Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 3:13

διὸ αἰτοῦμαι μὴ ἐγκακεῖν ἐν ταῖς θλίψεσίν μου ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ἥτις ἐστὶν δόξα ὑμῶν. Therefore, I ask not to be discouraged in my tribulations on behalf of you, which is your glory.

Since bold, confident access to God is given to those who are in Christ Jesus, Paul asks his readers to not be discouraged by the tribulations he was suffering. He stated that he was going through tribulations on their behalf. These tribulations were their glory. It is hard to determine how Paul’s tribulations were his readers’ glory. But perhaps it was due to the fact that through his tribulations he was able to write to them or to teach them. With the glory phrase aside, Paul asks his readers to not be discouraged. This request is linked with the fact that they all have bold and confident access to God. For those who have such a connection with the Father do not need to be discouraged by troubling tribulations.

Therefore, I am asking you not to be discouraged by my tribulations on your behalf, which is your glory.

Tribulations need not trouble us, for we have access to the Father, to the Creator of the universe. The God who created all things has made it possible to have access to him through those who are in Christ Jesus. In such access, believers do not need to be troubled by tribulations, for such situations are under God’s control. He who created all things can certainly help us through troubling situations.

Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 3:8-12

Ἐμοὶ τῷ ἐλαχιστοτέρῳ πάντων ἀγίων ἐδόθη ἡ χάρις αὕτη τοῖς ἔθνεσιν εὐαγγελίσασθαι τὸ ἀνεξιχνίαστον πλοῦτος τοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ φωτίσαι πάντας τίς ἡ οἰκονομία τοῦ μυστηρίου τοῦ ἀποκεκρυμμένου ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων ἐν τῷ θεῷ τῷ τὰ πάντα κτίσαντι ἵνα γνωρισθῇ νῦν ταῖς ἀρχαῖς καὶ ταῖς ἐξουσίαις ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις διὰ τῆς ἐκκλησίας ἡ πολυποίκιλος σοφία τοῦ θεοῦ κατὰ πρόθεσιν τῶν αἰώνων ἣν ἐποίησεν ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ τῷ κυρίῳ ἡμῶν ἐν ᾧ ἔχομεν τὴν παρρησίαν καὶ προσαγωγὴν ἐν πεποιθήσει διὰ τῆς πίστεως αὐτοῦ. To me, the least of all the saints, it was given this grace, to the Gentiles to preach the incomprehensible riches of Christ and to enlighten everyone what the plan of the mystery which was hidden from the ages in God, the One who created all things, in order that it now might be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms through the Church the diverse wisdom of God according to the purpose of the ages, which he made in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access in confidence through the faith of him.

Paul said he was given this grace, meaning, a gift or task. It was a privilege to do what he was doing. This privilege is all the more poignant since Paul considered himself to be the least of all the saints. Paul was privileged to preach to the Gentiles and to enlighten everyone. What was he to preach and enlighten? He was to preach the incomprehensible riches of Christ to the Gentiles, and to enlighten everyone in what the plan of the mystery which was hidden from the ages, that is, for all time. The mysterious plan was hidden in God–the creator of all things.

Paul was given this grace with the purpose that it would now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. What would be made known? The diverse wisdom of God would be made known. By whom? The diverse wisdom of God would be made known through the called out one. The genitive phrase, διὰ τῆς ἐκκλησίας, could be a reference to the church or to Christ. However, since the task was given to Paul for the purpose that the diverse wisdom of God would be made known, the reference is certainly to the church. As Paul preaches and enlightens believers, God used the Church to communicate his wisdom to the rulers and authorities.

The diverse wisdom of God would be made known according to the purpose of the ages. God accomplished or carried out this purpose in Christ Jesus. It is in Jesus Christ that God has designed purpose for all time, that is, an eternal purpose. But it is also in Jesus Christ that we have boldness and access in confidence through his faith. Because the church is in Christ, believers have boldness, and they also have confident access to God. This boldness and access is made possible through Christ’s faith.

Many translations take the last genitive phrase, διὰ τῆς πίστεως αὐτοῦ, as an objective genitive. They translate it, through faith in him. However, we cannot translate it as an objective genitive. Instead, we must see it as a subjective genitive, and we need to translate it, through his faith. There are several pieces pointing to the subjective use rather than the objective use in Ephesians. The use of αὐτοῦ in Ephesians is always subjective or possessive. It is used a total of 33 times as one of these options, but never as an objective genitive. The use of διὰ plus the genitive article plus a genitive noun plus αὐτοῦ occurs in two other places in Ephesians, 1:7 and 3:16, and in both of those cases αὐτοῦ functions subjectively (first, through his blood, and second, through his Spirit). These reasons are enough to indicate at the least that an objective use of αὐτοῦ is not found in Ephesians, so it would be very strange for Paul to shift and use it in 3:12. Given the use of the genitive construction elsewhere and the use of αὐτοῦ throughout Ephesians, we conclude that this phrase is to be taken as a subjective genitive, translating it, through his faith.

What does it mean, then, for Christ to have faith? Some have attempted to say it was not faith, but rather, faithfulness that Christ had. They have said that Christ’s faithfulness is what gives us boldness and access. However, to distinguish faith and faithfulness from πίστεως is impossible. Christ did have faith. It was evident in the Garden of Gethsemane. We have to remember that Christ prayed and was in relationship with the Father. He believed and trusted the plan of the Father, and although he asked for a different way, he carried out that plan. His faith was demonstrated in the cross, believing not only that the thief would be with him in paradise, but also that the Father was carrying out his salvation plan through Christ’s death. Through this faith, believers, being in Christ, have boldness and access to God.

This grace was given to me, the least of all the saints, to preach the incomprehensible riches of Christ to the Gentiles and to enlighten everyone in what is the mysterious plan, which was hidden from eternity in God, the one who created all things, with the purpose that the diverse wisdom of God would now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places through the Church according to the eternal plan, which he carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through his faith.

We need to rest assured in the faith of Christ. His faith paved the way for us to boldly enter into God’s presence. Because of his faith, we can be bold and confident. We can be bold to preach and to enlighten. We can confidently enter into God’s presence. But we must remember that it is through the Church that God’s wisdom is passed on to the heavenly rulers and authorities. Through the Church God reveals his plan and his wisdom to the rulers and authorities of the heavenly realms.

Ephesians Sentence by Sentence: 3:1-7

Τούτου χάριν ἐγὼ Παῦλος ὁ δέσμιος τοῦ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ ὑπέρ ὑμῶν τῶν ἐθνῶν – εἴ γε ἠκούσατε τὴν οἰκονομίαν τῆς χάριτος τοῦ θεοῦ τῆς δοθείσης μοι εἰς ὑμᾶς ὅτι κατὰ ἀποκάλυψιν ἐγνωρίσθη μοι τὸ μυστήριον καθὼς προέγραψα ἐν ὀλίγῳ πρὸς ὃ δύνασθε ἀναγινώσκοντες νοῆσαι τὴν σύνεσίν μου ἐν τῷ μυστηρίῳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ ὃ ἑτέραις γενεαῖς οὐκ ἐγνωρίσθη τοῖς υἱοῖς τῶν ἀνθρώπων ὡς νῦν ἀπεκαλύφθη τοῖς ἁγίοις ἀποστόλοις αὐτοῦ καὶ προφήταις ἐν πνεύματι εἶναι τὰ ἔθνη συγκληρονόμα καὶ σύσσωμα καὶ συμμέτοχα τῆς ἐπαγγελίας ἐν Χριστῷ Ἱησοῦ διὰ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου οὗ ἐγενήθην διάκονος κατὰ τὴν δωρεὰν τῆς χάριτος τοῦ θεοῦ τῆς δοθείσης μοι κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργειαν τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ. For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus, on behalf of you Gentiles–if indeed you heard the plan of the grace of God, which was given to me for you, because the mystery was made known to me according to revelation, just as I wrote to you in brief, towards which you are able while reading to comprehend the insight of mine in the mystery of Christ, which was not made known in other generations to the sons of men as now it has been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit, for the Gentiles to be co-heirs and belonging to the same body and sharing in the promise in Christ Jesus through the good news, of which I was made a servant according to the gift of the grace of God, which was given to me according to the work of his power.

As a result of the joining of the Gentiles with the Jews in Christ, Paul continues. He identifies that he is the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of the Gentiles. There is a textual variant here. Some important manuscripts (the original hand of א and D) do not have Ἰησοῦ. However, the earliest witness (Papyrus 46) did include it, and the other great witnesses (A, B, 33, and 1739) with the exception of a small minority do include it. We should also point out that two of the important manuscripts that do omit it were corrected by an editor later on to include Ἰησοῦ (found in the first corrector of א and D). All of this is to say that Ἰησοῦ is the likely reading and ought to be included. Paul considers himself the prisoner of Christ on the Gentile’s behalf inasmuch as the Gentiles had heard the plan of the grace of God, which was given to him for them. The word ἠκούσατε is understood rather than heard. Paul emphasizes that they had understood the plan of God’s grace. This plan was given to Paul for the purpose of the Gentiles.

Paul was given the plan of grace; indeed, the mystery was revealed to him. Paul ties his confidence in their comprehension of the plan of God’s grace to the fact that the mystery had been revealed to him, and he relayed his own insight on the mystery to them, which he was sure they comprehended. The mystery of Christ was not made known to other generations, to the sons of men, as now it was revealed to his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit. The prepositional phrase ἐν πνεύματι modifies the verb, not the noun, so that it is by the agency of the Spirit revelation happened.

But what is the mystery? The mystery is for the Gentiles to be co-heirs, belonging to the same body and sharing the promise in Christ Jesus through the good news with the circumcised. For this gospel, Paul was made a servant according to the gift of the Grace of God, which was given to him according to the work of God’s power. It was by God’s power, by his work, that Paul was given the grace. God entrusted Paul with the message of his grace for the Gentiles, and he served God by passing on his insight to them.

Note the sandwich technique. Paul uses the same phrase to open and close the thought following the disconnected introductory line. The phrase τῆς χάριτος τοῦ θεοῦ τῆς δοθείσης μοι occurs at the beginning and ending to open and close his emphatic point. In this “grace of God” sandwich, Paul identifies his confidence that the Gentiles have understood the plan of the grace of God, as well as what he has already written to them regarding the mystery of Christ, which its meaning was hidden from other people, yet it was revealed to the apostles and prophets. It is also important since the mystery is explained. The mystery was mentioned earlier in 1:9 in reference to the plan of the fullness of the times, but here it is made explicit. The mystery is the plan for the Gentiles to be co-heirs with the Jews; being joined into one body with the Jews; sharing the promise of Christ with the Jews. But this plan has already been put into effect in Christ.

For this reason, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus, on behalf of you Gentiles–inasmuch as you understood the plan of the grace of God, which was given to me for your purpose, that the mystery made known to me according to revelation, just as I wrote to you briefly, in accordance with reading you were able to comprehend my insight in the mystery of Christ, which was not made known by the Spirit in other generations to the people as now it was revealed to his holy apostles and prophets for Gentiles to be co-heirs and belonging to the same body and sharing of the promise in Christ Jesus with the Jews through the good news of which I was made a servant according to the gift of the grace of God, which was given to me according to the work of his power.

We need to understand that the body of Christ contains both Jews and Gentiles. It seems as though we often forget that Jews have a place in the Church. Ephesians is clear: in Christ, both Jews and Gentiles receive the grace of God. We are co-heirs of the grace of God with the Jews in Christ. We belong to the same body as the Jews in Christ. We share in the promise with the Jews in Christ. In Christ, we are both part of the same body.