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.

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