April 7, 2002

                                                       Ephesians 3:1-13



v. 2 – “the dispensation of the grace of God” (ch. 2:8-10) – in vs. 5-6 --Paul says this

            dispensation “in other ages was not made known unto men (that

            is, the church age – the last 2000 years)….that the Gentiles should be fellow     

            heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by

            the gospel”


vs. 3 & 5 – That it was “by revelation He made known unto me the         

            mystery…..revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit”


            How that, by revelation, was made known unto me the mystery.

            The mystery, as is explained afterwards (ver. 6), was not the

            gospel itself, but its destination to the Gentiles as much as to the Jews;

            although, as appears afterwards, this fullness of blessing is really the great

            glory of the gospel. Mystery, that which is known only to the initiated,

            does not denote here a thing obscure in its own nature, but only something

            that had been concealed from view. It was only the initiated that now knew

            that God designed the gospel for Gentile and Jew alike. Paul had been

            initiated “by revelation” — not by his own reflecting power, not by his

            study of Scripture, not by communication from ether men, but by a special

            communication from God (Galatians 1:12).


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v. 6 – That the Gentiles would be included in the Plan of Salvation.


The promise to Abraham – “in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of

the earth be blessed” – Genesis 12:3 – this blessing does not come by being

a Jew or through the Jews but directly to Gentiles from Christ, the Son of God!


v. 7 – “Of which I became a minister; according to the gift of the grace of God” –

            the power of my ministry comes from God, not me, says Paul.


v. 8  - “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints”


            Not only of apostles and prophets, but even of all believers — a profound        

            expression of humility, founded not only on his persecuting career, but on his

            consciousness of sin, of inborn rebellion against God’s Law, of fountains of

            unlawful desire in his flesh (Romans 7:18; 1 Timothy 1:13-15),

            making him feel himself to be, in heart and essence, the chief of sinners.

            The sense of sin is not usually in proportion to the acts of outward

            transgression, but to the insight into the springs of evil in one’s heart, and

            the true nature of sin as direct antagonism to the holy God.



was this grace given” – the third time in this chapter that he speaks of his

   office as a fruit of grace!


to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ”


Acts 26:16-18 – Paul’s testimony before Herod Agrippa


(Illustration of my grandson, Parker, nearly two years old and when visiting

 looked in a room in our house and said in a coarse voice “Its dark in there”)


I say that the world, without Christ, is much darker than that room!


Matthew 6:23 – Jesus said “if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full

                           of darkness.  If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness,                                          

                           how great is that darkness!”


e]qnov, eth’-nos; probably from  (e]qw); a race (as of the

same habit), i.e. a tribe; specially a foreign (non-Jewish) one

(usually by implication pagan): — Gentile, heathen, nation,



ethnos” – heathen – an offensive name – yet with which the apostle associates

                                     highest blessings of God.


Two attractive words – riches and unsearchable – conveying the idea of the

things that are most precious, being infinitely abundant.  Usually, precious

things are rare; their rarity increases their price but here that which is most

precious is also boundless – riches of compassion and love, of merit, of

sanctifying, comforting and transforming power and without limit – capable

of satisfying every want, craving, and yearning of the heart, now and forever!


Much more abundant but on the same principle as air, sunshine and water!


The thought of having such riches to offer made Paul consider that his office

was regarded as glorious, although apparently, the world would despise both

it and the message?


Paul is thankful to God for having conferred this honor on him.


v. 9 – “And to make all men see” – Why the ignorance?  Why the rebellion

            that rejects it?


The answer is in II Corinthians 4:4-7


This connects us back to the last thing I was saying two weeks ago where

we pick up with the lesson on March 10 starting with the connection between

the heart and the intellect.  The brown below is in reference to  Ephesians 1:18 –

the eyes of your understanding being enlightened”


V. 18 - The connection between heart & intellect

                                                Matt. 13:13-15


The Bible speaks of:  “applying our hearts unto wisdom”

                                                Ps. 90:12


It has been said “the head is the dupe of the heart” -


            dupe - one that is easily fooled, stupid bird,

                        easily tricked.


Those that stand for nothing will fall for anything.


The Scripture is very emphatic in making the connection

between knowledge & holiness.


having the understanding darkened”


"The entrance of thy words giveth light"  -  Ps. 119:130


* Purity of heart gives insight.

* Purity of heart rather than accuracy of thought is the

   order of the kingdom.


This is why so many pseudo- intellectuals & spin doctors

of the day are out in left field.


I am amazed at the brazenness & defiance spewed out by such

in open defiance of the revelation of God.


They cannot think purely, therefore they think not clearly!


Romans 1:16-32


Matt. 18:5-6     Bibles in the public school library are under lock & key but

                          Easter displays of bunnies & plastic eggs are out in the open

                          for a candid world to see?




Take an athletic man, the most perfect specimen of athletic

training, bone, flesh & sinew, if that is all, he is but 1/3 of a

man and useless to society.  Send him to the schools & cram

his mind full, he is but 2/3 of a man, and dangerous as well

as useless.  Put Christ in his heart, to control & urge his

purpose & you have an ideal man, 3/3 or a total man.


Psalm 2:1- 4  of Jesus


John 7:17a,b


How often do we find in human life that interest, vanity, fear,

and party spirit determine the conclusions of the intellect.  Our

opinions often depend upon our lives quite as much as

our lives depend upon our opinions.


It is God who gives insight!  I John 5:20


Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the

kingdom of God!  John 3:3


It is God who giveth the light of the knowledge of the

glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus - II Cor. 4:6


Our highest knowledge is a Divine gift - Luke 8:10


Every Christian, yea, every man’s prayer should be

open thou mine eyes, that I may see wondrous things

 out of thy law” - Ps. 119:18


back to ch.3: 9 – “what is the dispensation of the mystery which from the beginning                                     

of the ages hath been hid in God” – (before the foundation of the world)


who created all things”


This is no trifling matter; it connects itself with GOD’S GRANDEST OPERATIONS - 

it might be supposed to have relations with only one race or one period of time, but it

has relations with “ALL THINGS”


by Jesus Christ”




v. 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”


A lesson for the unfallen angels – their interest in the scheme of man’s

redemption is mentioned in I Peter 1:12


As if to imply that the work of redemption represents the highest order

of intelligencethus the disappointment to miss the mark in the end –

and the self-reproach for eternity in Hell.


Even the highest powers of heaven have yet much to learn respecting

God, yet vain man curses Him and uses His Precious name in vain every

day – the Lord has warned that that man will not be guiltless – Exodus 20:7.


The dispensation of God’s grace to man is one of the angels’ lesson books!


I would like to recommend Clarence Larkin’s book on Dispensational Truth.


It is in our church library.


I recommend checking out www.larkinbooks.com.


So dread a sacrifice as the life of God’s Son could not have been made just for one

poor planet, in its indirect bearings we do not know what orders of beings have

derived most vital lessons from this MANFESTATION OF THE ATTRIBUTES



However men may scorn the salvation of Christ and all that belongs to it, the

highest intelligences regard it with PROFOUND INTEREST!


Yet: How the disinterest today?  Why the disinterest today?  Why the neglect of

the soul?  The attitude of man is often portrayed by Satan when, before God, he

accuses Job by saying “skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his

 life” – Job 2:4


Why the stupidity?  Why the ignorance?


What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?  Mark 8:37


My apologies to Bro. Laster (filled in last week for me) in whom I have

 utmost confidence in his handling of chapter 2 but I must refer to that

passage when I studied Ephesians from Feb. 3, to March 16, 1976, and

I made a note to connect a reference on p. 61 in my commentary to this

passage.  The following in red is to what I refer:


Ch. 2:1 refers to the condition of being dead in trespasses and sins.


Here the killing effect of sin is indicated.  Sins of sensuality kill truthfulness,

industry, integrity and all virtue, so sin generally affecting as it does our whole

 nature, kills or does not suffer to live, the affections and movements of the



For reference:  Take the sarcastic attack on public knowledge of the Ten

Commandments by a judge for Caldwell, Lyon, Trigg and Livingston counties

– 56th district circuit judge – a huge article in The Kentucky New Era of yesterday,

 April 6, 2002


The conversation with Bob McCord coming back from a golf outing at Russellville

 last Friday – what his generation was taught – comparing it to endangered species’

loss of habitat and getting below a certain number (in this instance people that fear

the Lord)  Ten righteous men in Sodom would have prevented its overthrow.

(Genesis 18:23-33)


Side effects of this condition are:  a state of insensibility, utter powerlessness and

helplessness to do anything about it from a human standpoint. 


2:2 – “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world” – a life

            of walking but not normal life, a sort of galvanized corpse or of walking in                      

            one’s sleep.


the world” – the present system of things, only things that are seen and temporal

with no regard to God or the future life.  Where there is spiritual death there is

insensibility to these things.


according to the prince of the power of the air” – denotes evil spirits influencing

by temptations to draw people in worldly directions contrary to the will of God.


the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience”


Unfortunately, persons of disobedience, bred by disobedience, having disobedience

 in their very nature. 


“The carnal mind is enmity against God” – Romans 8:7


2:3 – “fulfilling the desires of the flesh and mind” - a life of indulgence marked by        

the absence of any controlling regard to the will of God.


Psalm 2:2-4


As if, life is to be spent in the lusts and desires of our flesh, living for no noble ends,

as if there were nothing higher than to please the carnal nature?


“To be spiritually minded is life and peace but to be carnally minded is death” – Romans 8:6


Jeremiah 5:23  - “But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart;

                              they are revolted and gone”





Now back to chapter 3.


v. 11 – “According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our                      



The apostle is anxious that we connect these operations of God with the profundity,

deliberation and awfulness of the eternal decree – the whole element in which the

whole scheme of grace had its beginning, its progress and its end!


v. 12 – “In whom we have boldness and access”


Contrast with Adam hiding himself among the trees of the garden (Genesis 3:8)

and with the lost in Revelation calling on mountains to fall on them and rocks to

cover them (Revelation 6:12-17).


“In confidence through the faith of Him” – confidence of being welcomed and

accepted when we go through Christ, our Propitiation, our Peace and our

Reconciler to God.


He is not a means of deliverance out of the hands of God but casting ourselves

into the hands of God, He is the very best Friend we have in the universe!


Remember the influence of the old hymn What a Friend We Have in Jesus