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Asbury Bible Commentary – D. How Paul Came to the Knowledge of the Mystery (3:1–13)
Resources » Asbury Bible Commentary » Part III: The New Testament » EPHESIANS » Commentary » II. Formation of the New Community (1:3–3:21) » D. How Paul Came to the Knowledge of the Mystery (3:1–13)
D. How Paul Came to the Knowledge of the Mystery (3:1–13)

In 3:1, Paul begins a prayer. “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles. . . .” But before proceeding he wonders if these Gentiles might need interpretation of the divine mystery he has been trying to explain to them. So he leaves off the prayer and begins a discussion of how and why God's grace was given to him on their behalf. He does not resume the prayer until v. 14.

He hopes that they will gain insight into the mystery of Christ. Such knowledge was not previously possible because the full truth about God's eternal plan had not been revealed. What, in short, is the mystery now revealed? It is that the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, as one body sharing in the promise of Christ Jesus.

Paul believed he was selected to declare the mystery as the result of God's grace and sovereign power. Undeserving of the responsibility placed upon him, he modestly accepted both the grace and the challenge to tell the Gentiles about the riches of Christ, and to make clear to everyone the mystery of grace, hidden for ages in the councils of God.

What purpose did God have in bringing Jews and Gentiles into unity through Christ? His plan was to make known, in the environment of world empire, the manifold wisdom of God, seen in God's new community. To whom is this divine plan to be revealed? Demonic rulers and authorities, principalities and powers, and those in high places need to know that God's eternal purpose has been accomplished in Christ.

There are now no barriers, either divine or human, to God. Through faith in Christ all have “free birthright and [the] right of access, with full confidence to exercise it” (Bruce, Letters, 275). The rights they now enjoy, Paul has been pleased to announce to them. His sufferings have been for their glory and benefit. Therefore they must not be discouraged because of his sufferings, but should, instead, think of the privileges they now enjoy because of him.