Commission to Preach God’s Plan.* 1Because of this,a I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ* [Jesus] for you Gentiles— 2if, as I suppose, you have heard of the stewardship* of God’s grace that was given to me for your benefit,b 3[namely, that] the mystery* was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly earlier.c 4When you read this you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5which was not made known to human beings in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit,d 6that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.e
7Of this I became a minister by the gift of God’s grace that was granted me in accord with the exercise of his power.f 8To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ,g 9and to bring to light [for all]* what is the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things,h 10so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the principalities and authorities* in the heavens.i 11This was according to the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12in whom we have boldness of speech and confidence of access through faith in him.j 13So I ask you not to lose heart over my afflictions for you; this is your glory.k
Prayer for the Readers.* 14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom every family* in heaven and on earth is named, 16that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self,l 17and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love,m 18may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth,n 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.o
20Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us,p 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
* [3:1–13] Paul reflects on his mission to the Gentiles. He alludes to his call and appointment to the apostolic office (Eph 3:2–3) and how his insight through revelation, as well as that of the other apostles and charismatic prophets in the church (Eph 3:4–5), has deepened understanding of God’s plan of salvation in Christ. Paul is the special herald (Eph 3:7) of a new promise to the Gentiles (Eph 3:6): that the divine plan includes them in the spiritual benefits promised to Israel. Not only is this unique apostolic role his; Paul also has been given the task of explaining to all the divine plan of salvation (Eph 3:8–9), once hidden. Through the church, God’s plan to save through Christ is becoming manifest to angelic beings (Eph 3:10; cf. Eph 1:21), in accord with God’s purpose (Eph 3:11). The fulfillment of the plan in Christ gives the whole church more confidence through faith in God (Eph 3:12). The readers of this letter are also thereby encouraged to greater confidence despite Paul’s imprisonment (Eph 3:13).
* [3:1] A prisoner of Christ: see Introduction. Paul abruptly departs from his train of thought at the end of Eph 3:1 leaving an incomplete sentence.
* [3:2] Stewardship: the Greek is the same term employed at Eph 1:10 for the plan that God administers (Col 1:25) and in which Paul plays a key role.
* [3:3–4] The mystery: God’s resolve to deliver Gentiles along with Israel through Christ; cf. notes on Eph 1:10; 3:9.
* [3:9] [For all]: while some think this phrase was added so as to yield the sense “to enlighten all about the plan…,” it is more likely that some manuscripts and Fathers omitted it accidentally or to avoid the idea that all conflicted with Paul’s assignment to preach to the Gentiles (Eph 3:8) specifically.
* [3:10] Principalities and authorities: see note on Eph 1:15–23 regarding Eph 3:21.
* [3:14–21] The apostle prays that those he is addressing may, like the rest of the church, deepen their understanding of God’s plan of salvation in Christ. It is a plan that affects the whole universe (Eph 3:15) with the breadth and length and height and depth of God’s love in Christ (Eph 3:18) or possibly the universe in all its dimensions. The apostle prays that they may perceive the redemptive love of Christ for them and be completely immersed in the fullness of God (Eph 3:19). The prayer concludes with a doxology to God (Eph 3:20–21).
* [3:14–15] Every family: in the Greek there is wordplay on the word for the Father (patria, patēr). The phrase could also mean “God’s whole family” (cf. Eph 2:21).
a. [3:1] Phil 1:7, 13; Col 1:24–29; 4:18; Phlm 9; 2 Tm 2:9.
f. [3:7] Rom 15:15; Col 1:25, 29.
g. [3:8] 1 Cor 15:8–10; Gal 1:16; 2:7–9.
h. [3:9] Rom 16:25; Col 1:26–27.
j. [3:12] Rom 5:1–2; Heb 4:16.
k. [3:13] Col 1:22, 24; 2 Tm 2:10.
l. [3:16] 6:10; Rom 7:22; 2 Cor 4:16; Col 1:11.
m. [3:17] Jn 14:23; Col 1:23; 2:7.