Ephesians 3 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Ephesians 3)

Verse 1

[1] For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,

For this cause — That ye may be so "built together," I am a prisoner for you gentiles - For your advantage, and for asserting your right to these blessings. This it was which so enraged the Jews against him.

Verse 2

[2] If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:

The dispensation of the grace of God given me in your behalf — That is, the commission to dispense the gracious gospel; to you gentiles in particular. This they had heard from his own mouth.

Verse 3

[3] How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,

The mystery — Of salvation by Christ alone, and that both to Jews and gentiles.

As I wrote before — Namely, Ephesians 1:9,10; the very words of which passage he here repeats.

Verse 5

[5] Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

Which in other — In former, ages was not so clearly or fully made known to the sons of men - To any man, no, not to Ezekiel, so often styled, "son of man;" nor to any of the ancient prophets. Those here spoken of are New Testament prophets.

Verse 6

[6] That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

That the gentiles are joint-heirs — Of God.

And of the same body — Under Christ the head.

And joint-partakers of his promise — The communion of the Holy Ghost.

Verse 7

[7] Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.

According to the gift of the grace of God — That is, the apostle - ship which he hath graciously given me, and which he hath qualified me for.

By the effectual working of his power — In me and by me.

Verse 8

[8] Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given — Here are the noblest strains of eloquence to paint the exceeding low opinion the apostle had of himself, and the fulness of unfathomable blessings which are treasured up in Christ.

Verse 9

[9] And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:

What is the fellowship of the mystery — What those mysterious blessings are whereof all believers jointly partake. Which was, in a great measure, hidden from eternity by God, who, to make way for the free exercise of his love, created all things - This is the foundation of all his dispensations.

Verse 10

[10] To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

That the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church — By what is done in the church, which is the theatre of the divine wisdom.

Verse 12

[12] In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

By whom we have free access — Such as those petitioners have, who are introduced to the royal presence by some distinguished favourite.

And boldness — Unrestrained liberty of speech, such as children use in addressing an indulgent father, when, without fear of offending, they disclose all their wants, and make known all their requests.

Verse 13

[13] Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

The not fainting is your glory.

Verse 15

[15] Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

Of whom — The Father. The whole family of angels in heaven, saints in paradise, and believers on earth is named. Being the "children of God," (a more honourable title than "children of Abraham,") and depending on him as the Father of the family.

Verse 16

[16] That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

The riches of his glory — The immense fulness of his glorious wisdom, power, and mercy.

The inner man — The soul.

Verse 17

[17] That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,

Dwell — That is, constantly and sensibly abide.

Verse 18

[18] May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;

That being rooted and grounded — That is, deeply fixed and firmly established, in love. Ye may comprehend - So far as an human mind is capable.

What is the breadth of the love of Christ — Embracing all mankind.

And length — From everlasting to everlasting.

And depth — Not to be fathomed by any creature.

And height — Not to be reached by any enemy.

Verse 19

[19] And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

And to know — But the apostle corrects himself, and immediately observes, it cannot be fully known. This only we know, that the love of Christ surpasses all knowledge. That ye may be filled - Which is the sum of all.

With all the fulness of God — With all his light, love, wisdom, holiness, power, and glory. A perfection far beyond a bare freedom from sin.

Verse 20

[20] Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

Now to him — This doxology is admirably adapted to strengthen our faith, that we may not stagger at the great things the apostle has been praying for, as if they were too much for God to give, or for us to expect from him.

That is able — Here is a most beautiful gradation. When he has given us exceeding, yea, abundant blessings, still we may ask for more. And he is able to do it. But we may think of more than we have asked. He is able to do this also. Yea, and above all this.

Above all we ask — Above all we can think. Nay, exceedingly, abundantly above all that we can either ask or think.

Verse 21

[21] Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

In the church — On earth and in heaven.