Ephesians 3 | The Dispensation of Grace
1For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,
2If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
3How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
4Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
5Which 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;
6That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
7Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.
8Unto 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;
9And 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:
10To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
11According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:
12In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
13Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
14For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
16That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
17That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
20Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
21Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Today's Scripture Meaning:
The apostle sets forth his office, and his qualifications for it, and his call to it. (1-7) Also the noble purposes answered by it. (8-12) He prays for the Ephesians. (13-19) And adds a thanksgiving. (20,21)
Verses 1-7: For having preached the doctrine of truth, the apostle was a prisoner, but a prisoner of Jesus Christ; the object of special protection and care, while thus suffering for him. All the gracious offers of the gospel, and the joyful tidings it contains, come from the rich grace of God; it is the great means by which the Spirit works grace in the souls of men. The mystery, is that secret, hidden purpose of salvation through Christ. This was not so fully and clearly shown in the ages before Christ, as unto the prophets of the New Testament. This was the great truth made known to the apostle, that God would call the Gentiles to salvation by faith in Christ. An effectual working of Divine power attends the gifts of Divine grace. As God appointed Paul to the office, so he qualified him for it.
Verses 8-12: Those whom God advances to honourable employments, he makes low in their own eyes; and where God gives grace to be humble, there he gives all other needful grace. How highly he speaks of Jesus Christ; the unsearchable riches of Christ! Though many are not enriched with these riches; yet how great a favour to have them preached among us, and to have an offer of them! And if we are not enriched with them it is our own fault. The first creation, when God made all things out of nothing, and the new creation, whereby sinners are made new creatures by converting grace, are of God by Jesus Christ. His riches are as unsearchable and as sure as ever, yet while angels adore the wisdom of God in the redemption of his church, the ignorance of self-wise and carnal men deems the whole to be foolishness.
Verses 13-19: The apostle seems to be more anxious lest the believers should be discouraged and faint upon his tribulations, than for what he himself had to bear. He asks for spiritual blessings, which are the best blessings. Strength from the Spirit of God in the inner man; strength in the soul; the strength of faith, to serve God, and to do our duty. If the law of Christ is written in our hearts, and the love of Christ is shed abroad there, then Christ dwells there. Where his Spirit dwells, there he dwells. We should desire that good affections may be fixed in us. And how desirable to have a fixed sense of the love of God in Christ to our souls! How powerfully the apostle speaks of the love of Christ! The breadth shows its extent to all nations and ranks; the length, that it continues from everlasting to everlasting; the depth, its saving those who are sunk into the depths of sin and misery; the height, its raising them up to heavenly happiness and glory. Those who receive grace for grace from Christ's fulness, may be said to be filled with the fulness of God. Should not this satisfy man? Must he needs fill himself with a thousand trifles, fancying thereby to complete his happiness?
Verse 20,21: It is proper always to end prayers with praises. Let us expect more, and ask for more, encouraged by what Christ has already done for our souls, being assured that the conversion of sinners, and the comfort of believers, will be to his glory, for ever and ever
Today's Scripture Application
Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we continue in the book of Ephesians with Chapter 3 and in our text we see Paul's special mission to the gentiles, explaining this dispensation of grace we live, and to expound on the love of Christ. In making application we see the tremendous opportunity for all to be saved as God's wrath on sinners is held back as he extends to hand of Grace to all. Today many confuse God's grace for sinners as a license to sin but God's love is on display as He is calling all to repentance as this dispensation is quickly coming to a close. How about you? Do you see the Grace God is extending you today? Let us learn from our text today as Paul lets our mission to be known, to be saved, and then to preach the Gospel to every creature before this Dispensation of Grace extended to all comes to an end.
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Dr. David Burnette
Director, The United States Bible Society, Inc.