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By What Authority

Ephesians 3:1-7

Paul has explained the hidden mystery of the Jews and Gentiles being united into one people in Christ Jesus, 2:11-22. Now he tells the Ephesians of his authority, and why he is revealing the mystery that had been hidden in Christ from the beginning. As Paul explains the Gospel of Christ, the mystery is revealed.

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


Acts 22:20-25:12. (The account of Paul's imprisonment actually starts in 21:15). When Paul said that the God of Abraham sent him to preach the Gospel of Christ to the Gentiles, the Jews rioted, and demanded his death. The riot was so bad that the chief captain in the Roman army who was stationed in Jerusalem had to rescue him from the Jewish mob. Assuming Paul had done something wrong, the chief captain ordered him to be examined by scourging to find the truth. When Paul told the centurion that he was a Roman citizen, the scourging did not take place. Rather, Paul was given a hearing to tell the truth about the riot. The Jews continued to pursue him at these hearings with their charge that he was violating their laws. Finally, Paul appeared before Festus, the Roman Governor of Judah.

Acts 25:7-12. When he could not get a fair hearing before Festus, he appealed to Caesar's judgment seat where he said that he ought to be judged.

"Acts 25:7 And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove. 8 While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all. 9 But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me? 10 Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. 11 For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar. 12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go."

In Acts 23:11, God had told him that he would "bear witness also at Rome", and God sent him to Rome as a prisoner for preaching the gospel to the Gentiles.

A prisoner

First, Acts 9. Paul was taken captive by Jesus Christ through conversion while on his way to Damascus to arrest and kill Christians. As a prisoner of Christ, he was to take the gospel to the Gentiles.
Second, Acts 22:20-25:12. His preaching of Christ violated Jewish custom, so he became a prisoner of Rome for his own protection.
Third, Acts 25:12. God sent him to Rome as a prisoner of Rome

In Acts 9, Paul tells of his being apprehended by Christ on the road to Damascus. In Ephesians 3, Paul explains why Christ took him prisoner. God's purpose was for Paul to make known the mystery of the gospel throughout the known world of his day. That mystery had been hidden in Christ from the beginning.


"Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

"Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

In Philippians, apprehend means one who was apprehended by God's holy power and influence. That is, Christ lays hold of the individual's mind and will in order to prompt and govern it to do His will.

Ephesians 2:8-10, For by grace are you saved through faith... The grace of God apprehends those He has chosen to be His by laying hold of their mind, and prompts them to exercise faith, and yield to the Lord Jesus Christ.

"Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." The Elect are prompted to exercise faith in the One Who is both Lord and Christ, and the One who was crucified their place. They are prompted to yield to Jesus as their Lord, Master or King. That is "Lordship Salvation" if we want to use that term. This yielding to Christ's authority is not forced upon the elect. Rather, those chosen by God from before the foundation of the world are influenced by the Sprit of God to make them willing to yield to the word of God.

God's people are not apprehended by Christ simply to enjoy Him forever. As sure as Paul was apprehended by Christ for a specific purpose in Acts 9, Christ apprehends the sinner for a specific purpose. That purpose is to glorify God here in this life.

We see in Ephesians 2:8-10 that the converted sinner has been apprehended, or recreated "in Christ Jesus unto good works".Those good works were established for that individual from the beginning. As we saw in 2:10, there are general "good works" required of all converted sinners, and there are specific "good works" required of specific individuals who are converted.

"2 Corinthians 5:9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences."

Paul was taken prisoner by the Spirit in Acts 9, and the purpose of his capture was made clear to him at that time. Paul now explains the reasons for his being taken a prisoner by Christ Jesus and given special grace.

V. 1. "for this cause..." From Rome, Paul assures the Ephesians that he is a prisoner there not for any crime nor debt nor as a captive of war. He is there as a captive for the cause of Christ, because he insisted that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles. Acts 22:21-23.

V 2. "Dispensation" or stewardship. Paul was given a heavy responsibility, and he is fulfilling that responsibility by the grace of God. God worked in an unique way to cause Paul to desire to do God's will, and he was given Divine and unique power and ability to do that will. And it is the same God who works in the hearts of those He calls to Himself.

Paul continually reminds his readers that those whom God calls to Himself, He will also give them both the desire and the power to fulfill their responsibility in God's kingdom.

In v. 13, Paul closes this section by expressing his desire that they be not distressed on account of the suffering he experienced for taking the gospel to the Gentiles.

Vv. 3, 4. "By Revelation". In Galatians 1, Paul tells how the Lord supernaturally revealed unto him the mystery of the gospel that had been hidden from the beginning. It was that both Jews and Gentiles would be one nation under one God through faith in the redemptive work of Christ.

Paul takes it for granted they knew of God's special grace which equipped him to take the gospel to the Gentiles; it equipped him to explain the mystery of the gospel to both the Gentiles and to the Jews; it equipped him to face the terrible persecution for preaching the gospel.

"As I wrote..." He opened this letter by going into great detail explaining that faith not works placed one into the Kingdom of God.

"Titus 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men."

"Works of righteousness..." Both Jews and Gentiles are called into the Kingdom of God through faith in Christ, not through any good works. No one will see God because he or she quit doing bad and started doing good, even good religious works.

Paul had gone into great detail explaining the mystery of Christ, and explaining God's method of redeeming and justifying lost sinners to Himself, particularly Gentile sinners.

"Mystery of Christ." Paul is not referring to the deep mysteries of Christ, such the union of the human and Divine natures making Him the God-Man, nor the difficult truths of election, nor the details of the atonement.

Understanding those deep mysteries of Christ are unnecessary for salvation. The "mystery" is simply that through the redemptive work of Christ, the Gentiles were to receive the same privileges as the Jews in God's kingdom, as well as the same new heart that desires to do those things that please God, as revealed in His Word.

V. 5. "Is now revealed..." God's plan from eternity past was to hide the mystery from "the sons of men" until the proper time.

"Galatians 4:3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: 4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."

When the time was right, then the mystery was revealed to the apostles and prophets. But Paul was God's special apostle chosen to supernaturally make known the mystery.

"Galatians 1:10-19. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. 11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: 14 And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, 16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. 19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother."

"and prophets" is a commonly misunderstood or misapplied idea in the modern church. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul tells us that the early church had prophets or Divinely inspired teachers. They were necessary at that early time in order to established the new Gospel Church upon the firm foundation of the law and prophets, which had to be built on the foundation of Christ, Who holds all things together.

2 Peter 1:19-2:2, v. 19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; Peter tells us that the Biblical office of Divine Prophet ended with the written word of God. He also warns that there will be false prophets and teachers who claim to be something they are not. They will offer false menages in the name of God, but those messages will not be according to the truth of God's word. And they will lead many astray.

"2 Peter 1:19-2:2 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 2:1 ¶ But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of."

Revelation 19:10 tells us that "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."

V. 5, "By the spirit" We have already mentioned this, but it certainly will not hurt to say it again.

"Ephesians 1:17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:"

There is a natural or human knowledge of the gospel of Christ. I had that knowledge for many years. I readily confessed that I was a sinner, that the penalty of sin was death, and that through faith in Christ alone my sins could be forgiven. I could and did quote all the details I knew to others. But the common definition of faith is quite different from God's definition. At that time, I understood faith as simply believing that Christ was the Son of God, and that He died for my sins, and that He rose from the dead. And if I would simply confessed that I believed those things to be true, I would be saved.

Paul described me perfectly in Romans 10:

"2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."

Multiplied millions are caught in this trap of simply believing and confessing the Scriptural facts about Christ. And like I was, they are convinced that they can be saved by simply a public confession of those facts. They might even have a zeal to spread those facts about Christ, but is that zeal about facts according to the required supernatural revelation of the true righteous of Christ?

Though the unsaved person can know and quote the facts of the Gospel to others, it is still a mystery to him unless the Spirit of God reveals the truth to him. The Spirit is just as necessary today in revealing the gospel to a sinner as He was necessary to reveal the mystery to Paul 2000 years ago.

The gospel mystery as hidden in Christ cannot be savingly known nor understood without the "the spirit of wisdom" giving "revelation in the knowledge of him".

"1 Corinthians 14:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:"

His resurrection proved that the sin debt of His people was paid. The Spirit of God must speak to the sinner to reveal and apply the truth of the gospel in a way that subdues the sinful heart to Christ.

V. 6 has been the theme of Paul's letter up to this point, and will continue to be through chapter 3, and into chapter 4. What was not made known in ages past was the uniting of the Jews and Gentiles into one new humanity through Faith in Christ. In Christ, there is only one body of believers, and that body is the only heir to the promises of God.

In the context here of Paul preaching unity to the early church, the promise to Abraham was that both Jews and Gentiles would be fellow heirs with Christ in all the promised blessings upon God's people. This unity was made possible through the redemptive work of Christ.

"2 Corinthians 1:20 For all the promises of God in him [are] yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us."

V. 7. "I was made..." It was God's unique call and His gift of grace that allowed Paul to explain the hidden mystery so it could be understood by both Jews and Gentiles.

Paul is writing to a church that was made up of both Jews and Gentiles. The Jews grew up with the separation between them and the Gentiles. So Paul continually tells them that the true gospel unites both into one body as the two become one common partaker in the promise in Christ. The two are now one common heir with Christ. The message caused many problems for the converted Jews who believed they were unique and special before God.

The choice was not Paul's. He was taken captive to become a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, and speak for the Lord as sure as Moses was captured for his unique purpose of speaking for the God of Heaven.

"I was made..." Paul was captured by Christ. He was apprehended; he was given the desire to submit to Christ as his Lord and savior.

"John 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you."

I could not tell how many times I have wanted to quit the ministry because of difficulties, heart-breaks and disappointments. Yet I would be continually reminded of John 15:16.

I have not seen the physical fruit that one expects of a successful ministry, but I must judge righteous judgment. I cannot judge according to what I can see. All I can do is be faithful with the tasks God chose me for back in the late 60s.

"1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful."

I cannot not tell you how many times I have wanted to quit as a failure, and I even tried to quit when we moved to Front Royal. But the Lord used Bro. Sprinkle to keep me in the battle. I cannot get past John 15:16, and 1 Corinthians 4:2. God chose me and ordained me to be His, and He has given a measure of grace, though it be small, to me to be faithful in what He has set before men.

Maybe 15 years ago, I came across this poem:

Keeping On

I've dreamed many a dream that never came true
I've seen them vanish at dawn
But I've realized enough of my dreams, thank God,
To make me want to dream on.

I've prayed many prayers when no answer came
Though I waited patient and long
But answers have come to enough of my prayers
To make me want to keep on praying on.

I've trusted many a friend that failed
And left me to weep alone
but I've found enough of my friends true blue
To make me keep trusting on

I've sown many seed that fell by the way
For the birds to feed upon
but I've held enough golden sheaves in my hands
To make me keep sowing on

I've drained the cup of disappointment and pain
And gone many days without song
But I've sipped enough nectar from the roses of life
To make me want to live on


Though there are very few visible results, I do know that there have been genuine conversions in my ministry, and that my writings have been used to change lives.

A director in the AWANA ministry in Indiana encountered one of my booklets, and requested a good number to pass out to the AWANA chapters under him. When I first put it together, Rushdoony ordered a dozen to pass out.

I have not been able dismiss the fact that it was God who chose me, and gave me a unique gift outside of any natural ability I had dreamed of growing up. I certainly did not choose to go the way I have. I remind the Lord often that I am here because He chose me; I did not choose Him, and He is the One who placed me in the "ministry", for lack of a better term. I am His responsibility, and He knew my weaknesses, failures and sins when He chose me for His purpose.

"John 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and [that] your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you."

It is God who captures His particular people. He captures them for a specific purpose, and they are given the grace to accomplish His purpose for them.

Being captured will result in a new heart what desires to obey the Word of God, no matter the cost:

"Ezekiel 36:25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them."

"Romans 7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:"

"2 Corinthians 3:3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart."


First, it is God's Holy Spirit who captures His ministers for the gospel. Otherwise, the minister will have no more than words as they try to explain the gospel. They will have zeal without the Holy Spirit endowed knowledge. With great zeal, they can preach righteousness according to man's view, rather than the righteousness of God.

It is God's Holy Spirit who captures various individuals for His own glory.

Second, God is not restricted, and He often uses even the words of unsaved men to call the sinner to Himself.

Third, God's Holy Spirit captures the individual for specific purposes, and He then supplies the needed grace so that individual can be a faithful steward in his God given calling.

And we must stop here.

To here, 3/9/14


We will conclude this chapter today.

Paul was a prisoner of Jesus Christ in Rome. In Acts 9. Paul tells us how he was captured by Jesus Christ through conversion while on his way to Damascus to arrest and kill Christians. As a prisoner of Christ, he was told he to take the gospel to the Gentiles.

In Acts 22:20-25:12. His preaching of Christ violated national Jewish custom, so he became a prisoner of Rome for his own protection against the murderous wrath of the Jews.

The Jews' worship of God had become very powerful and corrupt. The leaders would not permit anyone nor anything to undermine their power. So they killed Christ, and persecuted the new gospel preachers.

Modern Jews have absolutely no connection to the Jews of Paul's day. They were a race of people who could trace their lineage back to Abraham. Those Jews who were not killed in 70AD, were scattered world-wide. All trace of those Jews has been lost. Moreover, Rome burnt the archives. God had preserved the archives to prove who Christ was, and now it was no longer needed.

Then in Acts 25:12, rather than being turned over to the Jews for judgment, he appealed to Caesar. As promised by God, Paul then went as a prisoner to Rome. While waiting to appear before Caesar, he writes many letters to the Gospel Churches he started. This letter to Ephesus is one of those letters. He has spent three years establishing this church in a city totally given over to paganism, including immorality of every kind imaginable. Through the preaching of the gospel of Christ, multitudes turned from their paganism and immorality, and received the New Life available only through Christ.


First, it is God's Holy Spirit who captures His ministers for the gospel, that is His preachers. Otherwise, the minister will have no more than words as they try to explain the gospel. They will have zeal without the Holy Spirit endowed knowledge. With great zeal, they can preach righteousness according to man's view, rather than the righteousness of God.

It is God's Holy Spirit who captures various individuals for His own glory.

Second, we cannot limit the Working of the Spirit in salvation. God uses the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe. That means He even uses foolish men to accomplish His purpose. I was one of those foolish men who preached before I was converted, and I honestly believe that some of those many hundreds I witnessed to were genuinely converted.

Third, God's Holy Spirit captures the individual for specific purposes, and He then supplies the needed grace so that individual can be a faithful steward in his God given calling.

"Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure."

It is God's Spirit who gives one the desire and power to follow Christ, and then it is the Spirit who gives the power to come to Christ, and do the will of God as revealed in His word.

Paul has spent the first part of this letter telling the Ephesians that he was uniquely and personally called, taught and empowered by Christ to reveal the mystery of the Gospel that had been hid from the beginning. The mystery was that through Christ, the Gentiles would become joint heirs with the Jews in the household of God. This fact upset a good many Jews, so they followed the preachers of the mysteries of the Gospel and did their best to undermine the truth.

V. 8. "Least of all..." What he was like before his conversion remained fresh in Paul's memory. He killed Christians. Every time he considered the deplorable condition from where the Lord brought him, the grace of God became ever more real and precious to him.

He now boldly proclaimed the power of the amazing converting grace of God that brought him from a killer of Christians to a promoter of Christianity. And even more than a promoter, but given special grace, he was given the task of revealing the "unsearchable riches of Christ".

"1 Corinthians 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:"

Once a killer of those who followed the gospel of Christ, now he is the chief promoter of that same gospel.

As did Paul, we should look back with shame on the life we lived before Christ. But that memory should cause us to rejoice at the amazing grace of God when we see from where the Lord found us, and now we sit with him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

"Isaiah 51:1 Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock [whence] ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit [whence] ye are digged."

Notice here that though one is in the pit of mire and sin, there is a promise given in the law, psalms, prophets and in the gospels.

"Deuteronomy 4:29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find [him], if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul."

"Proverbs 8:17, I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me."
"Jeremiah 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find [me], when ye shall search for me with all your heart."
"Luke 11:9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."

"Hebrews 10:16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more."

"Hebrews 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"

V. 9.. Paul was captured by Christ, and given abundant Grace so he could make all men see the fellowship of the mystery hidden from the beginning. He has spent the previous chapters explaining his call in the mystery for which he was responsible to explain.

The mystery was that the Gentiles should be fellowheirs to the promises available in Christ. The mystery was that the two nations, Jews and Gentiles, should become one new nation, or "building fitly framed together" into "an holy temple in the Lord" which would be "builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." And this temple would be built upon Christ Jesus.

Christ told Peter in Matthew 16:18 " And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

Peter was the first to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ to the Gentiles, but he did not define the mystery. Paul was the one chosen to define, or explain and spread the facts of the mystery.

"Created". The One Who created all the worlds is the One Who is fully capable of creating a new man with a desire to please the Lord, and that new man replaces the old man who at one time lived according to the natural desires to please the flesh.

Look at the sky on a clear no moon cold night. The glories of God are clearly seen, but God's glory is seen especially in making a saint out of a sinner.

V. 10. "To the intent... might know by the church"

The "manifold wisdom of God" was hid at the beginning from the "principalities and powers in heavenly places". But now, in Paul's day, the "manifold wisdom of God is revealed to those powers. They now know the great wisdom of God as revealed in the plan to reunite fallen man with the Heavenly Father through the work of Christ for lost sinners.

V. 11, those powers of v. 10 now know that everything was in God's eternal purpose to reveal His great wisdom through the Gospel Church. The church is God's theater for displaying God's manifold wisdom.

3:12, bold and confident "access". The first Adam had bold access to and fellowship with God the Father, who created all things by the Son, Jesus Christ. Those principalities and powers witnessed man's loss of that bold access because of sin. Those same powers witnessed God's restoration of bold access and fellowship with man through the work of the second Man Adam.

The author of Hebrews gives us this bold assurance:

"Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."

This mystery was hidden until God's predetermined time arrived to reveal it. It was hidden in Christ Who, through His substitutionary work of the cross, brought peace in man's war against God that started in the Garden. Man being made in the image of God, that war also includes war against himself; that is, his natural self-destructive desire. That war expanded to war against one another when Cain killed Able. The sin that separated man from God has been conquered by Christ on the cross.

V. 13. The truth of the mystery he preached to them resulted in suffering at the hands of the Jews, but he told the Ephesians not to be concerned about his suffering, for it resulted in the glory of their salvation.

Vv. 14-21

The second part of this chapter records Paul's devout and affectionate prayer to God for the Ephesians.

"For this cause..." "That he would grant you..."


First, to whom he prays: "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." As Scripture tells us many times, there is no approach to the Father other than through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Second, the position from which he prays. "I bow my knees." A short word about prayer.

A. Outward position is not important, but the inward position is all important–humble and with reverence. Though we have bold access to the Father through Christ, we still must approach God the Father as God our Creator and the unseen cause behind everything.

B. Spoken words are not necessary. Hannah spoke in her heart, and the Lord heard her prayer. 1 Samuel 1:13.

"Of whom the whole family..." The Jews were proud of their relationship to Abraham as their father. But now Paul reminds all that it is the church united as one household of faith that has the access to the Father. It is one's relationship to Christ not to Abraham that gives bold access to the Heavenly Father.

Now Paul lists several things for which he prays.

Note that these are spiritual blessings, no physical nor material blessings. Spiritual blessings are the best for ourselves and for our friends.

First, "be strengthened" Spiritual strength for the "good works, which God hath before ordained" for us to walk in. 2:10.

"In the inner man", the heart and soul. It is from the inner man that we endure temptation and disappointments. It is from the inner man where we get the strength to carry out the "good works" which were before "ordained" for us.

Strengthened in our faith and all the graces needed to serve God and do our duty with vigor and cheerfulness.

Second, "that Christ may dwell... by faith." The most desirable thing in this life is to have salvation; that is, Christ in one's heart by faith alone. But Christ does not dwell there because one asked Jesus to come into their heart. That is a lie of the devil. Christ dwells in the heart of the beliver. That is, those who have placed their faith in the finished work of Christ as their subsitute.

* Faith in Christ places the law of God in the heart.

* Faith in Christ submits to Christ's will for us.

* Faith in Christ sheds abroad the love of God:

"Romans 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. 6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him."

Third, "being rooted and grounded in love." How many have we seen who are a "flash in the pan." We got a bunch of bamboo from Bro Sprinkle for the garden. What we have not used we burn. That bamboo will make a very bright flame, and make a very loud and noisy fire. However, in a few minutes it is all gone.

On the other hand, a good locust knot will burn all night.

Over the years, I have seen them come and go. They start with a great fervor for the Lord, make a lot of noise, last maybe a year, and then you cannot even find them.

"Rooted and grounded..." Paul prayed that they would be established and unshaken in the Love of Christ for them. And they would grow in their love for Christ and for one another, and that love would be so deeply rooted that it would last and grow for a lifetime.

"1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us."

Forth, "able to comprehend..." More clearly understand and believe the amazing love of Christ toward His own. We do understand a bit of Christ's love for His own, but we certainly do not grasp the full extent of His love. Paul's prayer is that we might understand more and grow more in His love. "More love to thee, O Lord, more love to thee."

"The breadth, and length, and depth, and height.." of God's love. As Job said in 11:8,

"It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? 9 The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea."

Men have studied the heavens since the beginning, and today are spending vast sums of money trying to find the end of the heavens. They also talk of an "expanding universe". Trying to discover the mysteries of Christ's love for His own is like trying to study the heavens. That study will reveal new truths, but man will never find the extent of the heavens.

How do we study the Love of Christ? When we study Christ as revealed in His word, we find that love is from everlasting to everlasting.

In fact, His love "passeth human knowledge" as the secrets of the heavens are beyond human knowledge. But His people are not to give up on knowing more about His love, but they will never fully understand His love until they see Him in His beauty.

Sixth, "Filled with all the fullness of God." This cannot be a literal fullness, for the man Christ Jesus alone had and has the fullness of the Godhead:

"Colossians 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."

Rather it is like other high commands given to His people:

"Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
"Luke 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful."

These are graces that God in His mercy and grace is willing to give. He will give as much of His graces to His people as His people are willing to accept and use.

"Ephesians 4:7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ."

We will deal with 4:7-13 when we come to it.

Paul's prayer was that the Ephesians would strive to be all and know all that is humanly possible as a Child of the King, and for the glory of God.

Vv. 20, 21, Paul closes his prayer he started in v. 1.

First, he closes with praise to the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Second, he describes God as the One who "is able to do exceeding abundantly above" all we can imagine to ask of or think of Him.

Note that He "is able" does not mean He will do it.

Third, how do we know He "is able"?

"Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, 2 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) 3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: 5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: 6 Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: 7 To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ."

The One Who has the power over death and hell is able to do as He pleases on this earth, and in the lives of His people.

Forth, "world without end. Amen."

Both Jews and Gentiles join in the one household, and praise God.

"The Mediator of these praises is Jesus Christ. All God's gifts come from him to us through the hand of Christ; and all our praises pass from us to him through the same hand. And God should and will be praised thus throughout all ages, world without end; for he will ever have a church to praise him, and he will ever have his tribute of praise from his church. Amen. So be it; and so it will certainly be." (MH)