Digression on the Admission of the Gentiles
1 “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,”
For this cause. The reference is not merely to the last statement or illustration, but to
the whole view of the purpose of God toward the Gentiles unfolded in ch. 2. The
apodosis (main clause) does not come in till v.14, at the beginning of which this
conjunctive clause is repeated. I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles,
He introduces himself in order to make known the feelings which were roused in his
soul towards them by the consideration of the privileges just enlarged on — especially
to acquaint them with the prayers he offered for them (see vs. 14-19), and apparently
with the indirect object of getting them to offer similar prayers for themselves. To
justify this introduction of himself, he delicately introduces the fact of his being a
their behalf. What had brought him to
to Caesar, was his preaching the gospel to the Gentiles; (fulfilling his call – Acts
CY – 2010) indeed, the immediate occasion of his arrest at
was the suspicion that he had taken Trophimus, an Ephesian, one of themselves,
into the temple (Ibid. ch. 21:29). By this allusion to the condition into which his
regard for them had brought him, he conciliates sympathetic consideration of what
is to follow.
The Prisoner of Jesus Christ (v. 1)
The apostle often refers to his prison-life, and here presents himself to the
Churches as “an ambassador in bonds” (ch. 6:20).
· HE WAS A MOST CELEBRATED PRISONER. Perhaps he was
regarded as of no great account by his Roman jailors, who could have
known nothing of the secret of his greatness; but viewed in the light of
Christian history, Paul is the most distinguished of men. He did more than
any other apostle to shape the theology of Western Christendom, which, in
its turn, has left the deepest imprint on THE CIVIILIZATION OF THE
WORLD! The world would not be today what it is if Paul of Tarsus had not
lived. His influence has long survived the empire of
captive. We sympathize with the prison-sorrows of the great. Alas! that the
best of men, “of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:38), have
spent so many weary days and years in prison!
· HE WAS NOT A PRISONER FOR CRIME OR FOR THE BREACH
OF THE ROMAN LAWS, BUT AS THE EFFECT OF THE
UNSLEEPING HATRED OF THE JEWS. It was his ministry to the
Gentiles which brought down upon him the vindictive anger of his
countrymen, and led them to accuse him before the Roman magistrates.
The suspicion that he had taken Trophimus, an Ephesian, into the temple at
(Acts 21:27-29) “He was at once Christ’s prisoner, the Jews’ prisoner,
the Romans’ prisoner, the Gentiles’ prisoner: Christ’s prisoner, as suffering
for His gospel; the Jews’ prisoner, as suffering by their accusation;
the Romans’ prisoner, as suffering by their sentence; the Gentiles’ prisoner,
as suffering for his labor’s unto their salvation.” His imprisonment was thus
a higher honor than his rapture into the third Heavens. (II Corinthians
· HIS IMPRISONMENT HAD ITS PROVIDENTIAL ADVANTAGES.
Just as John Huss had leisure during his imprisonment in
the fortress on the
countrymen ages after his martyrdom at
one year’s imprisonment in the Wartburg enabled him to give the
was enabled in the leisure of his Roman imprisonment to pen those
beautiful Epistles of the captivity — to the Philippians, to the Ephesians, to
the Colossians, to Philemon — which have so largely contributed to the
edification and comfort of the Church. He still held the threads of a
hundred interests in his hands, and felt in his prison at
of thousands of Christian hearts in all parts of Asia and
· PRISON-LIFE IS ALMOST NECESSARILY SAD, BECAUSE OF
ITS ISOLATION FROM HUMAN RELATIONS, ITS SOLITUDE, ITS
SUSPENSION OF ACTIVE AND ACCUSTOMED LABOR, AND ITS
USUALLY HARD CONDITIONS. It must have been a sore trial to the
apostle to submit to an enforced inactivity, while the world was
everywhere, in so sad a sense, “ripe for the harvest.” It would seem as if, at
a certain point, the sympathy of Asiatic Christians failed him (II Timothy 1:15);
and there was an unaccountable indifference to his wants marking the relations
of the Roman Christians themselves, which argued that much was not to be
expected from their affection. So his prison experience must have had its
· MARK THE SPIRIT IN WHICH THE APOSTLE LIVED
THROUGH THIS PRISON-EXPERIENCE. The solitude of such a life
often breeds a morbid spirit, which throws a darker coloring into the
thoughts of the prisoner. Yet the Epistles of the captivity breathe a
beautiful spirit of Christian courage and resignation, not to speak of
absolute rejoicing. Compare the letters of the apostle with
Seneca, and Ovid in their exile, and we see at a glance the different effects
of Christianity and paganism upon the happiness of man. As the prisoner of
Jesus Christ, he abounded in the consolations of his Divine Master, while
he must have been greatly encouraged by the visits of disciples like
Epaphroditus, Epaphras, and others, who carried to him the prayers and
benefactions of the Churches.
· WE OUGHT TO REMEMBER PRISONERS IN OUR PRAYERS,
AS “BOUND WITH THEM.” Most prisoners in our day are in jail for
crime, but we ought to remember that they are men, that they are our
brothers, that they must feel their separation from wife and children and
home as keenly as we should. Perhaps, but for restraining grace, we should
have been in their position. But we are bound specially to remember in
our prayers those suffering for the cause of Christ, and especially those
occupied with great service for the Lord.
The Prisoner of Christ Jesus (v. 1)
Paul writes from his Roman dungeon, with the galling constraints of his
confinement constantly about him. There is a pathos in the situation that
must move the sympathy of the reader; and yet there is a dignity and even a
glory in it that make us feel the apostle’s occasional reference to his bonds
chiefly a motive for giving the greater weight and solemnity to his
· THE FAITHFUL SERVANT OF CHRIST MAY BECOME A
PRISONER IN HIS CAUSE. Paul was called into the apostleship from
a worldly position of great influence and brilliant prospects. He was the
most gifted and the most devoted man in the Christian Church. No one
labored more assiduously, and no one met with more marked success. Yet
it has all come to this, that the great, honored apostle lies chained in a
Roman prison, his life at the mercy of the “mad boy” Nero. The end might
have been expected in this form. “A disciple is not above his master, nor a
servant above his lord.” (Matthew 10:24) If the Lord was crucified, shall
we be surprised that the servant is imprisoned? Still some are perplexed and
disappointed, not at suffering these great hardships, but at having to bear
any cross for Christ. Christianity is the religion of the cross for the Christian
as truly as for Christ.
MAY ENDANGER THE
ITS ADVOCATE. Paul was a prisoner “in behalf of you Gentiles.” We
know, from the history in the Acts, that it was through the enmity of Jews
that the apostle was accused before the Roman government, and that this
enmity was roused by the jealousy they felt at his preaching the gospel to
the Gentiles, and advocating the Gentile right to an equality with the Jew.
Paul was the preacher of the more liberal Christianity of his day and
therefore he was most grievously misunderstood and most bitterly
opposed. They who feel called to preach more liberal views than are
sanctioned by the prevailing opinions of the age may expect opposition, but
may learn the duty of courage and fidelity to truth, and may be cheered by
thinking of the lonely sufferers in the same cause in bygone days, when the
larger views and the freer doctrines were more vigorously opposed than
they can be now. The noble champions of liberal Christianity, from Paul
to Maurice, have won substantial victories from which we profit.
· IT IS BETTER TO BE A PRISONER FOR CHRIST AND
TRUTH THAN TO BE AT
AND IN UNCHARITABLE NARROWNESS, After all, the prisoner at
Christ was with him in his bondage. His was the real blessedness of those
who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Paul was the champion of
freedom as opposed to the restraints of Judaism, and this real, spiritual
freedom could not be destroyed by bolts and bars.
“Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage.”
The immortal dreamer had large liberty in
the Beulah heights and almost as far as the gates of the celestial city.
· THE PRISONER WHO SUFFERS FOR A GOOD CAUSE LAYS
GREAT OBLIGATIONS UPON ALL WHO BENEFIT FROM IT.
Paul quietly appeals to his imprisonment as a ground for prayer (v. 14)
and exhortation (ch. 4:1). The sufferings of the great martyrs of liberty
in the past urge us, who have entered into the heritage won by their
toil and death, to be faithful to so great a trust, to walk worthy of it by
using our liberty as an opportunity for the highest service of love, and to
preserve it from all encroachments and hand it down to our children
unfettered by new restraints of theological dogma or of official domination.
2 “If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me
to you-ward:’ If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God. Here begins
the digression. The words, “if ye have heard,” do not denote an uncertainty, but are a
reminder. Doubtless they had heard of the matter when he was at
and, as he remarks in v. 3, he had already written briefly on it. Grace is here used in a
more restricted sense than in ch. 1:2 — in the sense of Divine favor, honor, privilege -
the same as in v. 8, “To me... is this favor given.” Which is given me to you-ward.
The grace or favor meant is that whereby Paul was constituted the apostle of the
Gentiles. Deeply though he felt his being sent away from preaching to his
countrymen (Acts 22:18), he took kindly to the new sphere allotted to him, and
magnified his office (Romans 11:13)
3 “How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote
afore in few words,” How that by revelation He made known unto me the
mystery. The mystery, as is explained afterwards (v. 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) As I wrote
before in few words. Where? In another Epistle? No; but in the earlier part of
this Epistle (see chps. 1:9; 2:18). If it be said the allusions in these places to the
topic in question are rather vague and general, the apostle virtually admits it —
he wrote of it “in few words;” but, as it is a great and glorious truth, he returns to
it to amplify it and place it in a brighter light.
4 “Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of
Christ). - πρὸς ὃ - pros ho – toward which - with reference to which, i.e. to what I
wrote afore: to make that more intelligible I write on the subject more fully now,
so that you shall see that your instructor is thoroughly informed in this matter of
the mystery in Christ — this once concealed but now revealed purpose of His grace!
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 ages
was not made known unto the sons of men. Though not a new purpose, the knowledge
of it is new. Abraham, David, and the prophets, however much they knew of Christ
and the fullness of blessing in Him for all the families of the earth, did not know
THE FULL EXTENT OF GOD’S GRACE to the Gentries — did not know that the
middle wall (v. 14) was to be wholly broken down, and all inequality removed. This
might seem to throw some doubt on the reality of this doctrine; but it was on purpose
that God kept it secret, and those by whom He has now revealed it are worthy of all
regard. As it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.
It is not revealed to Paul only, although he has got the privilege of announcing it to
the Gentiles, but to the whole body of “holy apostles and prophets.” The designation,
“holy apostles,” is rare; it is used here to magnify the office, to show that those whom
the Head of the Church had set apart for Himself were fit instruments to receive so
important a revelation. “Prophets” here are undoubtedly New Testament prophets
(see ch. 2:20), the contrast being with “sons of men in other generations.” Reference
may be made to the experience and decree of the Council of Jerusalem, guided by the
Holy Spirit (see Acts 15:28).
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 should be fellowheirs.
Heirs with the Jews of the same inheritance (see ch. 1:11). And of the same body
(this figure is repeated and applied in ch. 4:4, 16, 25) and partakers of His promise
in Christ by the gospel - the promise to Abraham, “In thee and in thy seed shall all
the families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3) They do not get this blessing
indirectly through the Jews, or by becoming Jews, but directly, as Gentiles; and
they become fellow-heirs, fellow-members, and fellow-partakers “in Christ Jesus,”
enjoying all privileges in Him, in a state of union and fellowship with Him. To this
state they are invited and admitted through the gospel; by receiving the glad tidings
they enter on these blessings (compare Romans 10:15,18). This statement of religious
equality between Jews and Gentiles is strong, clear, complete; the more remarkable
that Paul himself had had so strong Jewish prejudices; only one of dearest insight and
highest courage could proclaim the truth so emphatically; it is little wonder if many
believing Jews, less enlightened and less courageous, shrank from his statements
as too strong. (How this would play along racial lines today would give us an
accurate assessment of our spiritual condition BEFORE GOD! CY – 2019)
Dispensational Privileges of the Gentiles (vs. 2-5)
The apostle recurs to a subject already treated in few words in the first
chapter — words which he requests them to read, that they may fully
understand his meaning — respecting the new position of the Gentiles in
is, by an arrangement organized in all its parts in relation to space and time;
for God works by order in grace as well as in nature. Consider:
· THE ORIGIN OF THIS DISPENSATION. “The grace of God given to
me to you-ward.” It was an act of Divine favor to select the apostle as the
person through whom “the mystery” of the dispensation was to be, not
only revealed, but applied in its redeeming effects to the Ephesian
heathens. It was not the honor or the authority involved in it that made it
precious in his eyes; it was the privilege of making known the unsearchable
riches of Christ. Thus, as a good steward of the mysteries of God, it was
the delight of his life to dispense them in all their gracious manifoldness to
the family of God.
· THE MYSTERY THAT SHROUDED THE DISPENSATION’ FOR AGES.
ü It is called “the mystery of Christ,” not because He is its Author, but
because He is the Center or Subject of it; for it included far more than the
truth that the Gentiles were fellow-citizens of the saints. Christ is the
Mystery of godliness, as He is God manifest in the flesh (I Timothy 3:16),
but He is emphatically so as “Christ the Hope of glory” for the Gentiles
ü It was hidden for ages from the sons of men, both Jew and Gentile. A
mystery is either something which has been concealed, perhaps for ages,
and which probably would never have been discovered unless the voice of
revelation had proclaimed it; or something which, even when revealed,
transcends the power of the human faculties to comprehend it. Now, the
Incarnation is a mystery in this double sense; but the call of the Gentiles, as
part of “the mystery of Christ,” is a mystery only in the first-named sense.
It was known to the Jews for ages that the Gentiles would share in the
blessings of the Messiah’s kingdom — and the Apostle Paul quotes Old
Testament predictions to prove the fact (Romans 9:25-33); but it was
not known that the Gentiles would be included within the circle of religious
privilege by the complete sacrifice of the Hebrew theocracy and the
reconstitution of religion on a perfectly new basis, DESIGNED
EQUALLY FOR ALL MANKIND, under which the old distinctions of
Jew and. Gentile would be done away. There was to be no further room for
Jewish particularism. The dispensation which was to carry the world to its
last destinies was to be as universal as that embodied in the first promise
made to our first parents.
ü The revelation of the mystery. So far as it involved a mission to the
Gentiles, it was revealed first to the Apostle Paul at his conversion; for
when Christ appeared to him on his journey to
appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a
witness... delivering thee from the people, and. from the Gentiles, unto
whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness
to light, and from the power of Satan unto God” (Acts 26:16-18). But
the fuller exhibition of Gentile privilege is made in this glorious Epistle as
well as elsewhere. It was a revelation made by the Lord Himself
(Galatians 1:12). But it was made especially to “apostles and
prophets,” both of them belonging to the new dispensation the only class of
inspired men connected with it who received special information from the
Holy Spirit, who searches the deep things of God, respecting the new
development of the kingdom. The revelation was, indeed, one of facts as
well as of truths. The calling of the Gentiles was made manifest in the
Spirit’s falling upon Cornelius, and in the widespread success of the gospel
among the Gentiles, so that the logic of facts beautifully reinforced the
more formal revelations of “apostles and prophets.”
ü The substance of the revelation. “That the Gentiles are fellow-heirs, and
of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel.”
These are the three points of Gentile privilege. They were not to receive
the blessings of the Messiah’s kingdom by being merged as proselytes into
the old theocracy, which was to abide in all its narrow ritualism.
Ø The Gentiles are fellow-heirs. Possession by inheritance involves the
ideas of right, certainty, and inalienableness. All that is involved in the
benefits of the covenant of grace is our inheritance. Now, the Gentiles
are “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ” as well as the Jews,
just because they are “children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” They
cannot be heirs unless they are children; they cannot be children unless
they have faith. And because they have faith, they are Abraham’s seed.
“And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs
according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). The Gentile interest
in the inheritance may be recent, but it is entire and beyond cavil.
Jews and Gentiles have an equal share in all the blessings of the
Ø The Gentiles are of the same body. This marks a more intimate
relationship. They were all Jews and Gentiles alike, baptized into
one body by one Spirit, and thus coalesced into one Church-state,
with Christ as the Head of both. But while they were thus, as members
of one body, partakers of a common life, the Gentile was not there by
the permission of the Jew, or the Jew by the permission of the Gentile.
They were both equally baptized into it BY THE SPIRIT! The union
in one body obliterates all previous distinctions of character or culture,
and all varieties in dispensational privilege; for there is no schism in
the body. The Judaistic section of the Church in the apostle’s day
fought strenuously against the doctrine of the one body.
Ø The Gentiles are fellow-partakers of the promise. This refers, not so
much to the promise of redemption made first to Adam, repeated to
Abraham, and embodied in many Old Testament predictions, as to the
promise of the Spirit, who enables us to realize all the blessings
involved in this first promise. This was, indeed, the blessing of
Abraham which came upon the Gentiles (Galatians 3:14). It was
conspicuously realized when, in the words of the Apostle Peter,
“the Holy Ghost fell upon them as on us.” (Acts 11:15) There is
no promise of the new covenant that is not equally sure to Gentile
and to Jew. All the three points of Gentile privilege, setting forth
apparently the relation to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and
represented in a sort of spiritual climax, are realized by union
with Christ, made known to us in the gospel. Salvation centers,
as its objective ground, IN CHRIST JESUS and the gospel is the
medium by which it is subjectively applied to sinners of mankind.
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.” Whereof I was made a
minister. I did not gradually grow up to the office, but became, at a given time and
place, a minister, διάκονος - dee-ak’-on-os – deacon; ministe;, a servant. According
to the gift of the grace of God. The office of serving Christ was a gift, most undeserved
on Paul’s part, who had been a persecutor and injurious, (I Timothy 1:13) but flowing
from the free grace of God, His sovereign, unmerited mercy.
“given unto me by the effectual working of His power.” This denotes the manner of
the gift; the gift itself, apostleship to the Gentiles, would have been little had it not
been accompanied with Divine power. Spiritual office without spiritual power
is miserable; but in Paul’s case there was the power as well as the office;
not merely the power of working miracles, as some have held, but besides this,
the power of spiritual insight into the meaning of Scripture:
· power of exposition,
· power of demonstration,
· power of persuasion (compare I Thessalonians 1:5; Acts 14:1; I Corinthians 4:7).
Paul gratefully acknowledged that all the power of his ministry was God’s, not his own
(I Corinthians 3:6-7).
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,” 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; I 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! Is this grace given. The third time in this chapter that he speaks of his
office as a fruit of grace, showing that, notwithstanding his being a prisoner on account
of it, and all the perils it involved (II Corinthians 11:24-27), he was overwhelmed with
God’s unmerited goodness in conferring it on him. It was substantially the post of a
foreign missionary, with hardly one human comfort! That I should preach among the
Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; εὐγγελίσασθαι - euggelisasthai –
to evangelize, to proclaim good tidings; to bring the well-message. The force of the
εὐ is not given in “preach,” but the idea is amply conveyed by the words that follow.
The balance of authority for τοῖς ἔθνεσι – tois ethnesi - to the Gentiles, and ἐν τοῖς
ἔθνεσι – en tois ethnesi - among the Gentiles, is about equal; the meaning really the
same. Ἔθνος - ethnos - heathen, was almost an offensive name; yet with that name
the apostle associates the highest blessings of God. The unsearchable
riches of Christ; 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 very 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, all without limit, and capable of satisfying every want, craving,
and yearning of the heart, NOW and EVERMORE! (And to think, besides that,
GOD IS ABUNDANT IN TRUTH! Exodus 34:6 – CY – 2019) The thought of His
having such riches to offer to all made him regard his office as most glorious, raised
him far above the point of view from which the world would despise it, and filled
him with adoring gratitude to God for having conferred it on him. Concerning riches,
worldly riches, there has historically been CEASELESS DISAPPOINTMENTS
of most who follow after them. The riches of God are those that “moth and rust
doth not corrupt and thieves do not break through and steal” (Matthew 6:20)
God’s “unsearchable riches” make provision for the full satisfaction and infinite
enjoyment of every soul FOR EVER AND EVER! “They shall hunger
no more, neither thirst any more; ... for the Lamb in the midst of the throne shall
feed them;” (Revelation 7:16-17) - “He that hath the Son hath life;” (I John 5:12).
“He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be His God, and he shall be
my son.” - (Revelation 21:7)
The Unsearchable Riches of Christ (v. 8)
“Riches” an attractive word. Human heart leaps towards them. Ceaseless
disappointments of most who follow after them. Here the riches that moth
and rust do not corrupt, nor thieves break through to steal.
1. There are in Christ unsearchable riches of compassion.
by great wickedness, troublesomeness, loathsomeness.
Not so Christ’s!
c. Pity for thief on cross, Saul, Corinthians, and other gross sinners.
2. Unsearchable riches of merit.
(3) Lord Rochester,
(4) John Newton, and such like.
3. Unsearchable riches of sanctifying grace. Great change needed to make
men meet for kingdom of heaven. This includes grace to:
c. strengthen, and
d. to restore from declension.
4. Unsearchable riches of comforting grace. There is no sorrow to which we
are liable for which the gospel has not a comfort; no wound for which there is
no balm. The Third Person, “the Comforter,” is sent by Christ.
5. Unsearchable riches of glorifying grace. Can make provision for the full
satisfaction and infinite enjoyment of every soul forever and ever.
a. “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; ... for the Lamb
in the midst of the throne shall feed them;” (Revelation 7:16-17)
b. “He that hath the Son hath life;” (I John 5:12)
c. “He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be his God,
and he shall be my son.” (Revelation 21:7)
The Unsearchable Riches of Christ (v. 8)
Some riches are unsearchable because they are inaccessible, like jewels
guarded by jealous sentinels, and pearls in sea-caves, and the gold-mines of
Some riches are unsearchable because they are secret, like
treasure hid in a field, and ancient records in undeciphered hieroglyphics; in
this sense an illiterate man finds the wealth of a library, and an unscientific
man the stores of a museum, unsearchable.
No doubt there are wonderful graces in Christ that are as yet above and beyond our
grasp, and deep mysteries that we cannot fathom, and a spiritual worth in all His
blessings that cannot be discovered by the unspiritual. But it is not in these senses
that the riches of Christ are called unsearchable. The doors of His treasure-chamber
are flung wide that the poorest may enter. There is no veil of mystery to prevent
a little child from seeing the beauty within. THE RICHES OF CHRIST ARE
UNSEARCHABFLE simply because they are so abundant and so
various that no man can ever measure the extent, or count the number, or
distinguish all the forms of them. For near upon twenty centuries this
great treasury has been ransacked by friends and foes, by hungering
inquirers and by keen-eyed critics, with the result that, like the infinite
wealth of nature — which is felt to be more immeasurable in our own day,
after the fruitful labors of the most indefatigable naturalists, than ever it
was when not one-tenth of what we now know was discovered — these
riches of Christ amaze and fascinate and overwhelm us with an evergrowing
sense of THEIR MAGNIFICENT UNSEARCHABLENESS!
· THE RICHES OF THE CHARACTER OF CHRIST ARE
ü They have been searched into by uncompromising foes, at first by bitter
Pharisees and scoffing Sadducees, later by clever philosophical
opponents, such as Celsus and Porphyry, down to the times of Voltaire’s
sparkling sarcasm and Strauss’s dry criticism. And the verdict of mankind
is distinctly against the fault-finders, confessing with Pilate, “I find no
fault in Him.” (John 19:4)
ü These riches have also been searched into by adoring disciples, some
with the profundity of
unhesitatingly declare that they never weary of worshipping fresh
wonders in that life of unearthly loveliness. The more our eyes are
opened to discern spiritual worth, and the more the character of Christ
is studied, (I recommend a repeated numerous readings over time of:
Ephesians ch. 2 v. 20 – He Jesus Christ Himself – Spurgeon Sermon –
#155a this website – CY – 2019), the more are we astonished and
delighted by the vision of infinite perfection.
· THE RICHES OF THE TRUTH OF CHRIST ARE UNSEARCHABLE.
Christ is the Truth and the Light of the world. The ideas of Plato may be
measured — the truth of Christ never. Yet two classes of people deny the
unsearchable nature of the riches of this truth.
ü Those who say the world has outgrown Christianity. Perhaps they
mistake the dogmas of the creeds for the truth as it is in Jesus. The
former are necessarily limited, and some of them may have to break
up and give place to larger ideas. But the latter is:
Ø infinite, and
ü Those who are satisfied that they know everything. They are usually the
people who know least. A smooth and rounded scheme of doctrine
comprehends their universe. Because they have shaped it into logical
consistency, they assume that no truth can lie outside it. They have yet to
learn that the Word made flesh, like the Word in nature, IS INFINITE!
· THE RICHES OF THE LOVE OF CHRIST ARE UNSEARCHABLE.
Human love commonly diminishes in intensity in proportion to the extent of
the area over which it is spread; family affection being warmer than our
interest in the wider circle of friends, and this than general philanthropy,
just as the river is deep where it is narrow, but becomes shallow as its banks
open out in width. But the grace of Christ, in depth and breadth like the sea,
has a vast comprehensiveness for all, together with a strong intensity for each.
So that in the last great assembly, when some come from distant isles and some
from hidden valleys, some from populous cities and some from lonesome deserts,
to confess that the grace of Christ has reached them in the fullness of its power,
none will be found so remote as to have been beyond reach, so undeserving as
to have been past mercy, or so needy as not to have been able to find the supply
of every real want in His great riches of love.
· THE RICHES OF THE BLESSINGS GIVEN BY CHRIST ARE
UNSEARCHABLE. There is still an unhappy habit among some of
listening only to the evil report of the spies who tell of the giants, and
turning a deaf ear to the spies who bring the grapes and pomegranates,
(Numbers chps 13-14) No wonder that this habit leads to the painting of
the blessings of Christianity with very dull shades. Rightly understood,
ü offers a pearl of great price,
ü reveals hidden treasures, and
ü strips off the rags and brings forth the best robe and the ring.
From the first grace of forgiveness to the last grace of peace in death,
Christ is breathing benedictions on the Christian’s life, so
that when he reflects, He is astonished at what he has already received, and
yet learns to accept all this as only the earnest of the blessings of light, and
strength, and purity, and peace, that are reserved for his future inheritance.
Less than the Least of All Saints (v. 8)
· HE WHO IS MOST HIGHLY GIFTED WITH DIVINE GRACE
WILL THINK MOST LOWLY OF HIMSELF. Paul, the most gifted
apostle, is most deeply conscious of his own unworthiness. We must
distinguish between the endowment of grace and the acquisition of merit.
To have much grace is only to be much favored. As a man grows in grace
he grows in power of spiritual insight; and the result is twofold — he has
more knowledge of his own true state and a better understanding of the
claims of righteousness. Thus the standard is ever rising above his head in
greater heights of holiness, while he is constantly seeing more clearly, freed
from all hypocrisy and self-deception, the miserable weakness and
sinfulness of his own character.
· HE WHO THINKS MOST LOWLY OF HIMSELF WILL BE MOST
FITTED FOR THE SERVICE OF CHRIST. It is not that unworthiness is
itself a fitness for service. Both to be unworthy and to think one’s self
worthy are to be doubly unfit. But as Socrates thought he might be
accounted wise only because he knew he was ignorant while all other
Athenians were unconscious of their ignorance, the true servant of Christ is
aware of the sinfulness which is common to him and to all others, but
others are not so deeply conscious of it. This humble consciousness of
unworthiness is helpful for service,
ü because it makes us look for THE INDISPENSIBLE GRACE OF GOD!
ü because it saves us from preaching ourselves when WE SHOULD BE
PREACHING CHRIST, and
ü because it compels us to give God all the glory of success.
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:” And to make all men see what is the fellowship (dispensation)
of the mystery. Another branch of his office, and another fruit of God’s grace in
conferring it. He was not only to benefit man, but also to vindicate God. For
“fellowship of the mystery,” the Revised Version has “dispensation of the mystery,”
founded on the preference of the reading οἰκονομια - oy-kon-om-ee’-ah – dispensation;
for which there is a great preponderance of authority over κοινωνία - koy-nohn-ee’-ah –
fellowship. It was the apostle’s function to show how this mystery had been dispensed
concealed for a long time and at last revealed. Which from the beginning of the world
(ages) hath been hid in God. The counsel itself was πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων – pro ton aionon –
before the foundation of the world; the concealment of it ἀπό τῶν αἰώνων – apo ton
aionon - from the beginning of the ages, when there were intelligent beings capable
of understanding it — whether angels or men. Whatever the angels may have known
of the Divine plans, this feature of them was not known till revealed to the New
Who created all things. The reason for adding this particular designation of God
is not obvious; probably it is to indicate the relation of the matter in hand to
the mightiest works of God. This is no trifling matter; it connects itself with GOD’S
GRANDEST OPERATIONS; it has supremely glorious bearings. It might be
supposed to have relations only to one race and to one period of time; but it has
relations to “all things;” it is an integral element in God’s plan. The words,
“by Jesus Christ”, are not found in a great preponderance of textual authorities –
(and not in the Greek New Testament which I have – CY – 2010)
The Apostle’s High Privilege (vs. 8-9)
Very often does he refer, with a sort of grateful humility, to the Divine favor in
attaching him to the service of the gospel.
· MARK THE CONTRAST BETWEEN HIS CALL AND HIS SENSE
OF PERSONAL NOTHINGNESS. “Less than the least of all saints.” The
expression is exceedingly emphatic, being a comparative formed upon a
superlative. He could never forget his share in the death of Stephen, and
his fierce persecutions of the
though forgiven by God, could never be forgiven by himself. But he was
likewise conscious of his own weakness and sinfulness, as we know by the
very forcible phrase, “of sinners I am chief” (I Timothy 1:15), which he uses
as a presently believing man. Such language of self abasement is a mark of a
true saint. The highest saints are usually the most distinguished by their
humility. The term by which he describes himself implies that there are
saints in Christ’s kingdom — little, less, least; not that there is any difference
in their title, but a difference at once in their realization of their own
unworthiness and in the degree of their conformity to Him who was at once
“meek and lowly.” (Matthew 11:29). Now, while the consciousness of his
own unworthiness stood out in marked contrast to the high function to which
he was called in God’s grace, he does not shrink from asserting his authority
as an ambassador of Christ in the strongest terms, but always with the
conviction of one who ascribes all his success, not to his own merits, but to
“the gift of the grace of God.” His call to the apostleship involved his
conversion, and his conversion was “by the effectual working of God’s power.”
· CONSIDER HIS MESSAGE TO THE GENTILES. “The
unsearchable riches of Christ.” We read of riches of grace and riches of
glory, but the plenitude of all Divine blessings is in him.
ü The apostle does not specify what is included in the riches of Christ.
He who was rich for our sakes became poor that “ye through his poverty
might be made rich” (II Corinthians 8:9). We see the source of all the
riches — it is in Himself. But Scripture shows that, while in Him there was
all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, with the real design of His filling us
eventually with all the fullness of God, “the riches of Christ” are scattered
over the whole path of a believer, from its starting-point in conversion till it
is lost in the glories of the eternal inheritance. HE IS:
Ø rich in love,
Ø rich in compassion,
Ø rich in mercy,
Ø rich in grace,
Ø rich in peace,
Ø rich in promise,
Ø rich in reward,
Ø rich in all the blessings of the new and better covenant,
as he must be because He is “made unto us wisdom, righteousness,
sanctification, redemption.” (I Corinthians 1:30)
ü The riches of Christ are “unsearchable.” The word suggests the idea of
the difficulty of tracing footsteps. Who can trace the footsteps of God?
Whatever of power is infinite power; whatever of wisdom is infinite
wisdom; whatever of love is infinite love.
Ø We cannot trace the extent of the “riches of Christ.” We may apply a
double standard of measurement, taking account of the infinite altitude
of the sources whence His salvation has flowed, and of the depths of
sin and misery to which salvation had to descend in order to reach its
objects. Yet we have not searched out the riches of Christ. He put
forth upon our salvation all:
o the invention of His omniscient wisdom,
o applied to it the utmost energies of His omnipotent power, and
o lavished upon it the exceeding riches of his infinite goodness
— neither mercy conflicting with justice, nor love with righteousness,
nor compassion for the sinner with hatred of his sins.
Ø The riches of Christ are unsearchable so far they are undiminished with
use or time. Who can trace the limits of their application? Millions have
drunk of the “water of the wells of salvation?” but these wells are still
unexhausted and inexhaustible. (Who has ever drunk of the water of
life and ever thirsted? Jesus said, “But whosoever drinketh of the
water that I shall give him shall never thirst.” John 4:14 – CY – 2019)
The rivers of the earth may fail; there may be dry wastes where now
there are running streams; but the riches of Christ can never fail,
though thousands of needy souls have drawn from them and twice
ten thousand more will yet come to draw. The fountain of supply
is full as it is free, and free as it is full.
ü Consider his larger message to the whole world of man. “And to make
all men see the dispensation of the mystery, which from the beginning of
the world hath been hid in God.” The apostle’s object was to enlighten the
Jew as well as the Gentile upon the true nature of the dispensation which
displaced so much that was dear to the Jewish heart in order that the true
glory of the Lord might shine forth, not as a mere minister of the
circumcision, but as the uniter of Jew and Gentile, bond and free, male and
female, in his own body. The mystery was hid for ages, but was now made
known by apostles and prophets. We see how revelation was an historical
movement, subject to the usual laws of historical development; for the
redemptive purpose, “hid for ages,” was revealed by a gradual process of
growth, till in Christianity it became a full-grown fact. It was part of the
discipline of man to go through all these stages of imperfect knowledge till
“the perfect day” dawned upon the world. But it was through all the ages
“the mystery of redemption,” going back to the ages that date from
creation — “creation building the platform on which the strange mystery
of redemption was disclosed.”
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.” To the intent –
indicative of the purpose of the remarkable arrangement or dispensation according
to which the eternal Divine purpose, which had been concealed from the beginning
of the ages, was now made known. That now unto the principalities and powers
in the heavenly places - that a lesson might be given to the unfallen angels. Their
interest in the scheme of man’s redemption is referred to (I Peter 1:12). Even the
highest powers of heaven have yet much to learn respecting God. The dispensation
of God’s grace to man is one of their lesson-books. The angels by their great age,
for they are thousands of years old, have advantages that short-lived man does not
possess for comparing the wisdom of God as manifested in widely distant ages.
Angels have from the first moment of their being, lived in the presence of God!
They have been contemporaries of man during all the history of mankind,
for when the earth was framed “the morning stars sang together, and all the
sons of God shouted for joy.” (Job 38:7) – (Dr. Chalmers shows (‘Astronomical
Discourses’) how this meets the objection that so dread a sacrifice as the life of
God’s Son could not have been made for one poor planet; in its indirect bearings
we do not know what other orders of beings have derived most vital lessons from
this manifestation of the attributes of God. (“For without controversy great is the
mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen
of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into
glory.” I Timothy 3:16 - I recommend Spurgeon Sermon this website - #547a –
CY – 2019) However men may scorn the salvation of Christ and all that belongs to it,
the highest intelligences regard it with PROFOUND INTEREST! Might be known
by the Church the manifold wisdom of God. Through the Church, now constituted,
according to the revealed mystery, of Jew and Gentile, all redeemed by Christ’s
blood and renewed by His Spirit, there is exhibited to the angels the manifold
wisdom of God. The precise line of thought is this: God from eternity, had a
purpose to put Jew and Gentile on precisely the same footing, but concealed
it for many ages, until He revealed it in the apostolic age, when He appointed
Paul His minister to announce it. The purpose of this whole arrangement was to
enlighten the principalities and powers of heaven in the manifold wisdom of God.
How in His manifold wisdom? In this way. During these preparatory ages, when God’s
gracious dealings were with the Jews only, all kinds of false religions were developing
among the heathen, and their diversified influence and effects were becoming apparent
in many ways — the divergent tendencies of men, especially in religious matters, were
being developed; but in the new turn given to things by the breaking down of the
middle wall in Christ, the manifold wisdom of God was shown in transforming many
of these most diverse elements, unifying them, building them up into a great spiritual
body, into a holy, most beautiful, most symmetrical temple. When all things seem
to be flying asunder into the most diverse and antagonistic elements, God gives a
new turn, as it were, to providence, and lo! A GLORIOUS SYMMETRICAL AND
HARMONIOUS STRUCTURE BEGINS TO ARISE.
God is called “the Lord of hosts,” as marshalling the innumerable army of angels?
They have a manifoldness far beyond our conception, and yet He can dispose of them
as easily as an officer can do with a small section of an army. He calls them, as He
calls the stars, by their names; (Isaiah 40:26) - not one is overlooked, not one out
of place. The manifold wisdom of God is also to be seen in the way in which the
billions of men on the earth are DEALT WITH IN ONE MOMENT! The problem
here has been complicated by the entrance of sin.
· Manifold are the phases of sin, and
· manifold are the methods by which God seeks to dislodge men out of their sin.
But this manifold problem of the world of mankind is mastered by Him more
easily than the problem of a single household is mastered by us. But it is in the
Church that there is to be seen conspicuously the manifold wisdom of God. (May we
“open our eyes and behold” – CY – 2010) As Christ is called the Wisdom of God,
(I Corinthians 1:24) so we may expect to see in His Church a wisdom manifold as
Himself! What an element in the scheme of redemption, that the Redeemer was a
Divine Being in human nature!
· How justice and mercy are reconciled in His cross!
· How sin is forgiven while God at the same time manifests His detestation of it!
(I recommend The Wrath of God by Arthur Pink – # 3 - this web site – CY – 2010)
· How manifold are the ways by which men are brought into the Church!
What the final adjustment of things is to be is very much a mystery to us, as it is
doubtless to the angels. But we stand in this position that, in what has been
exhibited to us already of the manifold wisdom of God, we can look hopefully
forward to the final reconciliation.
What wisdom was requisite for the creation of the world and the ordering of all things,
from the movements of a star down to the life of a cell! (I highly recommend
“Fantastic Trip” on the internet – just type in those words in your browser –
it will give you great exposure of the wisdom of God in creating the worlds and
the things that are in it – whether through the telescope or the microscope – CY –
2010) What wisdom is involved in the government of the world, maintaining life
and gladness, developing the latent resources of the universe, making all things
work together for good, ruling great kingdoms and individual lives in justice
and mercy! But a higher wisdom is required for REDEMPTION! It is more
to regenerate than to create, to regain
Not only are the POWER and GOODNESS of God needed for this work, but
also HIS WISDOM! Preaching may be foolish, but the gospel preached is the
WISDOM OF GOD! The HIGHES INTELLECTUALITY has been exercised
in working out THE WORLD’S REDEMPTION!
We are called to minister instruction to other worlds. The service is mutual; angels are
ministering spirits to men, (Hebrews 1:14) men are instructive witnesses of redemptive
wisdom to angels. Thus the lowest can help the highest. An angel can learn lessons from
a man, as a man can find instruction in an insect. (Proverbs 6:6) - Our lives, then, are
linked to other worlds. What happens to us has bearings elsewhere. This thought may
help us to face some mystery of life. As in the case of Job, what is humanly
unintelligible may be explained when it is seen that the beings of another sphere
are being instructed through our experience. If the highest intelligences
“desire to look into” these things, and see the manifold wisdom of God in them,
(I Peter 1:12) surely we men should treat the works of redemption with profound
reverence, and regard the study of them as worthy of our HIGHEST THOUGHT!
The Manifold Wisdom of God (v. 10)
· THE MANIFOLD WISDOM OF GOD IS PUT FORTH IN THE
REDEMPTION OF THE WORLD. God is the great Thinker. All our
philosophy is the attempt of man to spell out some of the ideas of God.
ü What wisdom was requisite for the creation of the world and the
ordering of all things, from the movements of a star down to the
life of a cell!
ü What wisdom is involved in the government of the world, maintaining
life and gladness, developing the latent resources of the universe,
making all things work together for good, ruling great kingdoms
and individual lives in justice and mercy! BUT A HIGHER WISDOM
IS REQUIRED FOR REDEMPTION! It is more difficult to regenerate
than to create, to regain
ü Not only are the power and goodness of God needed for this work,
BUT ALSO HIS WIISDOM! Preaching may be foolish, but the gospel
preached is the wisdom of God. The highest intellectuality has been
exercised in working out THE WORLD’S REDEMPTION. (Compare
God’s work, planning, and results with the work of the Congress of
Senate! What a joke! What a mismatch in comparison, yet vain man
is as wild as an ass’s colt and takes no heed or warning! CY – 2019)
ü Paul sees this especially in the breadth of the results — in the
inclusion of Gentile with Jew. High wisdom is broad, and liberal charity
requires much intelligence. Comprehensiveness should not be a matter of
vague sentiment. To be effective it must be fortified by ripe wisdom.
ü This wisdom is manifold. God has many interests to consider, many
conflicting forces to deal with, and many issues to provide for. Therefore
Ø different men may have different views, and yet all be in the right.
Ø Many purposes may be aimed at in redemption beyond what we
can see, and thus many processes which to us look meaningless
find their end. The water is not taken over the mill-wheel simply
that it may find its nearest course to the river; nor is the Christian
led over a broken path because that is the nearest way to heaven.
· THE MANIFOLD WISDOM OF GOD IS MADE KNOWN THROUGH
THE CHURCH TO THE HIGHEST INTELLIGENCES. The
Church is the manifestation of a wisdom that was hidden before
Christianity appeared. Truth is explained by illustration, and the Church is a
concrete illustration of Divine wisdom. It is not in the thinking and
teaching of Divine wisdom by Christians, but in their very existence as
such, that the wisdom of God is revealed. To be a redeemed soul is to be a
proof of that wisdom, just as for one who had been incurably sick to be a
healthy man was to be a living proof of the healing power of Christ. This
revelation was made to other worlds and higher intelligences.
ü God cares for other worlds than our own; elsewhere processes of
education are being carried on with creatures in whom God takes
ü We are called to minister instruction to other worlds. The service is
mutual; angels are ministering spirits to men, men are instructive
witnesses of redemptive wisdom to angels. Thus the lowest can help
the highest. An angel can learn lessons from a man, as a man can find
instruction in an insect. Our lives, then, are linked to other worlds.
What happens to us has bearings elsewhere. This thought may help us
to face some mystery of life. As in the case of Job, what is humanly
unintelligible may be explained when it is seen that the beings of
another sphere are being instructed through our experience.
ü If the highest intelligences “desire to look into” these things, and
see the manifold wisdom of God in them, surely we men should
treat the works of redemption with profound reverence, and
regard the study of them as worthy of our highest thought.
11 “According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:”
The apostle is ever anxious that we should connect these operations, of God with the
profundity, deliberation, and awfulness of an eternal decree, and that we should thus
contrast them in our minds with many even of the most important works of man
which are often determined, on his part, by a passing event or other trivial cause.
The verb in this clause is ἐποίησεν – epoiaesen - which He made; He makes, and
it has been debated whether it denotes the original formation of the purpose, or the
execution of it under Christ. We prefer the former. The object of the apostle is to
indicate that the purpose existed from eternity; but, besides, the meaning of
closing formula, “in Christ Jesus,” is perfectly applicable to the eternal formation of
the purpose; it is the constantly returning indication of the element in which the
whole scheme of grace had:
· its beginning,
· its progress, and
· its end.
The Church the Means of Angelic Enlightenment (vs. 10-11)
The Divine purpose in the dispensation already described was to make
known to the angels the manifold wisdom of God.
· THE ANGELS RECEIVE INSTRUCTION THROUGH THE CHURCH.
ü That the angels are not omniscient, for they have something still to learn.
ü That the angels are in communication with the Church on earth as well
as in heaven. They rejoice over the conversion of sinners; they minister to
those who shall be heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:14); they stand in
immediate relation to the individual man (Matthew 18:10; Luke
15:10; 16:22). The apostles regard themselves as “spectacles to angels”
as well as men, in the insults heaped upon them by an ungrateful world
(I Corinthians 4:9). The Apostle Peter was liberated from prison by an
angel. Angels are present in the assembly of the saints (ibid. ch. 11:10).
They are associated with the redeemed in heaven (Hebrews 12:22), so
as to derive much information concerning the
ü The angels desire increased knowledge of the ways of God with man.
This might be inferred from the fact that they come specially into the
foreground at great turning-points in the
history of the
such as the founding of the old and new covenants, and the humiliation
and exaltation of Christ. But they are expressly represented as desiring
“to look into” the great realities of redemption (I Peter 1:12), and here
they are instructed in the manifold wisdom of God by means of the
· THE INSTRUCTION CONVEYED BY THE CHURCH IS THE
GREATLY DIVERSIFIED WISDOM OF GOD. It is a curious fact that
the interest of the angels is not in the power or the goodness of God, but in
His wisdom, as if to imply that the work of redemption REPRESENTS
THE HIGHEST ORDER OF INTELLIGENCE! It is also a high honor
to man that he should first receive the knowledge which the angels are to
receive through man. But the angels, by their great age — for they may be
thousands of years old — have advantages that short-lived man does not
possess for comparing the wisdom of God as manifest in widely distant ages.
But the wisdom here referred to centers in the Church — the spiritual body
constituted in Christ, and its variety is manifest in:
ü the original plan of salvation,
ü the selection of a Redeemer,
ü the incarnation,
ü the atonement,
ü the application of salvation to Gentile and Jew,
ü the spread of the Greek language,
ü the triumph of the Roman law, and
ü in all the dispensations by which the Church has been led
onward to her final destiny.
Thus our earth, though a mere speck in space, becomes, in the
eyes of angels, the brightest of stars; for it is the platform of that Church
which mirrors forth “the manifold wisdom of God.” (Check out
Fantastic Trip- the power of Ten on You Tube or your browser
– CY – 2019)
· IT IS THE CHURCH WHICH IS THE MEDIUM OF ANGELIC
INSTRUCTION. Not specifically the preaching of apostles, nor human
preaching, but the Church as the exhibition in its long and checkered
history of the wisdom of God.
· THIS EXHIBITION OF THE MANIFOLD .WISDOM WAS
INVOLVED IN THE ORIGINAL PLAN OF SALVATION. “According
to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The
scheme was fixed in the counsel of peace; it was executed in all its parts in
and through Jesus Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and
knowledge; and it found historical realization in the progress and kingdom
of God, apart from all dispensational limitations.
12 “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him.”
In whom we have boldness and access. Παῥῤησία - par-rhay-see’-ah; - literally
means “boldness” or “freedom of speech,” but is used here in a more ample
sense for want of restraint, ease of feeling, comfortable self-possession, in our access
to God. Contrast with Adam hiding himself among the trees of the garden, and the lost
calling on the mountains to fall on them, and the rocks to cover them. (Genesis 3:8;
Revelation 6:12-17) The “we” in this verse includes both Jews and Gentiles.
The “access,” or introduction (see ch. 2:18), is like that of the high priest into
the holy of holies — we have boldness to enter into the holiest of all (Hebrews 10:19).
With confidence by the faith of Him. The confidence of being welcomed and accepted
when we go into God’s presence springs from our faith in Him. We believe in Him:
· as the Propitiation,
· as our Peace,
· as the Reconciler, and
we go before God with confidence. The clause, “through faith in Him,” influences
the whole verse. And, as before, we have at the beginning of the verse,
“in whom” — an expression denoting generally our union with Christ, and at the end,
“through the faith of Him” — a specification of the instrument by which that union is
formed and by which it operates.
The New Spirit of Approach to God (v. 12)
As the effect of the work of redemption, we stand in a new relation to
God, which entitles us to a continuous access to Him, free, unrestricted,
· WE HAVE BOLDNESS AND ACCESS TO GOD. There is an open,
intrepid speaking which springs from a mind confident in itself and strong
in the justice of the cause it espouses; but the freedom of speech here
referred to is based upon a true appreciation of our relation to Christ and
the security enjoyed by the believer in the midst of all his tremors and
dubieties. Our God is indeed a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:19), yet the
believer can approach Him without servile fear, simply because Christ
is the way of access, and the heart has been sprinkled from an evil
conscience through His blood. (ibid. ch. 10:22)
· IT IS IN CHRIST WE HAVE THIS CHANGED DISPOSITION IN
PRAYER. He died that we might have “boldness to enter into the holiest.”
We see in His atonement, not a means of deliverance out of the hands of
God, but the strongest of all reasons for casting ourselves into the hands of
God as the very best Friend we have in all the universe. Our security from
the wrath of God is in the bosom of God. It is Jesus who gives us audience
with God, dispelling at the same time from the mind of the worshipper
those suggestions which would restrict or narrow the riches of God’s love.
· IT IS BY FAITH IN CHRIST WE REACH THIS NEW TEMPER
OF BOLDNESS. It is by the faith of which Christ is both the Object and
the Author, discovering to us:
ü the dignity of His person,
ü the efficacy of His work,
ü the security of His love,
that we are enabled joyfully to approach God. It is thus we have confidence
in our approaches to God. Christ’s sacrifice, as it has given infinite satisfaction
to God, is fitted to inspire the soul of the believer with perfect confidence.
He sees that nothing more is needed to, ensure his everlasting acceptance,
and is thus led to tread with boldness the entrance into the sanctuary of
God’s presence. He has peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
He has confidence in regard to his interest in God’s love, in regard to the
power and faithfulness of God to fulfill His promises, and in regard to the
continuousness of the supply of grace necessary to his final salvation.
(What God promises, He is able to perform. “Faithful is He that calleth
you who also will do it.” Romans 4:21; I Thessalonians 5:24 – CY – 2019)
· THE EFFECTS OF THIS BOLDNESS AND ACCESS TO GOD
ARE TO MAKE US SUPERIOR TO ALL THE AFFLICTIONS OF
LIFE. The apostle beseeches the Ephesians, on this ground, not to lose
heart on account of the afflictions that had come to himself on their
account. The cynical philosopher represents most as easily reconciled to
the misfortunes of their friends, but Christianity not only enjoins but
sustains a nobler temper. So close was the relationship that existed
between the apostle and the saints at
upon them like almost the reality of a personal experience. They were not
to be discouraged by his tribulations, which were, after all, the price paid
for his uncompromising assertion of their rights as Gentiles.
Christian Boldness (v. 12)
· BOLDNESS IS A CHRISTIAN GRACE. The gospel destroys the
gloomy old religions of terror. It dispels even the natural fear of guilty
souls in the presence of the holy God. It brings liberty and courage. It is
essentially the manly faith of the world’s adult age.
· THIS BOLDNESS IS MANIFEST IN OUR CONFIDENT ACCESS
TO GOD. The Christian is not to approach God under the circumstances
which made the courageous entrance of Queen Esther into the presence of
King Ahasuerus so nobly patriotic. We see God as our Father WAITING
TO BE GRACIOUS! It is unworthy to fear. Our prayer should not be the
cry of the captive for mercy, but the glad request of the child. Note:
ü Christian boldness is wasted unless we use it in coming nearer to God.
ü This boldness is no excuse for irreverence.
· CHRISTIAN BOLDNESS IS EXPLAINED BY OUR RELATION
ü Christ dispels our ignorant terrors by revealing the fatherhood of God.
We have but to acquaint ourselves with Him to he at peace (“Acquaint
now thyself with Him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come to
thee.” Job 22:21).
ü Christ gives to us the perfect love that casts out fear. (I John 4:18)
ü Christ reconciles us with God, and so removes all ground of reasonable
alarm. For while we are unreconciled and unforgiven, courage is madness,
and the wildest terror the reasonable condition of those whose conscience
is roused and who realize their frightful peril. But THROUGH CHRIST
we are forgiven and RECONCILED TO GOD! It is ungrateful, after
being thus blessed, to cherish the old fears.
· CHRISTIAN BOLDNESS IS ENJOYED THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST.
ü Faith is necessary in order to bring us into those relations with Christ
which make our boldness right and justifiable. Without faith we are not
redeemed, and while unredeemed we have no ground for being bold in
ü Faith is necessary in order to enable us to realize our FREE and SAFE
condition through Christ. Until we trust Christ we shall not dare to
approach God with a confidence that is grounded on our relations with
Christ. Thus spiritual cowardice is A MARK OF UNBELIEF! He
who trusts most strongly will enjoy most freedom of access to God.
13 “Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is
your glory.” Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you.
A very delicate and touching request, that they would not be too much distressed
by what he was suffering for them (compare Epaphroditus, Philippians 2:26). Paul
knew that the sympathy was so strong that what was suffered by him was endured
sympathetically by them. Two expressions denote that the sufferings were great:
“My tribulations for you” — a word expressing intense and protracted suffering;
“that ye faint not,” or that ye do not lose heart, as if the power of evil had got the
upper hand. Which is your glory. That is, the character or capacity of the apostle
of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, in which I suffer tribulation, is one of such exalted
dignity as to reflect glory on you. Take that view of my sufferings; I suffer because
I hold so glorious an office, and the glory of that office is reflected on you.
God’s Purpose as to the Gentiles (vs. 1-13)
This passage a parenthesis after v. 1 — a reference to Paul’s personal history. It contains
the explanation of his whole career, the secret of his wonderful zeal. Why was he a
prisoner? Generally, for the Gentiles. Why for them? Because the Divine purpose
regarding them had been revealed to him, and through him to the world, and the
enmity of the Jews to that purpose had brought Paul into captivity. Looking at the
passage as a whole, it may show us how Paul found compensation for his captivity
in the privileges connected with his office as apostle of the Gentiles. This compensation
lay chiefly in three things:
· The precious insight he obtained into the glory of the Divine purpose in
reference to the Gentiles, giving him a high conception of the far-reaching
generosity of God.
ü There is a high intellectual pleasure in the discovery of any great truth.
ü There is a profound emotional pleasure in discovering a truth of vast
benefit to mankind.
ü A still higher pleasure in receiving such a truth direct from God. This
truth did not involve a case of leveling down, but of leveling up.
Though the Jews, as a nation, were no longer to occupy a higher
platform than the Gentiles, yet all were to be invited to equal nearness
to God, and if any should reject the invitation, the blame and the loss
would be all their own.
· The remarkably high qualifications given to him for his office (see v. 7) —
great love, faith, courage, perseverance, hope; great intellectual insight; great
spiritual power. Others got frightened (Mark, Demas, etc.); Paul went on. The
human spirit was often depressed, but God comforted him. The thorn in the side
was annoying, but “my grace is sufficient for thee.” (II Corinthians 12:9)
· The great honor and privilege of being called to so blessed a work.
The work had a glory on earth and a glory in heaven.
ü On earth. He preached to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.
Paul proclaimed God’s riches of grace, and showed them to be
unsearchable. He not only proclaimed them, but in a sense imparted
them — brought them into contact with the Ephesians, so that they
got the good of them, through the blessing of the Holy Spirit.
ü In Heaven. The gospel has aspects of blessing beyond this world. It
carries important lessons to the principalities and powers. It shows the
manifold wisdom of God, shows how all classes and varieties of
mankind are brought to God by the cross of Christ:
Ø assimilating all characters,
Ø overcoming all alienations,
Ø demolishing all walls of separation, and
Ø building up all together in Christ Jesus.
· One Great Conclusion. In every sense the success of the gospel is very
glorifying to God:
ü it illustrates His perfections;
ü it glorifies His Son;
ü it educates the very angels;
and thus it carries forward the grand purpose of God in the creation of the
worlds. “To Him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36)
The Death of the Tribal Spirit (vs. 1-13)
The apostle, having stated the unity between Jews and Gentiles in the one
spiritual temple, proceeds in this parenthesis to state the aspect of the
gospel which is thus presented. It amounts, in fact, to the death of the tribal
feeling, and to the encouragement of that broad cosmopolitanism which
has been fostered by the Christian system. Paul, of course, rejoiced in his
Jewish origin and in all the privileges which he had thus inherited. But since
his conversion unto Christ, the narrowness had disappeared, and he took
his stand before the world as the apostle and apologist of the Gentiles,
hoping for the same elevation of character for them as for himself.
· LET US NOTICE HOW PAUL WAS PREPARED FOR THIS
CHAMPIONSHIP OF THE GENTILES. (v. 8.) He had come to
entertain a deep humility of spirit. He deemed himself “less than the least of
all saints.” In Paul’s experience it has been observed there is a progress.
ü First he speaks of himself as “the least of the apostles, that am not
meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the
(I Corinthians 15:9).
ü Secondly, as in this passage before us, he regards himself hardly
worthy of the name of an apostle, but as less than the least of all
saints. Having ranked all apostles above himself in the first instance,
he now ranks all the saints above him.
ü Then, thirdly, he puts himself below all other sinners, and declares,
“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I
am chief” (I Timothy 1:15).
Now, this expresses a complete revolution in Pharisaic thought. Unquestionably
Paul had learned to judge himself severely when he comes to conclusions such
as these. Now, Christianity secures this apparent moral paradox of esteeming
each the other better than himself (Philippians 2:3). “By humility,” as A.
Monod has said in his ‘Explication,’ “the Christian is led to judge himself
severely, while charity comes to his aid in making him judge favorably of
another. Each one, besides, reading in his own heart and not that of others,
perceives only in himself that depth of sin which is the worst aspect of it,
although least visible, and he can always hope that with others, whatever
the appearances may be, this depth, hidden from his eyes, is better than
with him.” This personal humiliation, then, is the preparation Paul receives
for his great role as elevator of the Gentiles. It is when personally abased
that we are exalted in heart and hope, and become the willing servants of
· PAUL’S ESTIMATE OF HIS OFFICE. (v. 8.) It was a “grace”
given to him to be allowed by God to preach among the Gentiles the
unsearchable riches of Christ. His notion was that it was the crown and
summit of human privilege to be thus placed in charge of such a
commission. He magnified his office. He saw nothing to be compared with
it in the privileges of men. He would have endorsed the words of a great
modern preacher when he declared to students for the ministerial office,
“There is no career that can compare with it for a moment in the rich and
satisfying relations into which it brings a man with his fellow-men, in the
deep and interesting insight which it gives him into human nature, and in
the chance of the best culture for his own character.... Let us rejoice with
one another that in a world where there are a great many good and happy
things for men to do, God has given us the best and happiest, and made us
preachers of His truth.”
· THE MORAL ELEVATION WHICH THE GOSPEL PROPOSES
TO BESTOW UPON THE GENTILES. (v. 6.) Up to out Lord’s time
the tribal idea prevailed. The Jews were a tribe, and their policy was, as
their policy would still be, the supremacy of the tribe. But Christ proposed
not to carry the Jewish tribe up to proud supremacy, but, on the contrary,
to bring all other tribes up to their level of privilege, AND TO WELD
ALL THE EARTH’S PEOPLES INTO ONE! IT WAS HE who first
touched the key of cosmopolitan comprehensiveness and bade the narrow
tribal spirit to cease. He talked of many coining from east and west to sit
down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 8:11).
He talked of drawing “all men” unto Himself once He was lifted on the cross
(John 12:32). He spoke of
worship, and of true worshippers worshipping the Father anywhere
(John 4:21-24). All nations were to be discipled by His servants
(Matthew 28:20). Into these broad and noble views for mankind the
eleven did not very rapidly or fully enter. Doubtless Peter had inaugurated
the Gentile Pentecost in the house of Cornelius; but he relapsed into
narrowness a few years later at
Paul, the most powerful mind of the apostolic band, to catch the
cosmopolitan spirit of his Master, and to champion the Gentile against all
the prejudice of the Jewish world. It has been suggested that he would not
have chosen the appointment had it been left to himself. But, as far as we
can judge, he showed no narrowness once he had humbled himself at
feet on the way to
a tribe, and became, in the widest and worthiest sense, a citizen of the
world and a champion of the rights of universal man. There is surely
something grand in this idea of lifting outcast communities into the highest
and holiest associations. There is no casting of contempt on any tribe, but
extending pity and. compassion unto all. The golden gate of privilege is
opened wide for every one. The missionary enterprise is the best and
noblest policy which men have set themselves in earnest to carry through!
· THE LESSON THUS AFFORDED TO THE HEAVENLY WORLD.
(vs. 10-12.) The idea of Paul is that the angels on high look down with
rapt interest and profit upon what is taking place in the Church. The
movements of men outside the Church have, of course, their interest; but it
is the bringing of the different peoples of the earth into the glorious unity
The Divine society which is gathering round Jesus is the most instructive
exhibition of God’s purposes which the heavenly world can contemplate.
As Jonathan Edwards put it in his sermon upon v. 10, the angels are
benefited by the salvation of men,
ü by seeing therein a great and wonderful manifestation of the glory of
ü by Jesus Christ, as God-Man, becoming their Head. We may be sure
that the history of the world looks very differently to the immortals from
what it does in the pages of mortal history. We see the tramp of armies
and of battles upon the graphic page, and an account more or less
intelligent of the different and concurrent causes; but with what fuller
insight and appreciation must the heavenly world look down upon the
vicissitudes of time! Amid the conflicting policies of different states
and nations, the missionary enterprise appears as the one consistent
and uniting policy. The elevation of the world’s peoples:
Ø into one consecrated whole,
Ø into one mighty family,
Ø into one organic whole,
IS SURELY WORTHY OF A GOD! And this is what the
Church exhibits; it was for this Paul suffered, it is for this we in
our respective spheres must struggle too.
Paul’s Apostleship to the Gentiles: An Introduction (vs. 1-13)
The apostle has it in his mind to pray for the Ephesian Christians. There is
a twofold ground upon which he proceeds.
1. What has been said about them. “For this cause.” He has described them
in three ways as incorporated in the Church. His last statement pointed to
their being built in. They were, therefore, objects for intercession, such as
their heathen ancestors had not been.
2. His relation to them. He did not stand at an outside, but in the closest
relation to them, such as brought with it the obligation on his part to pray
prisoner of Christ Jesus. “I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus.” He was not
the only one of whom that could be said, but “Paul the prisoner” was well
known to them. Indeed, it was an Ephesian named Trophimus who
innocently brought him into trouble. He was the prisoner of Caesar; but
who was Caesar but the hand of Christ in the matter? He recognized the
fact that it was by Christ’s will primarily that he was a prisoner. Christ
being above Caesar in power, and therefore able to order it otherwise, it
was to human appearance strange that a worker like Paul should at this
time have been so restricted in his energies. But he who has eyes like unto
a flame of fire saw deeper into it than any other could. One good result
which flowed from his imprisonment was that he was able to give himself
more to composition. See here how there rose before the mind of the
prisoner of Christ a glorious conception of His Church, by which there will
be greatest benefit to the end of time.
“In behalf of you Gentiles.” His unbelieving countrymen (who in their
spiritual pride were for the exclusion of the Gentiles) had been his bitterest
foes, and were, indeed, chargeable (more than the Roman authorities) with
his imprisonment. He was suffering for his liberality in seeking to include
them, as was the will of Christ, within the pale of the Church. He might
well, then, claim to write to them, as well as be expected to offer prayers
on their behalf. But, having mentioned this ground of his praying for them,
he goes aside from his prayer, and does not proceed with the sentence
which he has commenced until the fourteenth verse, giving us a parenthesis
which, for length and weight together, is not surpassed. Transition to the
subject of his apostleship. “If so be that ye have heard.” Gentiles, for
whom he was suffering, could scarcely have been ignorant, whether they
had enjoyed his ministrations or not, of the fact of his being apostle of the
Gentiles. And if the Ephesian Christians had heard more particularly of the
matter of the revelation, as probably they had done, for Paul labored two
years among them, yet it would not be inconsistent with usage to say, “If
so be that ye have heard,” as referring to a well-known fact, and as
referring to it in the way of calling them to self-scrutiny as to the time
when they heard it and the person from whom they heard it.
· HIS APOSTLESHIP WAS OF DIVINE ARRANGEMENT. “Of the
dispensation.” It was not of his own ordering, but was the dispensation of
God. It was arranged that he should be a minister to preach unto the
Gentiles (vs. 7-8). This is in accordance with his manner of viewing
things in the first chapter. He who has the administration of the eons has
also the appointment of all who serve in His house, whether ordinary or
· FOR HIS APOSTLESHIP HE WAS FAVORED WITH THE
KNOWLEDGE OF A MYSTERY. “Of that grace of God which was given
me to you-ward.” He had no reason to look for such a thing, but with a
view to his acting as their apostle he was so favored.
ü It was a mystery which was communicated to him by revelation. “How
that by revelation was made known unto me the mystery.” He did not
receive it secondhand, nor was it a discovery of his own; but it was
immediately and supernaturally communicated to him. That was
guarantee for the knowledge being certain and thorough. The fact
revealed to him at his conversion, that he was to bear Christ’s Name
before the Gentiles, may only have given rise to perplexities as to the
mode. We can think of the revelation referred to here as coming to him,
not without preparation or reflection on his part, during his retirement
him in his perplexities to know confidently and timeously the principles
on which God was to proceed with the Gentiles.
ü It was a mystery of his knowledge of which he had already given them
evidence. “As I wrote afore in few words.” The reference is evidently to
this same Epistle, especially to the first chapter, in which it is part of the
“mystery” of summing up all things in Christ, that Gentiles are put
on an equality with Jews in being made “heirs” on trusting in Christ.
It was the mystery of Christ, viz. as the great Reconciler. He had written
in brief; but their interest would make up for his brevity, and he claims
that, in what he had said, he had given them the opportunity, when they
should “read,” of perceiving his understanding of the mystery. And
thus, through his communication to them of what he had got immediately
from God, they would have the satisfaction of seeing for themselves
what the truth was.
ü It was a time when others were favored with revelation of the
mystery as well as he. “Which in other generations was not made
known unto the sons of men, as it hath now been revealed unto His
holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit.” “Sons of men” has a certain
association of incapacity. Being only sons of men, they could not be
expected to know the mystery of themselves. And the former generations
of them had stood at a disadvantage. They had not been absolutely
excluded from the benefit of revelation. But still, in all that they had
been favored with, in promises connected with the admission of the
Gentiles, it had remained very much of a mystery, until the then
Christian period. And the Apostle Paul, with an evident enthusiasm,
thinks of himself as in the company of apostles and prophets, upon
whom in that ago the inflatus of the Spirit had come, and who were
privileged to make communications of blessed import to the Gentiles.
ü What the contents of the mystery were. “To wit, that the Gentiles are
fellow-heirs, and fallow-members of the body, and fellow-partakers of
the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” There is a catching up
of a previous thread here, for which we were prepared by his reference to
what he had written before. “They were made a heritage.” They had the
“earnest” of an “inheritance.” They were “God’s own possession.”
There was something new (or matter for revelation) in their thus being
fellowheirs. For this was something beyond the extension of grace to
them. It indicated
their relation to ancient
among them) were
not the only successors of
believers were served heirs as well. They were in the true theocratic line.
The prestige of that people, the great things the Lord had done for them,
were theirs. And theirs, too, were even the lessons of their apostasies.
Theirs were their Scriptures. “Fellow-members of the body” is also
a catching up of a previous thread. For he has before written of the
“one body” (ch. 2:16). This had not been clear to the former generations.
They had not contemplated such a close commingling of Gentile and
Jewish elements. Was there to be no partition wall whatever? Was their
identity as Jews completely to be lost? Yes, that was the form that mercy
to the Gentiles was to
take. And there were they in the
some of them Jews and some of them Gentiles, but all members of the
body of Christ. “And fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus
through the gospel.” “Fellow-partakers of the promise” is properly the
parallel phrase. But there is a reason for connecting the remaining words
specially, if not exclusively, with this. For the promise (that is, to former
generations) refers to the same blessings offered (since the coming of
Christ) in the gospel. There is thus a catching up of a previous thread
from the second chapter, where it is said that Christ came and preached
the gospel (of peace) to Gentiles as well as to Jews (ibid. v. 17). And
there was much for apostles and prophets to reveal of the mystery here.
For it was by so completely “filling up” the types, and presenting the
real all-sufficient sacrifice for sin, that all former restrictions could
be done away. Men no longer needed to be circumcised or to go up to
simply as believing on Christ.
· HIS BEING A MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL TO THE GENTILES
FILLED HIM WITH A SENSE OF HIS OWN UNWORTHINESS.
“Whereof I was made a minister according to the gift of that grace of God
which was given me according to the working of His power. Unto me, who
am less than the least of all saints, was this grace given, to preach unto the
Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Paul takes the lowly title of
“minister” (literally, “one who runs at the call of another,” but used generally
of a servant). He was a servant in a particular order. Grace was given him to
preach unto the Gentiles. That was where he found his work, where he was
appointed to follow the Master. And the gift of this grace (thus defined) was
given him in a particular way — “according to the working of His power.”
“The mention of the power of God is founded on the circumstance that Paul
sees in his change of heart, from a foe to a friend of Christ, an act of
omnipotence.” It is an exercise of power that calls for our adoration. Grander
than the flash of the lightning, the roll of the thunder, was the power which
turned Saul into Paul, the persecutor into the preacher. It is power which
has been exercised after the same example, notably in the case of John Bunyan.
It is power to which the Church can constantly look for the raising up of men to
do His work. It is power to which the greatest sinners may be pointed for
their conversion to God. In magnifying the Divine power, Paul humbles
himself. But not thus does his feeling of humility (which none need to
cultivate more than ministers) find adequate expression. But in view of the
greatness of his calling he humbles himself still further. “Unto me, who am
less than the least of all saints.” There is employed, to express his
meaning, what is both a comparative and a superlative. There was no
exaggeration in this to the apostle who, though he could warmly vindicate
his apostolic position when there was occasion, yet had a feeling of his
own nothingness (II Corinthians 12:11). It belongs to a shallower
Christian experience than his was, to make such comparisons. To one who
has felt his own utter vileness before God, to think of instituting a
comparison in personal worth, in spiritual standing between himself and his
fellow-Christians, is utterly abhorrent to him. He repudiates the thought; he
is less than the least of all saints. There can be no doubt that those who
have (without feigning) the deepest feeling of humility are really the best
saints and the best champions of the faith. It is not the case that a career of
wandering such as the apostle had (in his case it was wandering in self-
righteousness for thirty years) is necessary to the deepest feeling of
humility. For we have all enough of evil in our hearts to lead to
humiliation. But it may be said that those who have had such wanderings
and subsequent struggles are the most likely (in respect of their
opportunity) to excel in a knowledge of the corruption of their hearts. The
apostle supplies us with a rich expression here, “all saints.” Who are they
that form this order? Certainly none of mankind who have not the blood of
Christ sprinkled upon them. Certainly more than those who have been
specially “sainted” of men. They include many “hidden ones” on earth.
“But sure from many a hidden dell,
From many a rural nook unthought of, there
Rises for that proud world the saints’ prevailing prayer.”
They include the “elder saints” in heaven, both angels and men. They have
all their circle of influence in the universe of God. We are to look unto
“Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2); but we are
also to get strengthening, incitement, universally, from “the communion
· THE SUBJECT OF HIS PREACHING TO THE GENTILES WAS
THE UNSEARCHABLE RICHES OF CHRIST. The blessings of the gospel
are compared by our Lord to gold: “I counsel thee to buy of me gold.”
(Revelation 3:18) And, in agreement with that, is this description of those
blessings as “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” There are none higher (as
there is nothing higher in metals than gold), and, if we count them as men
count gold, they are inestimably precious. What are the blessings of the gospel?
There is first of all:
ü peace, not the peace of unfallen beings, but the peace of
those who have been sinners and are now reconciled — the sweet
sense of sin forgiven, the blessed feeling that the guilt which was
resting on us is removed, and that there is now nothing between us
and a holy God. And who can tell the preciousness of this blessing?
The man who has this peace can feel richer than Croesus. It is a peace
which makes us INDEPENDENT OF THE WORLD - which the world
cannot give and which the world cannot take away. It is a peace which
passeth all understanding (Philippians 4:7), which has a mysterious,
unspeakable sweetness about it, so that he who has once felt
what it is would never like to lose it.
ü Another blessing is spiritual understanding. The man who knows is
on a different footing from the man who does not know. Think of
one who has all the light of modern science, compared with the
Chinaman who is only where his ancestors were two or three thousand
years ago. Think of one who has all the light which Christianity has
shed on the highest matters, compared with the fetishist whose dim
object of reverence is some unconscious stone. How dark the
world would have been at this day but for THE DAYSPRING
FROM ON HIGH which hath visited us! But, along with that
outward light which shines widely, there is to all who seek and
embrace it an inward light of the Holy Ghost. Blind Bartimaeuses,
we believe in Christ, and we receive our sight. And what riches it is
to have spiritual insight, to have the veil taken off! GOD and TRUTH
to be under no delusion, to be delivered from every error, and to see
things clearly IN THE LIGHT of God!
ü A third blessing, but a very comprehensive one, is holy feeling.
What a cage of unclean birds does sin make of our hearts! But
the gospel introduces a radical change of feeling. “For the law of
the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the
law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2) And is it not golden to have
fine feeling — feeling in which there is no sinful element, but only
the fine grain of holiness; to have devoutest reverence and tenderest
love towards GOD, and to have due respect and tender love toward
our fellow-men? The man who feels aright all round has his wealth
in his soul, there a perpetual feast. These blessings we may regard
as summed up in Christ. For as Christ is said not only to have the bread
of life, but to be Himself the Bread of life, so we may say He has
not only unsearchable riches to bestow, but HE IS HIMSELF THE
UNSEARCHABLE RICHES! He is the true Gold, He is precious
in every quality of His being as gold, and, in having Him as the
Portion of our souls, we must needs have unsearchable riches.
· AN OBJECT AIMED AT BY THE APOSTLE IN HIS PREACHING
TO THE GENTILES. “And to make all men see what is the dispensation
of the mystery.” He himself understood the mystery, having got it by
revelation. And he had given them the means of perceiving his
understanding of it, and therefore of understanding it for themselves. But
so precious a truth was not to be confined within so narrow an area. He
had a certain unbounded ambition in preaching the gospel. It was to make
all men see the gracious arrangement which had been newly introduced,
and see it so as to be induced to take advantage of it. On another occasion
his language was, “That all the Gentiles might hear.” (II Timothy 4:17)
In both cases it is the language of enthusiasm. It was the burning desire of
his heart, to make all men see, that made him go (not without hardships)
from land to land. He was not free to settle down in any one place. When he
had established a center of gospel light in
The world was a dark place, and he must establish as many centers of light
at suitable points in it as God would enable him to establish during his
· A TWOFOLD ULTERIOR OBJECT SERVED BY THE
PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL TO THE GENTILES.
ü More immediately men having demonstrated to them the Divine
sovereignty. “Which from all ages hath been hid in God who created all
things.” It is because He has created all things that He has the disposal of
all things. There is nothing whatever which He cannot bend to His will. It
was in the exercise of His sovereignty that, at the beginning of the ages,
He did not reveal the whole breadth of His purpose. It lay hid in Himself.
And for ages His ways were dark, in the great majority of men being left
to their own natural ignorance and inability. During these ages He rested
in His own thoughts regarding men, in His own reasons of procedure, in
His own ways of working. But there was mystery. The largeness of His
purpose was sovereignly hid under a cloud until, with the coming of
Christ and the preaching of the gospel to all men, it clearly burst forth.
ü Angels seeing by the Church the manifold wisdom of God. “To the
intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly
places might be made known through the Church the manifold wisdom
of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in
Christ Jesus our Lord.” The Church is the community of which, as is
said in the first chapter, Christ is the Head. The interest in this
community is here represented as extending to the angels. They are here
designated on the side of their power and rank as the principalities and
the powers. In Psalm 103 it is said, “Ye His angels, that excel in
strength.” In what relation rank or dominion is ascribed to them, we
have not the means of knowing, as we have not the survey of the
heavenly world which they, it is here implied, have of the earthly world.
But we are to understand the apostle, in the loftiness of his thought,
seizing upon this as being to the honor of the Church, that it attracts the
attention of the inhabitants of “the heavenly places” — those who have
never known any other habitation, who, from the first moment of their
being, have lived in the presence of God. They have been contemporaries
of man during all his history. For when the earth was framed “the
morning stars sang together, and the sons of God shouted for joy.”
(Job 38:7) We are to think of them as witnessing man’s innocence
and fall, and as being made acquainted with the introduction of
grace in the promise. And the Law (which had a separating side) was by
the “disposition of angels.” (Acts 7:53) And angels very signally
heralded the Savior’s birth. But it was not for our sakes alone that they
were thus connected with our history. It would seem that, though in the
heavenly places, they had but a limited knowledge of redemption. They
had not foreknowledge; they had to wait like us for the development of
events. What was mystery to us (as to the including of the Gentiles)
was mystery to them also, being hidden to both in God. They were at
a loss to understand what the development of things under the gospel
was to be. But they were taught by the events. Now through the Church
was made known the manifold wisdom of God. The Church was not to
be instructress, but rather material for instruction by God in the subject
of His manifold wisdom. There was material to be found elsewhere,
in which the angels delighted to study the manifold wisdom of
God. It was when the worlds were brought forth into space that they
shouted for joy. What a field was that opened up for their contemplation!
“O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them
all.” (Psalm 104:24) The simple idea of a house is that which has walls,
and door, and windows, and roof; but into what manifoldness, what
richness of structure, may that be drawn out by the creative mind of the
architect! An architect’s work is manifold in proportion to the
multiplicity of the parts, and to the variety he can introduce into these;
and his skill is seen in his combining these parts, in all their multiplicity
and variety, into a unity. What multiplicity of parts has God to deal with
in the material structure of things! and what variety He introduces, so
that no leaf is exactly like another! (nor any two snowflakes, nor any
fingerprints of humans, etc. - CY - 2019) and how there are not only
adaptations which can be made a study of by themselves (as a column,
or bit of tracery on it, may be made a study of), but these are
comprehended in wider adaptations, and so all-comprehensive
is the Divine thought that there is in the result no confusion
but the highest simplicity! That is one sphere for the display of
MANIFOLD WISDOM! We may expect greater manifoldness as we
rise higher. What a manifoldness in the life of rational beings!
“And God,” says Leibnitz, “has the qualities of a good Governor as
well as of a great Architect.” It may be supposed that the angels will
first contemplate the manifold wisdom of God in themselves, in their
high and varied endowments, in the way in which their eternal well-
being has been secured to them without their having to pass through
the experience of sin, and in the part assigned to each and to all in the
great plan. Is he not called the Lord of hosts, as marshaling the
innumerable army of angels? They have a manifoldness far
beyond our conception, and yet He can dispose of them as easily as an
officer can do with a small section of an army. He calls them, as He calls
the stars, by their names (Psalm 147:4); not one is overlooked, not one
out of place. (We hear of people that are so neat that "not one hair is out
of place! God knows the number of our hairs on our head." Matthew
10:30; Luke 12:7; CY - 2019) The manifold wisdom of God is also to be
seen in the way in which the billions of men on the earth are dealt with
at one moment. The problem here has been complicated by the
entrance of sin. Manifold are the phases of sin, and manifold are the
methods by which He seeks to dislodge men out of their sin. But this
manifold problem of the world of mankind is mastered by Him more
easily than the problems of a single household is mastered by us. But
it is in the Church that there is to be seen conspicuously the manifold
wisdom of God. And, in the first place, it is to be seen in that general
point regarding the Church which the apostle has been considering, viz.
the including of the Gentiles after they had been so long excluded. It
may seem that the exclusion of any from the privileges of the Church
was a reflection on the Divine wisdom. Was it not sacrificing
their interests that an effort was not made for their salvation along with
that of others? But the problem was far more manifold than that. If there
had been a comprehension of all nations all along, the result would
probably have been the extinction of religion. We are not to think that
Christ could have come, and His gospel be promulgated, at any time.
If the gospel dispensation had been introduced at the time of the
election of Abraham, we may suppose it would have been thrown away.
He with whom a thousand years are as one day had to look to, not the
greatest good of men then, but to the greatest good of men to all time.
And so He ordained a long period of preparation, both negative in
bringing out what men could not do, and positive in the way of teaching
by type and providential dealing. And He did not bring Christ into the
world until He saw how His truth could get a firm hold, and be proclaimed
wide to the nations. And though the gospel has yet much to do, it is in
such a position that it cannot now be lost. But this was only part of a
wider purpose. “According to the eternal purpose which He purposed
in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We have to bring in the whole purpose of
God regarding the Church. This purpose He purposed in eternity.
It was a purpose running through the ages. In Christ He saw the Church
in the completeness of its idea, in the whole of its development. And,
with this clear before His mind, He could patiently wait through the
ages for the fuller unfolding of His purpose. As Christ is called the
Wisdom of God, so we may expect to see in His Church a wisdom
manifold as Himself. What an element in the scheme of redemption,
that the Redeemer was a Divine Being in human nature! How justice
and mercy are reconciled in His cross! How sin is forgiven while God
at the same time manifests Hhis detestation of it! How manifold are the
ways by which men are brought into the Church! What THE FINAL
ADJUSTMENT OF THINGS is to be is very much a mystery to us,
as it is doubtless to the angels. But we stand in this position that, in
what has been exhibited to us already of the manifold wisdom of God,
we can look hopefully forward to THE FINAL RECONCILIATION!
· RETURN TO PRIVILEGE OF CHRISTIAN POSITION. “In whom
we have boldness and access in confidence through our faith in Him.”
Christ was the Object of their faith. Realizing by faith what He was, the
provision made by Him, the great love He bore to them, they had the spirit
of sons. In Galatians 3:26 it is said, “Ye are the children of God by faith
in Christ Jesus.” That is, we have the position of children. Here the thought
is, we have the disposition of children.
ü The spirit of boldness. They had a free, joyous mood, as having an
interest in Christ. They were delivered from the fear of wrath. They were
not of the number of those who, through fear of death, were all their
lifetime subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2:15)
ü In nearness to God (in the God-Man) they had the spirit of confidence.
They had that confidence restored to them which Adam lost. They had
the confidence to which Paul elsewhere gives lofty expression: “For I
am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities,
nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor
depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the
love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
· EXHORTATION LOOKING BACK TO THE FIRST VERSE.
“Wherefore I ask that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which are
your glory.” He supposes that they would be concerned for his tribulations,
as endured for them. How was the cause of Christ to be carried forward,
when so principal an instrument was lying a prisoner in
would have them not to faint, bringing forward the consideration that these
tribulations of his were their glory. If he had proved unfaithful to their
interests, and withdrawn from persecutions, that would have been a
discrediting of him as a discrediting of the Founder of the Church, and they
might in that case have been tempted to despair of Christianity. But, as he
had stood true to them in the face of persecutions, that brought them
honor, and was fitted to have a confirming, elevating effect on them as a
Aspects of the True Gospel Ministry (vs. 1-13)
“For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if ye
have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to
you-ward: how that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery; (as
I wrote afore in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my
knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 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; that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of
the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel:
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. 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; 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: to the
intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might
be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the
eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: in whom we
have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. Wherefore I
desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.”
Homiletically, this whole passage, in which there are many digressions and
involved utterances, may be regarded as exhibiting a true gospel minister
in three aspects:
· THE SUBJECT OF VICARIOUS SUFFERING. Paul speaks of himself
as a “prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,” and in the thirteenth verse
he says, “my tribulations for you.” As an apostle, Paul’s sufferings were
great; elsewhere he gives a brief catalogue of them (II Corinthians 11:21-33);
but all his great sufferings as an apostle were vicarious — they were for the
men he endeavored to help. “All for you Gentiles.” We offer three remarks
concerning his vicarious sufferings, as a true gospel minister.
ü They were intense. What agony of mind is involved in the expression,
“For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren,
my kinsmen according to the flesh”! (Romans 9:3) This means
such an agonizing desire for the salvation of men as would prompt the
most terrible sacrifices to accomplish it. (The great thing about this is that
it was unnecessary since Christ did the suffering for all mankind! CY –
2019) In another place he represents his state of mind as a parturition
Ø “I travail in birth again.” (Galatians 4:19)
Ø Again, “I suffer trouble, as an evil-doer, even unto bonds.”
(II Timothy 2:9)
Ø And again he says, “I endure all things for the elect’s sake,
that they may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus”
(ibid. v. 10).
Every true gospel minister knows something of this intense spiritual
suffering for others. What solicitudes, disappointments, wrestlings of
soul has he! So intense was the desire even of Moses for the good of
others, that he said, “If thou wilt forgive their sins — and if not,
blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written”
ü They were voluntary. Human society is so organized that a certain
amount of vicarious suffering comes on all men, irrespective of their
choice, and even contrary to their choice. The innocent suffer for the
guilty, children suffer on account of the sins of their parents. The present
generation groans under the burdens of the past. But the vicarious
sufferings of Paul, as a minister, were voluntary, he entered into them
freely. The love of Christ “constrained” him to put himself in the place of
suffering men, and to feel with them and for them. (II Corinthians 5:14)
Hence he says, “Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended,
and I burn not?” (ibid. ch.11:29).
ü They were Christ-like. Whilst there are points which mark the vicarious
sufferings of Christ, both in their nature and amount, from the vicarious
sufferings of those of His ministers, yet there are points of agreement which
are worthy of our notice. That such correspondence exists is suggested by
the similarity of Scripture-language by which both are set forth. Both are
represented as endured for sinners and in order to effect their salvation.
Indeed, Paul speaks of his whole life as a sacrifice (Philippians 2:17).
Two points of analogy are especially worthy of remark.
Ø Both partook of intense grief on account of human sins. Christ’s grief
on account of sin was intense, agonizing, and fathomless in amount.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, ......how often would I have gathered
thy children together....and ye would not.” (Matthew 23:37) Paul
participated to some extent in this feeling. “Of whom I tell you even
weeping, they are enemies of the cross of Christ.” (Philippians 3:18)
In truth, the vicarious sufferings of all genuine ministers partake of
this. Even those of the Old Testament felt it. Jeremiah says, “Oh that
my eyes were fountains of waters” (Jeremiah 9:1) and the psalmist,
“I beheld the way of transgressors, and was grieved.” (Psalm 119:158)
Ø Both partook of an intense anxiety for man’s salvation. To restore man
to the knowledge, image, and fellowship of God was the one great
object of Christ. For this He labored, for this he agonized, bled,
and died. This was Paul’s great aim. “For though I be free from all
men, yet have I made myself a servant unto all, that I might gain
the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain
the Jews; to them that are under the Law, as under the Law, that
I might gain them that are under the Law; to them that are without
Law, as without Law (being not without Law to God, but under the
Law to Christ), that I might gain them that are without Law.
To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am
made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some”
(I Corinthians 9:19-22). And in another place he says, “I please all
men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of
many, that they may be saved” (ibid. ch. 10:33). Now, my position
is that this intense, voluntary, Christ-like, vicarious suffering, not
only ever characterizes the history of every genuine minister of Christ,
but is an essential qualification for the office. Paul felt that his great
efficiency in the work depended upon his proximation to Christ in
the amount of His vicarious sufferings. What else did he mean when
he said, “I Paul rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that
which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his
body’s sake, which is the Church” (Colossians 1:24).
· THE RECIPIENT OF DIVINE IDEAS. “By revelation he hath made
known to me the mystery,” etc. The gospel truths which Paul had to
proclaim to the Gentiles were not derived from any human source. They
were not the deductions of his own reason or the intuitions of his own soul,
but they were revealed to him by God. “I never received it of man,” said
he, “neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ”
(Galatians 1:12; see Acts 16.). We have an account of this revelation
given by Paul himself. It is the glory of man that he can receive ideas
from the great God Himself. He has what no other creature under
heaven has — the capacity to take in the thoughts of THE INFINITE!
It is essential to a true minister that he does this. He cannot offer any
spiritual help to humanity unless he does so. His own ideas have no
power to help his race. The ideas to enlighten, elevate, and bless souls
MUST COME FROM GOD! Hence what Paul gave to the Gentiles, he
tells us, came by revelation. Three remarks are suggested by the passage in
relation to the idea.
ü It had been long hidden. He calls it the mystery: “The mystery which in
other ages was not made known.” It was a mystery not in the sense of
incomprehensibility, but in the sense of undiscoveredness. It had been
unrevealed, and therefore unknown to past generations. The whole
gospel was once a mystery; it was in the mind of God as an idea
unrevealed to the universe.
ü It was very grand. The particular idea to which the apostle here refers is
this, that the Gentiles were to partake of the salvation of the gospel, and
to be united in one body with the Jews. “That the Gentiles should be
fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in
Christ by the gospel.” (v. 6) Grand idea this! That the poor Gentiles
Ø “heirs” of the same inheritance as the Jews —
Ø members of the same great spiritual “body” as the Jews —
Ø partakers of the same great “promise” as the Jews.
The idea that Paul had from God was the uniting of all the races in the
world in one great spiritual confederation.
ü It was exceedingly ancient. “From the beginning of the world it hath
been hidden in God.” Such was the idea that Paul tells us had been
revealed to him and to the holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.
Every true gospel minister is the recipient of Divine ideas.
· THE MESSENGER OF REDEMPTIVE MERCY. Paul speaks of
himself here as the “minister” of the things that have been revealed to him.
“Whereof I was made a minister,” etc. What he received he had to
communicate. The passage indicates several things concerning a true
messenger of redemptive mercy.
ü The Divine designation to the office. “I was made a minister, according
to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of
His power.” The office of a true minister is a gift of grace — a gift of
grace, which comes to the soul by the effectual working of God’s power.
Paul felt that he became a messenger of these truths, not by his own ]
seeking or merit, but by the grace of God. Nor by his own native
inclination, but by the effectual working of God’s power, referring,
undoubtedly, to the Divine energy in his conversion. Every man must
experience this Divine energy before he can become a true messenger
of redemptive mercy. God must work in him before He can work by him.
ü The humble spirit of the office. “Unto me, who am less than the least of
all saints, is this grace given.” The expression means, who am
incomparably the least of all the saints, who am not worthy to be
reckoned amongst them. The memory of his past conduct and the solemn
grandeur of the work to which he was called deeply impressed him with
the sense of his own unworthiness. Humility is essential to this great
work; it is when a man feels his weakness that he is truly strong in the
ministry of truth. A deep sense of our own insufficiency is essential to
make us sufficient for this of all offices the most grand and momentous.
He who feels himself the “least of all saints” will become the greatest
of all preachers.
ü The grand subject of the office. What is the great theme of the gospel
preacher? Scientific facts, philosophic speculations, theological theories?
No; “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” The word “unsearchable”
occurs in only one other place in the New Testament (Romans 11:33),
where it is rendered “past finding out.” Past finding out, not so much
in the sense of mystery, as in the sense of inexhaustibleness. It is an
ocean whose depths are unfathomable, and whose breadth and length
stretch into the infinite. These “unsearchable riches” of Christ, unlike
material riches, are:
ü The enlightening character of the office. “To make all men see what is
the fellowship of the mystery.” The idea is to enlighten all in respect to
God’s redemptive mercy, the Gentiles as well as the Jews. The work of
a true gospel minister is to make men see Divine things, to bring them
before their eyes, and to induce them to look earnestly and steadily
ü The angelic bearing of the office. “To the intent that now unto the
principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the
Church the manifold wisdom of God.” Several thoughts are implied
in this passage.
Ø That there are in the universe a gradation of angelic intelligences.
“Principalities and powers in heavenly places.”
Ø That it is of great importance that they should study the manifold
wisdom of God.
Ø That the Christian Church affords them a grand opportunity for
studying this glorious subject. The Church is the effect, the
manifestation, and the organ of God’s manifold or diversified wisdom.
Ø That the use of the Church for this object was according to the eternal
plan of God. “According to the eternal purpose which He purposed
in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
ü The high privileges of the office. “In whom we have boldness and access
with confidence by the faith of Him.” “The accumulation of substantives
in this sentence,” says Hedge, “boldness, access, confidence, shows that
there was no word which could express what Paul felt in view of the
complete reconciliation of men to God through the mediation of
Jesus Christ.” The privileges of a true gospel minister, as indicated
in vs. 12, 13, are:
Ø Free and fearless access to the great God.
Ø Divine support under the various trials of life. “Wherefore I desire
that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory”
Paul was now a
support which enabled him to exhort the saints
be disheartened on his account. Such in brief is the view which this passage
presents of a true gospel minister. He is:
Ø a man of vicarious suffering,
Ø a recipient of Divine ideas,
Ø a messenger of redemptive mercy.
Where are the preachers that answer to this sketch? Let such men fill our
pulpits, and the conversion of
distant; and when all
the whole world will speedily be won to Christ.
Prayer for the Ephesians Spiritual Enrichment (vs. 14-21)
14 “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,”
For this cause. Seeing that the Gentiles have now equal privileges with the Jews;
seeing that by faith in Christ Gentile Christians have been brought as near to God,
and have as good a right to the good things of the covenant; — I take the
steps now to be specified for enabling them actually to possess these good
things. On the one hand, the apostle saw the believing Ephesians still
comparatively poor and needy; on the other hand, he saw all spiritual
stores provided for them: the question was how to get the one into contact
with the other. For this cause, he says, I bow my knees unto the Father.
An emphatic way of denoting prayer; but not incidental, occasional prayer,
inspired by some passing feeling; the attitude “bow my knees” denotes
deliberate prayer (compare Daniel 6:10), making a business of it,
approaching God with reverence and holy fear, with all the solemnities
suitable to the occasion of making a specific and important request. In the
Authorized Version. it is “unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The
Revised Version, some of the oldest manuscripts, and most recent commentators
omit the latter words, which are supposed to have been taken from ch.1:3. On
internal grounds, the omission of the words seems to yield the best sense,
for in ch. 2:18 our having access to “the Father” is spoken of,
and when the apostle proceeded to show how he availed himself of that
privilege, he is not likely to have used more than that expression. Further,
there is such a close connection between πατέρα – patera - Father and πατριὰ -
and patria - family - that they are not likely to have been far separated as
the apostle used them.
The Universal Fatherhood of God (v. 14)
· THE NATURE OF THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD.
ü God is the Source of our being. He has not only created us as He has
created the rocks. We are not manufactured, but begotten by God. He