|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:8-12 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.
Verse 9. - And to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery. Another branch of his office, and another fruit of God's grace in conferring it. He was not only to benefit man, but also to vindicate God. For "fellowship of the mystery" (A.V.), the R.V. has "dispensation of the mystery," founded on the preference of the reading οἰκονομια, for which there is a great preponderance of authority over κοινωνία. It was the apostle's function to show how this mystery had been dispensed - concealed for a long time and at last revealed. Which from the beginning of the ages hath been hid in God. The counsel itself was πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων, before the foundation of the world; the concealment of it ἀπό τῶν αἰώνων, from the beginning of the ages, when there were intelligent beings capable of understanding it - whether angels or men. Whatever the angels may have known of the Divine plans, this feature of them was not known till revealed to the New Testament Church. Who created all things. The reason for adding this particular designation of God is not obvious; probably it is to indicate the relation of the matter in hand to the mightiest works of God. This is no trifling matter; it connects itself with God's grandest operations; it has supremely glorious bearings. It might be supposed to have relations only to one race and to one period of time; but it has relations to "all things;" it is an integral element in God's plan. The words, by Jesus Christ (A.V.), are not found in a great preponderance of textual authorities.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery,.... Or "the dispensation of the mystery" as the Complutensian, and several copies, and the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions, read. The mystery is the Gospel; the fellowship of it is the communication of grace by it, a participation of the truths and doctrines of it, communion with Father, Son, and Spirit, which the Gospel calls and leads unto, and that equal concern and interest which both Jews and Gentiles have in the privileges of it. Now men are naturally in the dark about these things, and the ministry of the word is the means of enlightening them, and is indeed the grand design of it; and the ministers of the Gospel do instrumentally enlighten persons, though it is God only that does it efficiently; and for this, gifts of grace were bestowed upon the apostle, even for the enlightening of all men, not every individual person in the world, but some of all sorts, particularly Gentiles, as well as Jews. The word rendered "all men", is left out in the Alexandrian copy.
Which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God; in the heart of God, in his counsel and covenant; which shows the original and source of the Gospel, and expresses the richness and valuableness of it, as well as its safety and secrecy: here it was hid in some measure from the elect angels, and from Old Testament saints, and altogether from natural men, and especially from the Gentiles, whose times of ignorance God winked at, or overlooked: and this was kept so from ages past, from the beginning of time, till now, and was laid up in the breast of God from all eternity; for it was ordained before the world for the glory, of his people. What the apostle says of the Gospel, the Jews say of the law, that it was hid and treasured up two thousand years before the world was created (m); yea, they say (n), that many ages before the creation of the world it was written and left, , "in the bosom of God": and he is here described, as he
who created all things by Jesus Christ; not as an instrument, but as a co-efficient cause: and this is to be understood, not of the new creation, but of the old, and of all things in it; for without Christ, was not anything made that is made. The phrase, "by Jesus Christ", is left out in the Alexandrian and Claromontane copies, and in the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions.
(m) Zohar in Exod. fol. 20. 4. & in Numb. fol. 66. 3. Targ. Jon. & Jeras. in Genesis 3.24. (n) Abot R. Nathan, c. 31. T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 88. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
9. to make all men see—Greek, "to enlighten all" (Eph 1:18; Ps 18:28; Heb 6:4). "All" (compare Col 1:28).
fellowship—The oldest manuscripts read, "economy," or "dispensation" (compare Col 1:25, 26; and see on Eph 1:10, above). "To make all see how it hath seemed good to God at this time to dispense (through me and others, His stewards) what heretofore was a mystery." Ellicott explains it, "the arrangement," or "regulation" of the mystery (the union of Jews and Gentiles in Christ) which was now to be humbly traced and acknowledged in the fact of its having secretly existed in the counsel of God, and now having been revealed to the heavenly powers by means of the Church.
from the beginning of the world—Greek, "from (the beginning of) the ages." Compare Eph 1:4; Ro 16:25; 1Co 2:7. The "ages" are the vast successive periods of time, marked by successive stages of creation and orders of beings.
in God—"hidden in" His counsels (Eph 1:9).
created all things by Jesus Christ—God's creation of the world and all things therein is the foundation of the rest of the "economy," which is freely dispensed according to the universal power of God [Bengel]. AS God created "the whole range of things" (so the Greek), physical and spiritual alike, He must have an absolute right to adjust all things as He will. Hence, we may see His right to keep the mystery of world-wide salvation in Christ "hidden in Himself," till his own good time for revealing it. The oldest manuscripts omit "by Jesus Christ."
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