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Ephesians 3

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Paul's Relationship to the Divine Mystery

3:1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus 1  for the sake of you Gentiles – 3:2 if indeed 2  you have heard of the stewardship 3  of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3:3 that 4  by revelation the divine secret 5  was made known to me, as I wrote before briefly. 6  3:4 When reading this, 7  you will be able to 8  understand my insight into this secret 9  of Christ. 3:5 Now this secret 10  was not disclosed to people 11  in former 12  generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by 13  the Spirit, 3:6 namely, that through the gospel 14  the Gentiles are fellow heirs, fellow members 15  of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus. 3:7 I became a servant of this gospel 16  according to the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by 17  the exercise of his power. 18  3:8 To me – less than the least of all the saints 19  – this grace was given, 20  to proclaim to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ 3:9 and to enlighten 21  everyone about God’s secret plan 22  – a secret that has been hidden for ages 23  in God 24  who has created all things. 3:10 The purpose of this enlightenment is that 25  through the church the multifaceted wisdom 26  of God should now be disclosed to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly realms. 3:11 This was according to 27  the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 3:12 in whom we have boldness and confident access 28  to God 29  because of 30  Christ’s 31  faithfulness. 32  3:13 For this reason I ask you 33  not to lose heart because of what I am suffering for you, 34  which 35  is your glory. 36 

Prayer for Strengthened Love

3:14 For this reason 37  I kneel 38  before the Father, 39  3:15 from 40  whom every family 41  in heaven and on the earth is named. 3:16 I pray that 42  according to the wealth of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person, 3:17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love, 3:18 you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 43  3:19 and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled up to 44  all the fullness of God.

3:20 Now to him who by the power that is working within us 45  is able to do far beyond 46  all that we ask or think, 3:21 to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

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1 tc Several early and important witnesses, chiefly of the Western text (א* D* F G [365]), lack ᾿Ιησοῦ (Ihsou, “Jesus”) here, while most Alexandrian and Byzantine mss (Ì46 א1 A B [C] D1 Ψ 33 1739 [1881] Ï lat sy bo) have the word. However, because of the Western text’s proclivities to add or delete to the text, seemingly at whim, serious doubts should be attached to the shorter reading. It is strengthened, however, by א’s support. Nevertheless, since both א and D were corrected with the addition of ᾿Ιησοῦ, their testimony might be questioned. Further, in uncial script the nomina sacra here could have led to missing a word by way of homoioteleuton (cMuiMu). At the same time, in light of the rarity of scribal omission of nomina sacra (see TCGNT 582, n. 1), a decision for inclusion of the word here must be tentative. NA27 rightly places ᾿Ιησοῦ in brackets.

2 sn If indeed. The author is not doubting whether his audience has heard, but is rather using provocative language (if indeed) to engage his audience in thinking about the magnificence of God’s grace. However, in English translation, the apodosis (“then”-clause) does not come until v. 13, leaving the protasis (“if”-clause) dangling. Eph 3:2-7 constitute one sentence in Greek.

3 tn Or “administration,” “dispensation,” “commission.”

4 tn Or “namely, that is.”

5 tn Or “mystery.”

6 tn Or “as I wrote above briefly.”

sn As I wrote briefly may refer to the author’s brief discussion of the divine secret in 1:9.

7 tn Grk “which, when reading.”

8 tn Grk “you are able to.”

9 tn Or “mystery.”

10 tn Grk “which.” Verse 5 is technically a relative clause, subordinate to the thought of v. 4.

11 tn Grk “the sons of men” (a Semitic idiom referring to human beings, hence, “people”).

12 tn Grk “other.”

13 tn Or “in.”

14 sn The phrase through the gospel is placed last in the sentence in Greek for emphasis. It has been moved forward for clarity.

15 tn Grk “and fellow members.”

16 tn Grk “of which I was made a minister,” “of which I became a servant.”

17 tn Grk “according to.”

18 sn On the exercise of his power see 1:19-20.

19 sn In Pauline writings saints means any true believer. Thus for Paul to view himself as less than the least of all the saints is to view himself as the most unworthy object of Christ’s redemption.

20 sn The parallel phrases to proclaim and to enlighten which follow indicate why God’s grace was manifested to Paul. Grace was not something just to be received, but to be shared with others (cf. Acts 13:47).

21 tn There is a possible causative nuance in the Greek verb, but this is difficult to convey in the translation.

22 tn Grk “what is the plan of the divine secret.” Earlier the author had used οἰκονομία (oikonomia; here “plan”) to refer to his own “stewardship” (v. 2). But now he is speaking about the content of this secret, not his own activity in relation to it.

23 tn Or “for eternity,” or perhaps “from the Aeons.” Cf. 2:2, 7.

24 tn Or “by God.” It is possible that ἐν (en) plus the dative here indicates agency, that is, that God has performed the action of hiding the secret. However, this usage of the preposition ἐν is quite rare in the NT, and even though here it does follow a perfect passive verb as in the Classical idiom, it is more likely that a different nuance is intended.

25 tn Grk “that.” Verse 10 is a subordinate clause to the verb “enlighten” in v. 9.

26 tn Or “manifold wisdom,” “wisdom in its rich variety.”

27 tn Grk “according to.” The verse is a prepositional phrase subordinate to v. 10.

28 tn Grk “access in confidence.”

29 tn The phrase “to God” is not in the text, but is clearly implied by the preceding, “access.”

30 tn Grk “through,” “by way of.”

31 tn Grk “his.”

32 tn Or “faith in him.” A decision is difficult here. Though traditionally translated “faith in Jesus Christ,” an increasing number of NT scholars are arguing that πίστις Χριστοῦ (pisti" Cristou) and similar phrases in Paul (here and in Rom 3:22, 26; Gal 2:16, 20; 3:22; Phil 3:9) involve a subjective genitive and mean “Christ’s faith” or “Christ’s faithfulness” (cf., e.g., G. Howard, “The ‘Faith of Christ’,” ExpTim 85 [1974]: 212-15; R. B. Hays, The Faith of Jesus Christ [SBLDS]; Morna D. Hooker, “Πίστις Χριστοῦ,” NTS 35 [1989]: 321-42). Noteworthy among the arguments for the subjective genitive view is that when πίστις takes a personal genitive it is almost never an objective genitive (cf. Matt 9:2, 22, 29; Mark 2:5; 5:34; 10:52; Luke 5:20; 7:50; 8:25, 48; 17:19; 18:42; 22:32; Rom 1:8; 12; 3:3; 4:5, 12, 16; 1 Cor 2:5; 15:14, 17; 2 Cor 10:15; Phil 2:17; Col 1:4; 2:5; 1 Thess 1:8; 3:2, 5, 10; 2 Thess 1:3; Titus 1:1; Phlm 6; 1 Pet 1:9, 21; 2 Pet 1:5). On the other hand, the objective genitive view has its adherents: A. Hultgren, “The Pistis Christou Formulations in Paul,” NovT 22 (1980): 248-63; J. D. G. Dunn, “Once More, ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ,” SBL Seminar Papers, 1991, 730-44. Most commentaries on Romans and Galatians usually side with the objective view.

sn Because of Christ’s faithfulness. Though Paul elsewhere teaches justification by faith, this presupposes that the object of our faith is reliable and worthy of such faith.

33 tn Grk “I ask.” No direct object is given in Greek, leaving room for the possibility that either “God” (since the verb is often associated with prayer) or “you” is in view.

34 tn Grk “my trials on your behalf.”

35 sn 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.

36 tn Or “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.

37 sn For this reason resumes the point begun in v. 1, after a long parenthesis.

38 tn Grk “I bend my knees.”

39 tc Most Western and Byzantine witnesses, along with a few others (א2 D F G Ψ 0278 1881 Ï lat sy), have “of our Lord Jesus Christ” after “Father,” but such an edifying phrase cannot explain the rise of the reading that lacks it, especially when the shorter reading is attested by early and important witnesses such as Ì46 א* A B C P 6 33 81 365 1175 1739 co Or Hier.

40 tn Or “by.”

41 tn Or “the whole family.”

42 tn Grk “that.” In Greek v. 16 is a subordinate clause to vv. 14-15.

43 sn The object of these dimensions is not stated in the text. Interpreters have suggested a variety of referents for this unstated object, including the cross of Christ, the heavenly Jerusalem (which is then sometimes linked to the Church), God’s power, the fullness of salvation given in Christ, the Wisdom of God, and the love of Christ. Of these interpretations, the last two are the most plausible. Associations from Wisdom literature favor the Wisdom of God, but the immediate context favors the love of Christ. For detailed discussion of these interpretive options, see A. T. Lincoln, Ephesians (WBC), 207-13, who ultimately favors the love of Christ.

44 tn Or “with.”

45 sn On the power that is working within us see 1:19-20.

46 tn Or “infinitely beyond,” “far more abundantly than.”



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