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Darlene

Ephesians 3:7-9

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I was talking to my daddy this morning...I'm still a 'daddy's girl' at my age, and was just telling a friend last night how lucky I've always felt that such a Godly man like him, not only was in my life, but was MY dad...

 

He's made it very easy in some ways, for me to transfer my trust, love, openness, need, etc., from my earthly father to my Heavenly Father. While he is no more perfect that you or I, he has walked for many years, with a single purpose, with his eyes glued to the Cross, and the fruits of his life, are apparent everywhere.

 

He was sharing how Matthew Henry's commentary is one that he's always used over the years...he said that it's the oldest commentary, and for all intents and purposes, he feels that it is the most accurate. Not that I need to make these study's any longer lol but I'm going to start including MH's commentary, along with the others. From what I can see, MH's commentary isn't like the others...it's not necessary broken down verse by verse. He appeared to write in a more paragraphical style, so I'll try to confine his comments, the best I can, that are applicable to the verses at hand.

 

Heavenly Father,

 

Forgive me my sins, for they are many. Open my mind that I may learn of Your truths. And prepare my heart and make it into one, that mirrors Your own.

 

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.

 

I'm going to paste Matthew Henry's commentary, as it addresses these verses today. I'll try to seperate it the best I can, but it will probably encompass more than just the above verse, but will hopefully encapsulate the parameter of scriptures for today:

 

III. The apostle informs them how he was employed in this office, and that with respect to the Gentiles, and to all men.

 

1. With respect to the Gentiles, he preached to them the unsearchable riches of Christ, v. 8. Observe, in this verse, how humbly he speaks of himself, and how highly he speaks of Jesus Christ. (1.) How humbly he speaks of himself: I am less than the least of all saints. St. Paul, who was the chief of the apostles, calls himself less than the least of all saints: he means on account of his having been formerly a persecutor of the followers of Christ. He was, in his own esteem, as little as could be. What can be less than the least? To speak himself as little as could be, he speaks himself less than could be. Observe, Those whom God advances to honourable employments he humbles and makes low in their own eyes; and, where God gives grace to be humble, there he gives all other grace. You may also observe in what a different manner the apostle speaks of himself and of his office. While he magnifies his office, he debases himself. Observe, A faithful minister of Christ may be very humble, and think very meanly of himself, even when he thinks and speaks very highly and honourably of his sacred function. (2.) How highly he speaks of Jesus Christ: The unsearchable riches of Christ. There is a mighty treasury of mercy, grace, and love, laid up in Christ Jesus, and that both for Jews and Gentiles. Or, the riches of the gospel are here spoken of as the riches of Christ: the riches which Christ purchased for, and bestows upon, all believers. And they are unsearchable riches, which we cannot find the bottom of, which human sagacity could never have discovered, and men could no otherwise attain to the knowledge of them but by revelation. Now it was the apostle's business and employment to preach these unsearchable riches of Christ among the Gentiles: and it was a favour he greatly valued, and looked upon it as an unspeakable honour to him: "Unto me is this grace given; this special favour God has granted to such an unworthy creature as I am." And it is an unspeakable favour to the Gentile world that to them the unsearchable riches of Christ are preached. Though many remain poor, and are not enriched with these riches, yet it is a favour to have them preached among us, to have an offer of them made to us; and, if we are not enriched with them, it is our own fault.

 

I've tried several times to write my thoughts and feelings about this commentary, and it's just not happening. I keep praying for the Lord to give me the words that would accurately reflect my experience and understanding here, but it just ain't working. So, I'm just going to let this stand 'as is'.

 

Calvin writes, "Of which I was made a minister. Having declared the gospel to be the instrument employed in communicating grace to the Gentiles, he now adds, that he was made a minister of the Gospel; and thus applies to himself the general statements which had been made. But, to avoid claiming for himself more than is proper, he affirms that it is the gift of the grace of God, and that this gift was an exhibition of divine power. As if he had said, “Inquire not what I have deserved; for in the free exercise of kindness, the Lord made me an apostle of the Gentiles, not for any excellence of mine, but by his own grace. Inquire not what I formerly was; for it is the Lord’s prerogative to ‘exalt them of low degree.’” (Luke 1:52.) To produce something great out of nothing, shews the effectual working of his power."

 

Clarke comments, " Whereof I was made a minister] diakonov? A deacon, a servant acting under and by the direction of the great Master, Jesus Christ; from whom, by an especial call and revelation, I received the apostolic gifts and office, and by thn energeian thv dunamewv autou, the energy, the in-working of his power, this Gospel which I preached was made effectual to the salvation of vast multitudes of Jews and Gentiles."

 

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;

 

Calvin's states, "To me, who am the least. He labors to exhibit himself, and everything that belongs to him, in as humiliating a light as possible, in order that the grace of God may be the more highly exalted. But this acknowledgment had the additional effect of anticipating the objections which his adversaries might bring against him. “Who is this man that God should have raised him above all his brethren? What superior excellence did he possess that he should be chosen in preference to all the others?” All such comparisons of personal worth are set aside by the confession, that he was the least of all the saints.

 

This is no hypocritical declaration. Most men are ready enough to make professions of feigned humility, while their minds are swelled with pride, and in words to acknowledge themselves inferior to every one else, while they wish to be regarded with the highest esteem, and think themselves entitled to the highest honor. Paul is perfectly sincere in admitting his unworthiness; nay, at other times he speaks of himself in far more degrading language.

 

“For I am the least of the apostles, and am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”

(1 Corinthians 15:9.)

 

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief”

(1 Timothy 1:15.)

 

But let us observe, that, when he speaks of himself as the meanest of all, he confines his attention to what he was in himself, apart from the grace of God. As if he had said, that his own worthlessness did not prevent him from being appointed, while others were passed by, to be the apostle of the Gentiles. The grace of God given to me is the expression used by him, to intimate that it was a peculiar gift, as compared with what had been bestowed on others. Not that he alone had been elected to discharge that office, but that he held the highest rank among “the teachers of the Gentiles,” — a title which he employs on another occasion as peculiar to himself.

 

“I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not,) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”

(1 Timothy 2:7.)

 

By the unsearchable riches of Christ are meant the astonishing and boundless treasures of grace, which God had suddenly and unexpectedly bestowed on the Gentiles. The Ephesians are thus reminded how eagerly the gospel ought to be embraced, and how highly it ought to be esteemed. This subject has been treated in the Exposition of the Epistle to the Galatians, (Galatians 1:15, 16; 2:7, 9.) And certainly, while Paul held the office of apostleship in common with others, it was an honor peculiar to himself to be appointed apostle of the Gentiles."

 

Clarke writes, "Less than the least of all saints] elacistoterw pantwn agiwn. As the design of the apostle was to magnify the grace of Christ in the salvation of the world, he uses every precaution to prevent the eyes of the people from being turned to any thing but Christ crucified; and although he was obliged to speak of himself as the particular instrument which God had chosen to bring the Gentile world to the knowledge of the truth, yet he does it in such a manner as to show that the excellency of the power was of God, and not of him; and that, highly as he and his follow apostles were honoured; they had the heavenly treasure in earthen vessels.

 

To lay himself as low as possible, consistently with his being in the number of Divinely commissioned men, he calls himself less than the least; and is obliged to make a new word, by strangely forming a comparative degree, not from the positive, which would have been a regular grammatical procedure, but from the superlative. The adjective elacuv signifies little, elasswn or elattwn, less, and elacistov, least. On this latter, which is the superlative of elacuv, little, St. Paul forms his comparative, elacistoterov, less than the least, a word of which it would be vain to attempt a better translation than that given in our own version. It most strongly marks the unparalleled humility of the apostle; and the amazing condescension of God, in favouring him, who had been before a persecutor and blasphemer, with the knowledge of this glorious scheme of human redemption, and the power to preach it so successfully among the Gentiles.

 

The unsearchable riches of Christ] The word anexicniastov, from a, privative, and exicniazw, to trace out, from icnov, a step, is exceedingly well chosen here: it refers to the footsteps of God, the plans he had formed, the dispensations which he had published, and the innumerable providences which he had combined, to prepare, mature, and bring to full effect and view his gracious designs in the salvation of a ruined world, by the incarnation, passion, death, and resurrection of his Son. There were in these schemes and providences such riches - such an abundance, such a variety, as could not be comprehended even by the naturally vast, and, through the Divine inspiration, unparalleledly capacious mind of the apostle.

 

Yet he was to proclaim among the Gentiles these astonishing wonders and mysteries of grace; and as he proceeds in this great and glorious work, the Holy Spirit that dwelt in him opens to his mind more and more of those riches - leads him into those footsteps of the Almighty which could not be investigated by man nor angel, so that his preaching and epistles, taken all in their chronological order, will prove that his views brighten, and his discoveries become more numerous and more distinct in proportion as he advances. And had he lived, preached, and written to the present day, he had not exhausted the subject, nor fully declared to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ - the endless depths of wisdom and knowledge treasured up in him, and the infinity of saving acts and saving power displayed by him. "

 

That's an interesting thought, and so true...if Paul had continued to live to this day, he would not have exhausted teaching about the "the endless depths of wisdom and knowledge treasured up in him, and the infinity of saving acts and saving power displayed by him."

 

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:

 

Henry writes, "With respect to all men, v. 9. His business and employment were to make all men see (to publish and make known to the whole world) what is the fellowship of the mystery (that the Gentiles who have hitherto been strangers to the church, shall be admitted into communion with it) which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God (kept secret in his purpose), who created all things by Jesus Christ: as John i. 3, All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made; and therefore no wonder that he saves the Gentiles as well as the Jews; for he is the common Creator of them both: and we may conclude that he is able to perform the work of their redemption, seeing he was able to accomplish the great work of creation. It is true that both 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."

 

Clarke writes, " And to make all men see] kai fwtisai pantav? And to illuminate all; to give information both to Jews and Gentiles; to afford them a sufficiency of light, so that they might be able distinctly to discern the great objects exhibited in this Gospel.

 

What is the fellowship of the mystery] The word koinwnia, which we properly translate fellowship, was used among the Greeks to signify their religious communities; here it may intimate the association of Jews and Gentiles in one Church or body, and their agreement in that glorious mystery which was now so fully opened relative to the salvation of both.

 

But instead of koinwnia, fellowship, oikonomia, dispensation or economy, is the reading of ABCDEFG, and more than fifty others; both the Syriac, Coptic, AEthiopic, Armenian, Slavonian, Vulgate and Itala, with the chief of the Greek fathers. Some of the best printed editions of the Greek text have the same reading, and that in our common text has very little authority to support it. Dispensation or economy is far more congenial to the scope of the apostle's declaration in this place; he wished to show them the economy of that mystery of bringing Jews and Gentiles to salvation by faith in Christ Jesus, which God from the beginning of the world had kept hidden in his own infinite mind, and did not think proper to reveal even when he projected the creation of the world, which had respect to the economy of human redemption. And although the world was made by Jesus Christ, the great Redeemer, yet at that period this revelation of the power of God, the design of saving men, whose fall infinite wisdom had foreseen, was not then revealed. This reading Griesbach has received into the text.

 

Who created all things by Jesus Christ] Some very judicious critics are of opinion that this does not refer to the material creation; and that we should understand the whole as referring to the formation of all God's dispensations of grace, mercy, and truth, which have been planned, managed, and executed by Christ, from the foundation of the world to the present time. But the words dia ihsou cristou, by Jesus Christ, are wanting in ABCD*FG, and several others; also in the Syriac, Arabic of Erpen, Coptic, AEthiopic, Vulgate, and Itala; as also in several of the fathers. Griesbach has thrown the words out of the text; and Professor White says, "certissime delenda," they are indisputably spurious. The text, therefore, should be read: which from the beginning of the world had been hidden in God who created all things. No inferiority of Christ can be argued from a clause of whose spuriousness there is the strongest evidence."

 

Calvin shares, " What is the fellowship of the mystery. The publication of the gospel is called a fellowship, because it is the will of God that his purpose, which had formerly been hidden, shall now be shared by men. There is an appropriate metaphor in the words φωτίσαι πάντας, to enlighten all men, — conveying the thought, that, in his apostleship, the grace of God shines with the brightness of noon-day.

 

Which hath been hid in God. This is intended, as before, to obviate the prejudice of novelty, — to oppose the rashness of men, who think it improper that they should remain in ignorance of anything whatever. Who will question the right which God has to keep his own purposes concealed, until he shall be pleased to communicate them to men? What presumption, — yea, what madness is it, not to admit that God is wiser than we! Let us remember, therefore, that our rashness ought to receive a check, whenever the boundless height of the Divine foreknowledge is presented to our view. This, too, is the reason why he calls them the unsearchable riches of Christ; intimating that this subject, though it exceeds our capacity, ought to be contemplated with reverence and admiration.

 

Who created all things by Jesus Christ. This cannot so properly be understood of the first creation as of the spiritual renewal. It is, no doubt, true, and is frequently declared in Scripture, that by the Word of God all things were created; but the connection of the passage lays us under the necessity of understanding by it that renewal which is comprehended in the blessing of redemption. But it may, perhaps, be thought that the apostle is illustrating this renewal, by an argument drawn from the creation. “By Christ, as God, the Father created (John 1:3) all things; and why, then, should we wonder, if by Christ, as Mediator, all the Gentiles are now brought back to one body?” I have no objection to this view. A similar argument is used by him in another Epistle.

 

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, is the same who hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

(2 Corinthians 4:6.)

 

From the creation of the world he concludes, that it is the work of God to enlighten the darkness; but what was visible in the former case is ascribed to the Spirit, when he comes to speak of the kingdom of Christ."

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Those whom God advances to honourable employments he humbles and makes low in their own eyes; and, where God gives grace to be humble, there he gives all other grace.


Quote:
And they are unsearchable riches, which we cannot find the bottom of, which human sagacity could never have discovered, and men could no otherwise attain to the knowledge of them but by revelation.


These two quotes from Henry's commentary struck me...pride (absence of humility) gets in the way of appreciating that we can't through our limited human efforts understand

Quote:
The unsearchable riches of Christ. There is a mighty treasury of mercy, grace, and love, laid up in Christ Jesus, and that both for Jews and Gentiles.


In other words, only through Revelation (by the workings of the Holy Spirit, perhaps??) can we understand the Gospel message.

Maybe that's why so many human efforts at evangelizing fail?

Thanks for putting this study together for us...I'm struggling to understand a lot of this, being ex-RC. We just weren't taught the Bible at all...I'm having to do a lot of catch-up here. This helps a lot.

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