Bible Commentaries
Ephesians 3

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

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Verse 1

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

Ver. 1. For this cause ] To wit, that you may be a habitation of God, through the Spirit.

I Paul, the prisoner ] I hold not St Paul so happy for his rapture into Paradise (saith Chrysostom upon this text) as for his imprisonment for Christ.

Verse 2

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

Ver. 2. Of the dispensation ] Gr. economy. The Church is God’s house, 1 Timothy 3:15 . Paul was faithful therein as a steward, Matthew 24:45 .

Verse 3

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

Ver. 3. As I wrote before in few ] sc. Ephesians 1:9 ; Ephesians 2:3 , &c. Fulness of matter in fewness of words. This is the Scripture’s precellency above all human writings.

Verse 4

4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

Ver. 4. My knowledge in the mystery ] The highest point of heavenly learning; and hereby he proveth his calling to the ministry. The priest’s lips should both preserve knowledge and present it to the people, to give them the knowledge of salvation by the remission of their sins, Malachi 2:7 ; Luke 1:77 . An ass might not be coupled with an ox in ploughing. No ignorant doltish ass may plough in God’s field, the Church; such as was that silly soul, who coming to be ordained, and being asked by the bishop, Esne dignus? answered, No, my lord, I shall dine anon with your men.

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;

Ver. 5. Was not made known ] sc. So clearly and particularly. Peter himself could hardly be persuaded to it,Acts 10:14; Acts 10:14 ; Acts 11:2-4 .

Verse 6

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

Ver. 6. Gentiles should be fellowheirs ] Co-heirs, concorporate, and consorts; three sweet societies, the former founded upon the two latter.

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.

Ver. 7. By the effectual working, &c. ] Enabling me to accept and improve that gift of God’s grace; whereunto I should otherwise turn not the palm, but the backside of the hand.

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;

Ver. 8. Less than the least ] Great Paul is least of saints, last of apostles, greatest of sinners. The best balsams sink to the bottom, the goodliest buildings have lowest foundations; the heaviest ears of grain hang downward; so do the boughs of trees that are best laden. a Ignatius in his epistles saith, I salute you who am ultimus, the last and least of all others. So in another epistle, Tantillitas nostra, our meanness.

The unsearchable riches ] Gr. ανεξιχνιαστον . Not to be traced out. Should not ministers be made welcome that come to men on such golden messages? In Christ are riches of justification, Titus 2:14 ; sanctification, Philippians 4:12-13 ; consolation, 2 Corinthians 12:9 ; glorification, 1 Peter 1:5 .

a Opulentissima metalla, quorum in alto latent venae. Sen.

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:

Ver. 9. And to make all men see ] Gr. to illighten them, far more than the preaching of the prophets could,2 Peter 1:19; 2 Peter 1:19 . To us now is a great light sprung up,Matthew 4:16; Matthew 4:16 .

The fellowship ] οικονομια . Or (as some copies have it) the dispensation.

Who created all things ] i.e. Restored, repaired. Hence gospel days are called the world to come, Hebrews 2:5 .

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,

Ver. 10. Might be known by the Church ] As by a glass or theatre.

The manifold wisdom, &c. ] Gr. πολυποικιλος , that hath abundance of curious variety in it, such as is seen in the best pictures or textures. This the very angels look intently into (as the cherubims in the tabernacle did into the mercyseat), and are much amused and amazed thereat. They see then man’s salvation by Christ is a plot of God’s own devising. Their experimental knowledge is much increased by their observation of God’s daily dealing with his people.

Verse 11

11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

Ver. 11. According to the eternal purpose ] Of calling and saving the Gentiles by Christ; a secret that the angels themselves could not understand till the afore appointed time came.

Verse 12

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

Ver. 12. Boldness and access ] True peace draws men to God, false drives them from God. Uprightness hath boldness, serenity hath security. The word προσαγωγη , rendered access, signifies such an access as is by manuduction. As Isaac took Rebecca, or as Joseph took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim by the hand and presented them to Jacob; so doth Christ take his people and lead them into his Father’s presence.

Verse 13

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

Ver. 13. Wherefore I desire ] αιτουμαι , mendico. Or, I beg of God, as one would do an alms, Acts 3:2 , humbly, heartily. And here the apostle returns to his former discourse, after a long digression,Ephesians 3:2; Ephesians 3:2 ; to Ephesians 3:13 .

At my tribulations for you ] For your sakes am I maliced and molested by the Jews; by whose means also I am now a prisoner.

Verse 14

14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Ver. 14. For this cause ] sc. That ye faint not, but gather strength.

I bow my knees ] A most seemly and suitable gesture, usual among all nations but Turks, who kneel not, nor uncover the head at prayer, as holding those postures unmanly. And yet they pray five times every day (saith Mr Terry), what occasion soever they have either by profit or pleasure to divert them.

Verse 15

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

Ver. 15. Of whom the whole family ] Or, paternity; πατρια , parentela. God is the only Father, to speak properly, Matthew 23:9 . The Father of all the fatherhood in heaven and earth.

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;

Ver. 16. According to the riches of his glory ] That is, of his grace; so 2 Corinthians 3:18 . See Trapp on " 2Co 3:18 "

Verse 17

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

Ver. 17. That Christ may dwell ] As the sun dwells in the house by his beams. Faith fetcheth Christ into the heart, as into his habitation; and if he dwell there, he is bound to all reparations.

Verse 18

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

Ver. 18. The breadth and length, &c. ] God’s mercy hath all the dimensions. "Thy mercy, O God, reacheth to the heavens," Psalms 36:5 . There is the height of it. "Great is thy mercy toward me, and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell," Psalms 86:13 . There is the depth of his mercy. "The earth is full of thy goodness." There is the breadth of it. "All the ends of the earth have seen thy salvation." There is the length of it. The apostle sets out Christ’s love with the four dimensions of the cross; to put us in mind (say the ancient writers) that upon the extent of the tree was the most exact love with all the dimensions in this kind represented, that ever was.

Verse 19

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

Ver. 19. With, all the fulness of God ] That is, of Christ’s diffusive fulness, in whom the Godhead dwelt bodily, and in whom we are complete, Colossians 2:9-10 .

And to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge ] Chrysostom speaking of this love of God in Christ, Oh, saith he, I am like a man digging in a deep spring; I stand here, and the water riseth upon me; I stand there, and still the water riseth upon me. But though we cannot ever know it all, yet we may and must grow in the knowledge of this love of Christ, in the searching of this sea that hath neither bank nor bottom; and where, as in the salt waters, "the deeper the sweeter."

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,

Ver. 20. Exceeding abundantly ] Gr. υπερ εκ περισσου , more than exceedingly or excessively. God hath not only a fulness of abundance, but of redundance; of plenty, but of bounty. He is often better to us than our prayers.

According to the power ] The apostle begins his prayer with mention of God’s fatherly mercy; he shuts it up with a description of his power. These two, God’s might and God’s mercy, are the Jachin and Boaz, the two main pillars of a Christian’s faith, whereon it rests in prayer.

Verse 21

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

Ver. 21. Glory in the church of Christ ] Who is the refulgency of his Father’s glory, Hebrews 1:3 .

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Ephesians 3". Trapp's Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.