The Mystery of the Gospel: 3:1-13.
Paul identifies himself as a prisoner for Christ on behalf of gentiles. He was painfully aware of the opposition of Jews and their unwilling to accept him as an apostle (2 Cor 10:10). Paul admits that God had given him a thorn in his flesh to keep him humble (2 Cor 12:7-9). His ministry was purely based on the grace of God (1 Cor 15:10). Paul does not want the Ephesians to be overly concerned about his suffering for the gospel. He rejoices that the mystery of the gospel is made known to him by revelation. The word “Mystery” is used seven times in this letter. Mystery is the spiritual truth once unknown but now revealed to the apostles through inspiration of the Lord (John 14:26). In the Old Testament it was revealed partially in types and symbols. Paul refers to this as the mystery of the gospel, the unsearchable riches in Christ. That is Jews and gentiles are united in the church and they are joint-heirs with Christ (3:6; Rom 8:17). They are partakers of God’s promises in Christ. Paul preached the mystery of the gospel. He Says, “I am the least of all saints, I am least of all apostles and I am chief of all sinners” (3:8; 1 Cor 15:9; 1 Tim 1:15). Paul never got over his own unworthiness for his calling to preach the gospel. He never thought of himself more highly than he ought to think (Rom 12:3). We will never understand God’s grace fully. God reveals His manifold wisdom and grace in Christ through the church. In fact church is an object lesson to angels about the salvation of gentiles and Jews (Pet 1:12; 1 Cor 4:9). Angels rejoice when sinners repent and watch over the activities of local church (Luke 15:10;1 Cor 11:10). The church is part of God’s eternal plan in Christ. Paul was committed to guard and share this truth to faithful men (1 Tim 1:11;
2 Tim 2:2). Because of what Christ has done for us, we have full access to God (Heb 4:16). We should not take this privilege lightly. Those who spend time in God’s presence will never be the same. Difficulties are not reasons for abandoning the faith in Christ. Paul’s trials did not mean that he was out of the will of God. They were divine appointments for the furtherance of the gospel (Phil 1:12). The suffering we face for the gospel is nothing in comparison to the glorious inheritance we are going receive when Christ returns.
Prayer for Spiritual Strength: 3:14-16.
In Paul’s second prayer for Ephesians, he asks for the spiritual strength for their inner man. This prayer serves as a link between the teaching of this letter and the practical application of it. The first three chapters are about what God has done for us in Christ. The last three chapters are about all that we can do in response. Paul began his prayer with the phrase “For this reason”. It simply means in view of God’s great plan for this universe and the church. In Christ we are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (2:22). Paul bows his knees before the Father. He was humble and submissive before God. God claims fatherhood of all men because of his creation (Luke 3:38; Acts 17:29). But by redemption God is the Father of all true believers. This relationship speaks of acceptance and compassion (Psalms 103:12-13). God has only one family, some are in heaven and others are here on earth. All are not God’s children (2:2-3). Paul prays that believers would be filled with the fullness of God's love and strength in their inner man. There is a reference to Trinity in this prayer. One God, eternally existing in three distinct Persons. We are saved by God. The Father planned the salvation, the Son accomplished it on the cross and the Spirit applies it. Paul prays for divine strength to understand God’s great love for them in Christ. This strength is given in proportion to His riches in glory (Phil 4:19). Our inner-man is made alive at our salvation by the Holy Spirit (2:5).
God’s Surpassing Love: 3:17-21.
Paul's main request is that the Spirit may strengthen our inner man more and more. (3:16). Christ may be enthroned in our hearts through faith that we being rooted and grounded in Christ’s love (3:17-19). We need inner strength to understand the unfathomable love of Christ. We must be rooted in Christ to receive nourishment and to become fruitful (John 15:1-5). We must be grounded in God’s love to remain faithful in times of trials and tribulations (Jude 1:21). God’s love is so vast that we need strength to comprehend it. It is more than head knowledge. Isolated Christians can never comprehend the depth of God’s love (Heb 10:24, 25). This love is the surpassing knowledge that fills us with the fullness of God (3:19; Rom 35-39). This happens when we are filled with the Holy Spirit (5:18). The measure of the fullness of God is, Christ himself (4:11-13). The resource is the grace of God. The channel is by faith. God’s love is immeasurable so that we can never understand it fully by human reasoning but only by the Holy Spirit. Someone has said “Our understanding of God’s love is partial and progressive. Its breadth extends to all people; its length extends to all time; its depth extends to the lowest sinner; its height extends to the highest heaven”. We will never know anything about Christianity until we know the love of Christ. Paul concludes his prayer by praising God for God’s steadfast love. Paul prays that Ephesians might know the mighty power that works in them to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think (3:20). This is the power that raised Christ from the dead. This is the power that saved us and keeps us from falling (Jude 1:24). We should never underestimate the power that works within us and in the church. Pray that God will grant us His power to become better followers of Christ. We spiritually grow only when this love fills our heart.