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Ephesians 3:1-8

Context
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

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).



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