partakers" / "sharers": of root and fatness of olive tree (Rom 11:17), of spiritual things (Rom 15:27), of one bread (1Co 10:17), of sufferings and consolation (2Co 1:7), of God's promise in Christ (Eph 3:6), of inheritance of saints (Col 1:12), of heavenly calling (Heb 3:1), of Christ (Heb 3:14), of the benefit (1Ti 6:2), of the glory (1Pe 5:1), and of the divine nature (2Pe 1:4).

The aspects of fellowship: fellow-heirs (Eph 3:6); fellow-soldiers (Phi 2:25); fellow-helpers (3Jo 1:8); fellow-workers (Col 4:11); fellow-servants (Rev 6:11); fellow-prisoners (Rom 16:7); fellow-laborers (Phi 4:3); fellow-citizens (Eph 2:19).

Eph 3:8

Paul's changing self-image: (1) an apostle (Gal 1:1; etc), (2) least of the apostles (1Co 15:9), (3) less than the least of all the saints (Eph 3:8), (4) worst of sinners (1Ti 1:15). As Paul drew nearer to Christ, so his self-esteem decreased.

I AM LESS THAN THE LEAST OF ALL GOD'S PEOPLE: "The apostle Paul felt it a great privilege to be allowed to preach the gospel. He did not look upon his calling as a drudgery, but he entered upon it with intense delight. Yet while Paul was thus thankful for his office, his success in it greatly humbled him. The fuller a vessel becomes, the deeper it sinks in the water. Idlers may indulge a fond conceit of their abilities, because they are untried; but the earnest worker soon learns his own weakness. If you seek humility, try hard work; if you would know your nothingness, attempt some great thing for Jesus. If you would feel how utterly powerless you are apart from the living God, attempt especially the great work of proclaiming the unsearchable riches of Christ, and you will know, as you never knew before, what a weak unworthy thing you are" (CHS).

Eph 3:9

ADMINISTRATION: Koinoneo = fellowship. Association with Christ, ie in continuing to preach gospel. Some mss have: "oikonomia" = economy, dispensation.

Eph 3:14

FOR THIS REASON: The conclusion of prayer begun in v 1.

Eph 3:15

The family in "heaven" = angels! Cp Job 38:4-7; Eph 1:10; Rev 5:11; Mat 26:53; Heb 12:22. God's "family" includes both angels and men!

Eph 3:17

Cp Moses' words in Deu 32:12-14.

Vv 17-19: "Every phrase here had reference to the sanctuary of God. The word 'dwell' describes the saints as the dwelling-place of God. 'Grounded' makes reference to both tabernacle and temple (eg 1Ki 5:17). The three dimensions are the measures of the Holy of Holies -- but 'height' is also 'depth', because the purpose of the sanctuary is a two-way traffic: 'angels of God ascending and descending upon' a mercy seat, which is 'the Son of man.' The idea that the life in Christ leads on to the addition of new spiritual faculties, both here and hereafter (Rev 21:1-5), is suggested by 'the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge'. And 'filled with all the fulness of God', was what happened when 'the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle' (Exo 40:35), and the temple of Solomon (2Ch 5:14), and the temple described by Ezekiel (Eze 43:4) and Isaiah (Isa 4:5,6; 60:1), and esp the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:11,22,23)" (WRev).

Eph 3:18

WIDE AND LONG AND HIGH AND DEEP: Four dimensions, not three! High (heaven) and deep (grave, and resurrection from grave). Cp also the Most Holy Place.

Eph 3:19

All that God is, they must try to be!

THIS LOVE THAT SURPASSES KNOWLEDGE: "When we begin to know [this], we shall find ourselves beginning to be able to do what he commands, even when it goes against the grain. We shall be able to do good to them that hate us, and certainly to refrain from rendering evil to them who do evil to us. To have the heart open to love in all directions for his sake brings even now 'the peace of God that passeth all understanding,' and will at last be requited by such a harvest of love as shall surpass our utmost dreams, in the day when God shall root the wicked and the unloving out of the earth, and suffer only His own tried and loving family, who will be united in Him to one another by everlasting bonds of incorruptibility and life that will never pass away" (LM 58).

FILLED TO THE MEASURE OF ALL THE FULLNESS OF GOD: "Grow! Develop! Expand your mind! Fill it with reality. Fill it with the eternal things and people of the Purpose of God. Eliminate levity. Eliminate shallowness. Eliminate interest in present, passing, meaningless things. Don't drift! Don't drift for a moment! Be constantly moving toward a glorious goal. Use every precious moment of life productively, moving toward eternity. Be solid and consistent all through to the core. Be totally and permanently permeated with God. Don't be just a surface shell of meaninglessness and emptiness. Arise to the flooding realization of the greatness and wonder and joyfulness of the divine call to God-partnered, eternity-destined fulness and holiness. We must be 'filled with the fulness of God.' Anything less is not living, but is mere drifting aimlessly to eventual death. Be something real, something total. We are not here just to amuse and occupy ourselves with trivia, while life and opportunity speed away so swiftly to the end of our brief span. Seize the passing present to lay hold upon God with all your love and interest and attention and effort. Nurture its growth until it completely obsesses you, night and day. Keep your mind on the things of the Word, and get rid of all the time-wasting toys of your past, outgrown fleshliness and immaturity. Really live, and really enjoy life. Every moment can be a Divine experience: one step closer to Divine perfection. We have no time to waste on folly: and all else except this is pitiful, blind, self-destructive folly" (GVG).

Eph 3:20

HIM WHO IS ABLE TO DO IMMEASURABLY MORE THAN ALL WE ASK OR IMAGINE: The Word of God IS power: Heb 4:12; Joh 6:63. See Jud 1:24; Col 1:29; 2Co 9:8.

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