Ephesians 3:1
For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,
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-1Ephesians 3:1-13 contain two subjects closely blended together. The first (carrying on what is implied in the contrast drawn out in Ephesians 2) is the absolute newness of this dispensation to the Gentiles—a mystery hidden from the beginning in God, but now at last revealed. The second, an emphatic claim for St. Paul himself, “less than the least” although he is, of a special apostleship to the Gentiles, proclaiming this mystery by word and deed.

(1) For this cause . . .—After much discussion of the construction of this verse, there seems little doubt that the nominative, “I, Paul,” must be carried on beyond the digression upon the mystery of the gospel, and his part in ministering it, which follows. The only question which can well be raised is whether the resumption takes place at Ephesians 3:13, “I desire that ye faint not;” or at Ephesians 3:14, “I bow my knees;” and this seems decided for the latter alternative, both by the emphatic repetition of “for this cause,” and by the far greater weight and finality of the latter sentence.

The prisoner of Jesus Christ.—The phrase (repeated in Ephesians 4:1; Philemon 1:9; 2Timothy 1:8) is dwelt upon with an emphasis, explained by St. Paul’s conviction that “his bonds” tended to “the furtherance of the gospel”—not merely by exciting a sympathy which might open the heart to his words, but even more (see Philippians 1:13-14) by showing the victorious power of God’s word and grace—which “is not bound”—to triumph over captivity and the danger of death. The expression itself is notable. When St. Paul calls himself the “prisoner of Jesus Christ,” he represents our Lord’s own will, as ordaining his captivity for His own transcendent purposes of good, making him an “ambassador in chains” (Ephesians 6:20), and these “the bonds of the gospel.” (See Philemon 1:13; and Acts 28:20, “For the hope of Israel I am bound in this chain.”) Hence in this passage St. Paul seems to speak of his captivity as a special proof of the reality of his mission, and a new step in its progress; and appeals to it accordingly, just as in the final salutation of the Colossian Epistle, “Remember my bonds.” The whole idea is a striking instance of the spiritual alchemy of faith, turning all things to good—not unlike the magnificent passage (in 2Corinthians 11:23-30) of his “glorying in his infirmities.”

For you Gentiles.—This was literally true of the origin of his captivity, proceeding as it did from the jealousy of the Jews, excited by the free admission of the Gentiles to the Church; but the reference is not to be limited to this. St. Paul regards the captivity as only one incident in a mission sending him entirely to the Gentiles (Acts 21:21; Romans 11:13; Galatians 2:9). From these words the digression of Ephesians 3:2-13 starts, bringing out the reality and greatness of that mission.

Ephesians 3:1-7. For this cause — That you may be so built up together, and made the temple of God, and his habitation through the Spirit; I bow my knees, &c., see Ephesians 3:14, with which the words are evidently closely connected, (as they are also with the close of the preceding chapters) the subsequent paragraph to the end of Ephesians 3:13 manifestly coming in by way of parenthesis. I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles — For your advantage, for asserting your right to these blessings. This it was which so much enraged the Jews against him. If ye have heard — Or, seeing ye have heard, as ειγε ηκουσατε may be properly rendered; and being so rendered will be very applicable to the Ephesians, who, no doubt, were well acquainted with Paul’s apostolical commission. Here, by way of digression, the apostle sets forth the nature and dignity of his apostolical office toward the Gentiles, as in Romans 11:13. Of the dispensation of the grace of God — For the meaning of the word οικονομια, here rendered dispensation, see note on Ephesians 1:10. It here means the authority and commission given him to declare the doctrine of the grace of God to the Gentiles, as displayed in the gospel; which is given me to you- ward — Which office is committed to me chiefly with relation to you Gentiles, to be employed for your edification; how that by revelation, see (Acts 26:16-17,) and not by the instrumentality of any human testimony; he made known to me the mystery — Which had so long been concealed, namely, that salvation by Christ alone was free for both the Jews and Gentiles; as I wrote afore — Namely, chap. Ephesians 1:9-10; in few words — The very words of which passage he here repeats. The apostle does not appear to mean that he had written of the mystery in a few words, for the greatest part of the preceding chapters is taken up in explaining that mystery; but his meaning seems to be, that he had written before in a few words concerning the discovery of the mystery to him by revelation. The mystery which in other ages was not made known — So clearly and fully; unto the sons of men — No, not to the Jews themselves; (see on Matthew 13:17;) as it is now revealed — In consequence of the death and resurrection of Christ; unto his holy apostles and prophets — Namely, of the New Testament: see on 1 Corinthians 12:28. That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs — With the believing Jews, (Galatians 3:29,) and Christ himself, (Romans 8:17,) of the heavenly inheritance; and of the same body — Under Christ the head, or incorporated in the true church; and partakers of his promise — Of pardon, adoption, the renewing of the Holy Ghost and eternal life; in Christ — Purchased by him, and enjoyed by virtue of your union with him; in the gospel — Preached to you. Whereof I was made a minister — When first called by Christ himself appearing to me for that purpose; according to the gift of the grace of God — To which office he raised me, not through any worthiness of mine, but of his free grace; given unto me — In a most extraordinary and remarkable manner; by the effectual working of his power — Which conquered my prejudices, enlightened my understanding, changed my heart, and prepared and qualified me for that high and holy office, averse as I once was to all the purposes of it.3:1-7 For having preached the doctrine of truth, the apostle was a prisoner, but a prisoner of Jesus Christ; the object of special protection and care, while thus suffering for him. All the gracious offers of the gospel, and the joyful tidings it contains, come from the rich grace of God; it is the great means by which the Spirit works grace in the souls of men. The mystery, is that secret, hidden purpose of salvation through Christ. This was not so fully and clearly shown in the ages before Christ, as unto the prophets of the New Testament. This was the great truth made known to the apostle, that God would call the Gentiles to salvation by faith in Christ. An effectual working of Divine power attends the gifts of Divine grace. As God appointed Paul to the office, so he qualified him for it.For this cause - On account of preaching this doctrine; that is, the doctrine that the gospel was to be proclaimed to the Gentiles.

I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ - A prisoner in the service of the Lord Jesus; or made a prisoner in his cause. Not a prisoner for crime or debt, or as a captive in war, but a captive in the service of the Redeemer. This proves that at the time of writing this, Paul was in bonds, and there can he no question that he was in Rome. This would be more correctly rendered, "For this cause I, Paul, am the prisoner," etc. So Tyndale renders it, "For this cause I, Paul, the servant of Jesus, am in bonds." So also Locke, Rosenmuller, Doddridge, Whitby, Koppe, and others understand it. By this construction the abruptness now manifest in our common version is avoided.

For you Gentiles - Made a prisoner at Rome on your behalf, because I maintained that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles; see Acts 22:21-23. He was taken first to Cesarea, and then to Rome. The cause of his imprisonment and of all his difficulties was, that he maintained that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles; that when the Jews rejected it God rejected them; and that he was specially called to carry the message of salvation to the pagan world.


Eph 3:1-21. His Apostolic Office to Make Known the Mystery of Christ Revealed by the Spirit: Prayer that by the Same Spirit They May Comprehend the Vast Love of Christ: Doxology Ending This Division of the Epistle.

As the first chapter treated of THE Father's office; and the second, THE Son's, so this, that of THE Spirit.

1. of Jesus Christ—Greek, "Christ Jesus." The office is the prominent thought in the latter arrangement; the person, in the former. He here marks the Messiahship of "Christ," maintained by him as the origin of his being a "prisoner," owing to the jealousy of the Jews being roused at his preaching it to the Gentiles. His very bonds were profitable to ("for" or "in behalf of you") Gentiles (Eph 3:13; 2Ti 2:10). He digresses at "For this cause," and does not complete the sentence which he had intended, until Eph 3:14, where he resumes the words, "For this cause," namely, because I know this your call of God as Gentiles (Eph 2:11-22), to be "fellow-heirs" with the Jews (Eph 3:6), "I bow my knees to" the Father of our common Saviour (Eph 3:14, 15) to confirm you in the faith by His Spirit. "I Paul," expresses the agent employed by the Spirit to enlighten them, after he had been first enlightened himself by the same Spirit (Eph 3:3-5, 9).Ephesians 3:1-6 Paul, in bonds for preaching Christ to the Gentiles,

showeth that the mystery of their calling, heretofore

hidden, had been revealed to him,

Ephesians 3:7-12 that by his ministry God’s gracious purpose might be

universally known, and the Gentiles be assured of

their acceptance by faith.

Ephesians 3:13 He desireth his Ephesian converts not to be

discouraged at his sufferings on their account,

Ephesians 3:14-19 and prayeth that God would strengthen their faith and

knowledge of the infinite love of Christ.

Ephesians 3:20,21 He giveth glory to God for his power in the church by

Christ Jesus.

For this cause; i.e. that ye may be further confirmed in the faith of Christ, and more and more built up in him as an habitation of God, Ephesians 2:22.

The prisoner of Jesus Christ; for Christ’s sake, for asserting his cause and honour: see 2 Timothy 1:8 Philemon 1:1,9.

For you Gentiles; for your cause and salvation; having preached and declared the grace of God to be free, and to belong to you Gentiles as well as to the Jews, (the middle wall of partition being taken away), and so equalled you with them. There is no small difference among expositors about the connection of these words: the fairest and easiest seems to be, either:

1. That the substantive verb am be here supplied, and the word read, I Paul am

the prisoner of Jesus Christ; q.d. I have for some time been and still am the prisoner of Jesus Christ. Or:

2. That this verse be joined to the Ephesians 3:14, (all the rest, Ephesians 3:2-13, being included in a parenthesis), where he begins with the same words as here; and so we may read it thus, Ephesians 3:1:

For this cause I Paul, the prisoner, & c.; and then, Ephesians 3:14, I say: For this cause I bow my knees, &c., viz. praying that ye may be strengthened with might hy his Spirit, &c.; i.e. that they might be more and more built up on Christ, on whom they were founded, and had begun to be built.

For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ,.... Not actively, whom Christ had apprehended by his grace, and made a prisoner of hope; but passively, who was made a prisoner for Christ, on account of preaching Christ, and his Gospel: he was not a prisoner for any capital crime, as theft, murder, &c. and therefore be was not ashamed of his bonds, but rather glories in them; and a prison has often been the portion of the best of men in this world: from hence we learn, that this epistle was written when the apostle was a prisoner at Rome; and the consideration of this his condition serves much to confirm the truths he had before delivered, seeing they were such as he could, and did suffer for; and which must engage the attention of the Ephesians to them, and especially since his sufferings were on their account:

for you Gentiles: because he preached the Gospel to the Gentiles, which the Jews forbid, that they might not be saved; and because he taught them, that circumcision and the rest of the ceremonies of the law were not binding upon them; which gave great offence to the Jews, who were the means of bringing of him into these circumstances, and particularly the Asiatic Jews, the Jews of Ephesus; who having seen and heard him there, knew him again when in the temple at Jerusalem, and raised a mob upon him, having bore a grudge against him for his ministry at Ephesus, by which means he became a prisoner; so that he might truly say, he was a prisoner for the sake of them; see Acts 21:27. One of Stevens's copies adds, "am an ambassador", as in Ephesians 6:20 and another of them, "glory", or "rejoice"; see Philippians 2:16.

For {1} this cause I Paul, {a} the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,

(1) He maintains his apostleship against the offence of the cross, upon which he also makes an argument to confirm himself, affirming that he was not only appointed an apostle by the mercy of God, but was also appointed particularly to the Gentiles. And this was to call them everywhere to salvation, because God had so determined this from the beginning, although he deferred a great while the manifestation of his counsel.

(a) These words, the prisoner of Jesus Christ, are taken passively, that is to say, I, Paul, am cast into prison for maintaining the glory of Christ.

Ephesians 3:1. On this account, namely, in order that ye may be built unto the dwelling of God by means of the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22),—on this behalf, that your Christian development may advance towards that goal, am I, Paul, the fettered one of Christ Jesus for the sake of you, the Gentiles. The position of Paul in fetters on account of his labours as the apostle of the Gentiles[164] could only exert a beneficial influence upon the development of the Christian life of his churches, as edifying and elevating for them (comp. Ephesians 3:13), as, on the other hand, it must have redounded as a scandal to them, if he had withdrawn from the persecutions (Galatians 6:12; 2 Corinthians 11:23 ff.; Php 2:17 f.). Hence the τούτου χάριν emphatically prefixed.

ἐγὼ Παῦλος] in the consciousness of his personal authority (comp. 2 Corinthians 10:1; Galatians 5:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:18; Colossians 1:23; Philemon 1:9), which the bonds could not weaken, but only exalt (2 Corinthians 11:23 ff.).

ὁ δέσμιος τοῦ Ἰ. Χ.] The article denotes the bound one of Christ κατʼ ἐξοχήν, such as Paul could not but, in accordance with his special relation to Christ (Galatians 1:1; Galatians 6:17), appear to himself and others. The genitive expresses the author of the being bound. Comp. 2 Timothy 1:8; Philemon 1:9. See Winer, p. 170 [E. T. 236]. Paul regards himself, in keeping with the consciousness of his entire dependence on Christ (as δοῦλος Χριστοῦ), as the one whom Christ has put in chains.

As regards the construction, by many the simple εἰμί is rightly supplied after ὁ δέσμιος τοῦ Χρ. . (Syriac, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Erasmus, Cajetanus, Beza, Elsner, Calovius, Wolf, Michaelis, Paraphr.; Moras, Koppe, Rosenmüller, and others), so that ὁ δέσμιος τοῦ Χ. . is predicate, in connection with which some have neglected the article, others have rightly had regard to it (see especially Beza). He is, however, the δέσμιος of Christ on behalf of the Gentiles; and this thought leads him in the sequel to explain himself more fully regarding his vocation as Apostle of the Gentiles, whereupon he only briefly returns to the point of his imprisonment in Ephesians 3:13, after having been led away from it by the detailed exposition of the theme, to which he had been incited by the ὑπὲρ τῶν ἐθνῶν. Free movement of thought natural in a letter. Supplementary additions, such as legatione fungor (Ambrosiaster, Castalio, Calvin, Vatablus), or hoc scribo (Camerarius, and the like),[165] are not implied in the context, and are therefore erroneous. Others have regarded the discourse as broken off, and have found the resumption either at Ephesians 3:8 (Oecumenius, Grotius), or at Ephesians 3:13 (Zanchius, Cramer, Holzhausen), or at Ephesians 3:14 (Theodoret, Luther, Piscator, Calixtus, Cornelius a Lapide, Estius, Homberg, Schöttgen, Bengel, Baumgarten, and others, including Flatt, Lachmann, Rückert, Winer, Matthies, Harless, Olshausen, Bisping, Bleek; de Wette, characterizing this construction as “hardly Pauline”), or only at Ephesians 4:1 (Erasmus Schmid, Hammond, Michaelis in note to his translation). But all these hypotheses are—inasmuch as, according to the above explanation, Ephesians 3:1 in itself yields with ease and linguistic correctness a complete and suitable sense—unnecessary complications of the discourse. Baumgarten-Crusius regards the discourse as entirely broken off under the pressure of the crowding thoughts, so that it is not at all resumed in the sequel.

After Ephesians 3:1 only a comma is to be placed.

[164] “Quia gentes Judaeis adaequabat, incidit in suorum popularium odium,” Drusius. Comp. Grotius, Calovius.

[165] Already in early witnesses supplementary additions are met with in the text: πρεσβεύω in D* E 10, followed by Castalio and Calvin; postulo in Clar., Germ.; κεκαύχημαι in 71, 219, al.Ephesians 3:1-13. These verses make a paragraph by themselves. Their main subject is the call of the Gentiles and Paul’s Apostolic vocation in relation thereto. He reminds his readers of the mystery of that call, its revelation to the Apostles and prophets, his own destination to the ministry of preaching among the Gentiles, and the grace given him to make known the Divine dispensation that opened the Church to those who were not of Israel. This with the view that they should not misunderstand his present position or be discouraged by it.Ch. Ephesians 3:1-13. He would pursue the subject of the Temple, but digresses to say more of the world-wide scope of the Gospel

For this cause] With such a present and such a future for my reason, motive, hope. Here begins a sentence broken immediately by a great digression. Where is it resumed? At Ephesians 3:8, or at Ephesians 3:13, or at Ephesians 3:14? On the whole we decide for the latter, not only because the identical phrase “for this cause” recurs there, but because the thought of the Indweller, and the Foundation (“grounded,” Ephesians 3:17), recurs there also. It is thus as if the Apostle had been just about to pray that the great Lord of the Temple might take a new (an ever new) possession of the Edifice preparing for Him; but had been diverted, by the designation he gives himself, to speak at large of his Gentile commission. For a parenthesis on the like scale see the latter half of Romans 5. Such deviations into side-fields of pregnant thought are characteristic of some minds of high calibre; and we are never to forget that while it is everywhere the Inspirer who speaks through the Apostle, He as truly uses the Apostle’s type of mind as He uses the Greek type of language to be His perfect vehicle of expression.

I Paul] For a similar emphatic Ego, cp. 2 Corinthians 10:1; Galatians 5:2; Colossians 1:23; Philemon 1:19. (1 Thessalonians 2:18 is not quite in point, nor the passages, Colossians 4:18; 2 Thessalonians 3:17; where he speaks of his autograph name.) The motive here seems to be the profound personal interest of the Apostle in his great commission, brought to the surface by the statement he has just made of the grandeur of its issue in the completion of the Temple of the Universal Church. “It is I, positively I, who am, wonderful to say, chief minister in the process.” And there may also be the emphasis of intense personal interest in the Ephesian converts; a loving pressure, so to speak, of his personality upon theirs.—On the “self-consciousness” of St Paul, see Howson, Character of St Paul, Lect. II.

the prisoner of Jesus Christ] So Philemon 1:1; Philemon 1:9; 2 Timothy 1:8; and below, Ephesians 4:1, with an interesting difference, which see. Our Epistle thus stands grouped with Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, 2 Timothy, as an Epistle written from prison.—“Of Jesus Christ:—under all aspects of life Paul belongs to Christ. Whatever he is, does, or suffers, it is as Christ’s property. There is also an obvious reference to the fact that his imprisonment was for Christ’s cause; but this is not all.

for you] On behalf of you. See Acts 22:21 for illustration. His imprisonment, due to Jewish hostility, was thus ultimately due to his assertion of the free welcome of the Gentiles to Messiah’s covenant. Acts 15 records the crisis within the Church which corresponded to this assault from without.Ephesians 3:1. Τούτου χάριν) for this cause. This subject is resumed at Ephesians 3:14. [Such is the rich abundance of the apostolic spirit.—V. g.]—ὁ δέσμιος) The ambassador, and he too bound [a prisoner].—ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, for you) The persecutors were incensed against Paul’s zeal in behalf of the Gentiles, so that they imprisoned him; and his very bonds were profitable to the Gentiles, Ephesians 3:13; 2 Timothy 2:10.—τῶν ἐθνῶν, for the Gentiles) This is explained in the following verses.Verses 1-13. - DIGRESSION ON THE ADMISSION OF THE GENTILES TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD. Verse 1. - For this cause. The reference is not merely to the last statement or illustration, but to the whole view of the purpose of God toward the Gentiles unfolded in Ephesians it. The apodosis does not come in till ver. 14, at the beginning of which this conjunctive clause is repeated. I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles. He introduces himself in order to make known the feelings which were roused in his soul towards them by the consideration of the privileges just enlarged on - especially to acquaint them with the prayers he offered for them (see vers. 14-19), and apparently with the indirect object of getting them to offer similar prayers for themselves. To justify this introduction of himself, he delicately introduces the fact of his being a prisoner on their behalf. What had brought him to Rome, what had made him appeal to Caesar, was his preaching the gospel to the Gentiles; indeed, the immediate occasion of his arrest at Jerusalem was the suspicion that he had taken Trophimus, an Ephesian, one of themselves, into the temple (Acts 21:29). By this allusion to the condition into which his regard for them had brought him, be conciliates sympathetic consideration of what is to follow. For this cause

Seeing ye are so builded together.

Of Christ Jesus (τοῦ Χριστοῦ Ἱησοῦ)

Notice the article, the Christ, and see on Ephesians 2:13.


To whom Paul was expressly sent, and in preaching to whom he had fallen into the hands of the civil law.

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