3:1-2 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles
If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward
This chapter division begins by Paul addressing the cause (reasoning) behind his message.
He says “For this cause”, after chapter 2 ends with him discussing the coagulation (joining) of the Christian church and family of God.
Also, when Paul refers to himself as a prisoner, he is jointly addressing his standing. He is a captive of Jesus Christ.
This is not the only time that Paul (And other Biblical writers) boasts this title. Paul begins chapter 4 of Ephesians with this title as well, it being found in Philemon, Timothy, Hebrews, etc.
His target audience is also addressed through this first verse. Christ’s captivity placed a purpose in his life as well. To share the Gospel and the mystery with the Gentiles (non-Jews).
Paul’s purpose and ministry was to the Gentiles. He delivered the knowledge of the “dispensation of the grace of God”. The age that we live within now, living fully and freely within the grace that God supplied through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Verse 2 of Ephesians 3 is essentially important as we see that the beginning of this age came from the revelation that Jesus Christ directly delivered to Paul (Ephesians 3:3; Galatians 1:12).
3:3-6 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
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;
That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
[Verse 3 reference 3:2]
From this revelation, Paul is to deliver his knowledge of Christ’s revelation to the Body of Christ, particularly the Gentiles.
This revelation [The Mystery of Christ] was not known in any other age [time] or group of people. If it was to be prophesied, it would contradict the words of Paul in Romans 16:25, 2 Timothy 1:9, Galatians 1:12, and Ephesians 3:9
The “holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” is referring to the apostles and prophets after the cross and during the time of Paul. We see this through the context of the situation and the phrase, “as it is now revealed”.
However, the primary catalyst of this message being propelled is not man. It is done “by the Spirit”.
The three proponents of the mystery of Christ is that the Gentiles:
- Are fellow heirs, with Christ and his eternal inheritance. As fellow heirs we will be glorified as Jesus is in Heaven (Romans 8:17).
- Are of the same body [The Body of Christ]. We are a new creation and not a continuation of Israel (1 Corinthians 12:13). The Body of Christ is an entity within the age of grace. Distinctions were torn down and all who believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ are part of The Body [The Church] (Review notes for Ephesians 1:22-23).
- Are partakers of the promise in Christ by the Gospel (Grace/Salvation). Christ’s work finished at the cross and followed by His salvation allowed a way to right relationship with God (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Christ promised through His grace we can be saved and receive His holy Spirit.
3:7-9 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.
Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
Paul is undoubtedly the minister to the Gentiles, carrying the mystery by the grace of God.
He was appointed by Christ to be an apostlic minister by the grace of God. Grace being the means by which God operates. (Romans 11:13; 15:15-16).
His office is magnified and the effectual working of His power pertains to the power that Paul wielded in the Holy Spirit who (like us) was with Paul constantly. We see an example of this in Acts 15:12.
Paul addresses himself as the “least of all saints” because of his role in the persecution of the church (1 Corinthians 15:9-10).
Despite this, in 1 Corinthians 15:10, Paul defends that he has laboured more than all of the saints by the grace of God.
Least does not mean behind any saints. His role is a very special appointment.
The “unsearchable riches of Christ” are already our inheritance when we are saved and sealed. These parallel with the “spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).
They are not Earthly riches as the Israelites sought, but rather one unseen at this time, but is still to come for us. Paul preached these riches to the Gentiles.
Paul’s preaching was his way to communicating important truths (Romans 10:14-15). Paul set out to teach fellowship within the Body of Christ. Fellowship being by way of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14).
A truth that has been hidden in God (The Creator) since the “beginning of the world”.
3:10-12 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:
In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
God’s intention is to reveal this heavenly wisdom and knowledge [manifold knowledge] to the church.
This is and has been the eternal purpose that God had through the effectual working of Jesus Christ. The church is not a plan B kind of situation.
Christ supplied fellowship with Him and the Body of Christ. He made a way so that we can approach God confidently and securely. This is not through works, but rather by grace through faith.