Main point summary
Paul's readers ought not to be discouraged by his imprisonment because God's mighty power was at work through Paul's ministry to accomplish God's eternal and incredible plan.
For this reason I, Paul , o a prisoner for Christ Jesus p on behalf of you Gentiles [bow my knees before the Father]—
assuming that you have heard of q the stewardship of r God’s grace that was given to me for you ,
s how the mystery was made known to me t by revelation,
u as I have written briefly.
v When you read this,
you can perceive my insight into w the mystery of Christ,
which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations
as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.
This mystery is 1 that
the Gentiles are x fellow heirs,
y members of the same body,
and z partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus
through the gospel .
a Of this gospel I was made b a minister according to the gift of c God’s grace ,
which was given me
d by the working of his power.
To me , e Though I am the very least of all the saints,
to me this grace was given,
f to preach to the Gentiles the g unsearchable h riches of Christ ,
and i to bring to light for everyone
what is the plan of the mystery j hidden for ages in 1 God k who created all things,
so that through the church the manifold l wisdom of God m might now be made known to n the rulers and authorities o in the heavenly places.
This was p according to the eternal purpose
that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,
in whom we have q boldness
and r access with s confidence through our t faith in him.
So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering u for you,
v which is your glory.
Cf. Acts 9:15; 22:21; 26:19–23; Gal. 1:16 The fact that Paul is in prison, suffering for Christ Jesus on behalf of the Gentiles, is what leads him to explain the basis for his suffering. In fact Paul was in prison precisely because of his proclamations. In giving the basis, he can then exhort them to not be discouraged. This is all for a cosmic cause worth dying for, after all.
This is not an "If-Then", but a "because". He expects them to know this. Paul is certain of what they have heard (considering he just wrote of it), and hence explains and encourages in the verses to follow. The indirect manner might be used here to allow the letter to be read in churches apart from the Ephesians.
God has given Paul the grace to steward God's commission/administration/plan. God did this, and he gave this to Paul for the church. Paul, therefore is a steward and a servant to the church.
Secret, or ‘mystery’, is a common theme in Paul’s writing (Rom. 16:25–26; Eph. 1:9; 3:4–5, 9–10; 6:19; Col. 1:27). The term ‘mystery’ is tied to the Old Testament term rāz (Dan. 2:18–19, 27–30, 47). It refers to something not previously disclosed but now revealed (Eph. 3:4–5; Col. 1:26-27; 2:2–3 [revealing what is hidden in Christ]). That mystery can attach to something that has already been revealed and can fill out that previously known thing. That is the case here. As early as Genesis 12:3 there was the idea that the programme of God would bless the world, as in choosing to form Israel God was also seeking to bless the world. The mystery that Paul was preaching about how Christ had brought Gentiles into blessing filled out that initial promise. Bock, Darrell L.; Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (pp. 83-84). IVP. Kindle Edition.
from God, not man
Cf. 1:9-10, 2:11-22
It is important to be clear about what was hidden and what was not. The Old Testament always had the blessing of the world in mind (Gen. 12:3; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14). It also pointed to a comprehensive deliverance one day (Ps. 89:20–29; Isa. 2:1–4; 11:10; 49:6; 55 – 56). What is new is the idea of the Messiah sending the Spirit to indwell Gentiles and their resultant coequal status in one body tied to Christ. There is continuity and discontinuity in the content of what God is doing in Christ. An implication in all of this is how the role of the law shifted as a result (Gal. 3:1-4:6; Eph. 2:13–18). The reference to apostles and prophets refers to people in the new era, not the old, as Eph 2:20–22 showed. The Spirit is the one in whom this revelation took place. Bock, Darrell L.; Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (p. 85). IVP. Kindle Edition.
Cf. 2:16; 4:4; See 1:23; 4:12, 16; 5:23, 29–30
Cf. 1:11, 14, 18; Rom. 8:17; Heb. 11:9; 1 Pet. 3:7
The new covenant Gal. 3:6–29 Eph 1:13; Rom. 4:13; 2 Cor. 3; Gal. 3:8, 14
So we invoke the full list of what they were excluded from in 2:12. As much as the Old Testament promised land and shalom to Israel, the remarks here suggest that the blessing on the world will include this for all who share in the Messiah, who is the medium for all these blessings, as in the era to come all people will be at peace and any national borders will mean far less, even as those promises are also realized in the comprehensive peace to come. It is not a problem for the list to the original recipients to be expanded in this way, as the original recipients still receive their promised blessing, while God’s word is upheld and shown to be faithful. Bock, Darrell L.; Bock, Darrell L.. Ephesians (p. 86). IVP. Kindle Edition.
cf. 1:7, 18; 2:4, 7
And because of the insight given, and the revolutionary nature of it, I shall pray in Eph 3:14-21 for power and strength to understand it (cf. Eph 1:14-21). And because you can perceive the insight given by God, you will realise: This is worth suffering for (ver 13) No matter how revolutionary, this unity I am preaching about is from God (ver 2,5-6,7,8)
Paul has showcased the magnificent blessings, riches and hope that the Ephesians have in Christ. As God's power worked in Christ then, his power is still at work —seen in salvation-life (2:1-10) and unprecedented (albeit planned) familial access to the Father (2:11-22). For this reason...
Stunning. God's manifold wisdom Is now Displayed for the heavenly rulers . . . through the church , of all things! How? In the church, the reconciliation of man to God and man with man is put on display (Ephesians 2). God has done something incredible —reversed the curse and bestowed blessing (Eph 1:3-14). The church puts what God has done on display.
Cf. Acts 4:13, 29, 31; Heb 4:16, 10:19 We are God's family. Dare I say it, but we now have a right to be before God. Why? Because of King Jesus. It is undeserved grace, but God's power has given undeserving wretches like us the right to come before God Almighty.
We have bold access with confidence because of the King's faithfulness and by means of our faith in him
NET Translator's Note [Alternatively:] “Or who is your glory?” The relative pronoun ἥτις ( Jhti" ), if divided differently, would become ἤ τίς ( h ti" ). Since there were no word breaks in the original mss , either word division is possible. The force of the question would be that for the readers to become discouraged over Paul’s imprisonment would mean that they were no longer trusting in God’s sovereignty.
NET Study Note Which. The antecedent (i.e., the word or concept to which this clause refers back) may be either “what I am suffering for you” or the larger concept of the recipients not losing heart over Paul’s suffering for them. The relative pronoun “ which ” is attracted to the predicate nominative “ glory ” in its gender and number (feminine singular), making the antecedent ambiguous. Paul’s suffering for them could be viewed as their glory (cf. Col 1:24 for a parallel) in that his suffering has brought about their salvation, but if so his suffering must be viewed as more than his present imprisonment in Rome; it would be a general description of his ministry overall (cf. 2 Cor 11:23-27 ). The other option is that the author is implicitly arguing that the believers have continued to have courage in the midst of his trials (as not to lose heart suggests) and that this is their glory. Philippians 1:27-28 offers an interesting parallel: The believers’ courage in the face of adversity is a sign of their salvation.
Note Paul's own conversion. Moreso, conversion involved bring people from darkness into light. Cf. 1:18
i.e. the church of unified Jews and Gentiles, reconciled through the gospel of the Messiah
If the church is central to God’s purpose, as seen in both history and the gospel, it must surely also be central to our lives. How can we take lightly what God takes so seriously? How dare we push to the circumference what God has placed at the centre? No, we shall seek to become responsible church members, active in some local manifestation of the universal church. We shall not be able to acquiesce in low standards which fall far short of the New Testament ideals for God’s new society, whether mechanical, meaningless worship services, or fellowship which is icy cold and even spoiled by rivalries which make the Lord’s Supper a farce, or such inward-looking isolationism as to turn the church into a ghetto which is indifferent to the outside world and its pain. If instead (like Paul) we keep before us the vision of God’s new society as his family, his dwelling place and his instrument in the world, then we shall constantly be seeking to make our church’s worship more authentic, its fellowship more caring and its outreach more compassionate. In other words (like Paul again), we shall be ready to pray, to work and if necessary to suffer in order to turn the vision into a reality. Stott, John. The Message of Ephesians: With Study Guide (The Bible Speaks Today) (pp. 129-131). IVP. Kindle Edition.
This might be referring to their salvation, through Paul's suffering-filled ministry - their being part of this great purpose of God. It could also refer to their 'not losing heart'. As they remain steadfast despite their leader's suffering, it proves their salvation (cf. Phil 1:27-28) If we go with the alternative phrasing: "Who is your glory?" Then, the force of the question has to do with whether or not they trust God's power (which Paul has been expounding on so far).
Includes the idea of the transformational impact the gospel had on him. From Pharisee of Pharisees to the least of all the saints
Ephesians 1:3, 20; 2:6; 6:12
A created thing (cf. ver 9).
IN PRISON FOR GOD'S PLAN IN CHRIST (3:1-13) God's Power to Paul: Grace to minister the Gospel (3:1-7) 3:1 Keeping all that he has said about God's mighty power at work in Christ, Paul begins to pray (ver 14), but just before he does, he feels the need to explain God's power at work through his life —testified to by his imprisonment . He is imprisoned for Christ on behalf of the Gentiles, of whose powerful inclusion into God's house he just spoke of. 3:2-3 Paul expects that his readers have heard of his commission from God —an act of God's grace and power through Paul to serve his readers. This grace is seen in God revealing 'the mystery' that Paul has just written about (1:9-10; 2:11-22). This was not some Pauline invention, but was from God. 3:4-7 Considering the revolutionary message of this 'mystery of the Messiah' (2:11-22), Paul hopes that his insight conveyed that the message of this mystery is from God, by the Spirit. He explains: a. This mystery was not revealed in ages past or peoples past, but has now been revealed to specific people called and empowered by God, i.e. the apostles and prophets (many among whom Paul is one) b. This mystery is fellow-ness of the Gentiles with the Jews through the good news in Christ Jesus: - Gentiles are fellow-heirs (with the Jews who had the promise) - Gentiles are fellow-members of the same body - Gentiles are fellow-sharers in the same promises in the Messiah Jesus (promises that are already and not yet fulfilled) c. This great gospel revealed the mystery, and it's source and substance was the Messiah --the mystery of Christ d. It was to the undeserving Paul that God gave this ministry: to steward Christ's revolutionary and revelatory gospel. Behold God's power at work: the leastest of the saints is his steward! 1. How different is the mystery that has been revealed to me? Does it lead me to worship that I share in the heirship, body and pormise with the Jews —in Christ? 2. How do I steward this grace of God —the mystery of Christ? How seriously do I take evangelism? 3. Do I strive to know this mystery more fully by spending time with the whole word of God? 4. How does our weakness become an excuse? God's Purpose through Paul: Cosmic Revelation through the Church (3:8-13) 3:8-9 Paul then explains his qualifications: he is the leastest of all the saints. Although he was least qualified, it was God who was the supplier of grace to Paul for two purposes: a. to preach the unlimited blessing available in the Messiah to the Gentiles . b. to enlighten everyone what the Creator's sovereign, certain and unfolding plan is, a plan somewhat hidden, yet directed by God in eons past —the mystery now better revealed (ver 5-6) 3:10 And God has an ultimate purpose in Paul's stewardship, that of self-disclosure: - the multifaceted wisdom of God might be made known - this is made known to all the cosmos, especially the rulers in the heavenly realms , both good and evil - this wisdom of God is now revealed in this new age - this multifaceted wisdom of God is now put on display for the heavenly realms ... through the church ! 3:11-12 This mighty purpose through Paul's ministering is grounded in the eternal goal of God accomplished in King Jesus, the Messiah, and by helplessly trusting in this King's faithfulness, we have bold, confident access to God (cf. 2:18). 3:13 Paul's inference from his digression: Now considering God's glorious power and plan at work through leastest me, you should not lose heart. This perspective makes his suffering worth it and their discouragement inappropriate. 1. How seriously do I take the church? What can I do to live as a servant to the church? 2. Do I evangelise? Has God's vision and eternal purpose taken such a hold on me that I can suffer for the sake of his church? 3. How do I come before God? Is boldness and confidence in faith characteristic of the way I approach him? 4. Do I know and proclaim all of God's plan?