Ephesians 3:13
Why I desire that you faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) Wherefore I desire . . .—The verse is parenthetical—a reflection suggested by the greatness of the trust and the littleness of the minister dwelt upon in Ephesians 3:8-12, and inserted as a warning to the Ephesians not to be disheartened at the present “tribulation” of his imprisonment, as if it were a failure of his mission. (See this idea more fully worked out in Philippians 1:12-29.) “To faint” (as in 2Corinthians 4:1; 2Corinthians 4:16; Galatians 6:9; 2Thessalonians 3:13) is “to play the coward,” as “thinking it (see 1Peter 4:12-13) a strange thing” that trouble should fall on him or them. It might well seem strange, when for four years at least, at Cæsarea and Rome, the marvellous activity of St. Paul’s Apostolic career was apparently cut short.

At my tribulations for you, which is your glory.—There is a peculiar beauty in the thought suggested by the words “which is your glory.” The suffering, triumphantly borne and actually turned to the furtherance of the gospel, is certainly a “glory,” in the proof which it gives of the power of the truth and the grace of Christ. But the more obvious idea would have been to comfort the Ephesians by the declaration that St. Paul’s tribulations were to himself a cause, not of pain, but of joy and glory—as is, in fact, done in Colossians 1:24, and in the celebrated passage, 2Corinthians 11:23-31. Here, however, instead of so doing, St. Paul pursues the same line of thought as in 1Corinthians 4:10—there half ironically, here seriously—that, while the suffering falls on himself, the glory passes to the Church, for which he suffers, and in which he is content to sink himself. Hence he bids the Ephesians find encouragement and glory for themselves, instead of a cause for “fainting,” in the afflictions endured on their behalf and overcome in Christ. As he identifies himself with them, so he would have them take what might be his glory to be their own.

Ephesians 3:13-16. Wherefore — Since by my ministry you have been called to the fellowship of the gospel; I desire that ye faint not — Be not discouraged or disheartened; at my tribulations for preaching the gospel to you, which is your glory — A cause of glorying and rejoicing to you, inasmuch as hereby it appears how much God regards you, in that he not only sends his apostles to preach the gospel to you, but to do this notwithstanding the great variety of extreme sufferings to which they are hereby exposed. For this cause — That ye may not faint, either on account of my sufferings or your own, and that the great work in which I am engaged may more successfully be carried on, and the purposes of these my sufferings maybe answered in your consolation and the divine glory; I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ — I present my sincere and ardent supplications before him. Or rather, the apostle here returns to the subject which he began in Ephesians 3:1, (where see the note,) the intervening verses coming in by way of parenthesis. Of whom — The Father; the whole family of angels in heaven — Saints in paradise, and believers on earth, is named — Are acknowledged by him as his children, a more honourable title than children of Abraham; and acknowledge their dependance upon, and relation to him. Or, in the family here spoken of, all rational beings in heaven and earth may be considered as included, because they derive their being from him, and are supported by him. That he would grant you according to the riches of his glory — The immense fulness of his glorious wisdom, power, mercy, and love; to be strengthened with might — Or mightily strengthened, that is, endowed with courage, fortitude, and power, to withstand all your spiritual enemies, to do with cheerfulness, and suffer with patience, his whole will; by his Spirit — the great source of all power and might, grace and goodness; in the inner man — The soul.3:13-19 The apostle seems to be more anxious lest the believers should be discouraged and faint upon his tribulations, than for what he himself had to bear. He asks for spiritual blessings, which are the best blessings. Strength from the Spirit of God in the inner man; strength in the soul; the strength of faith, to serve God, and to do our duty. If the law of Christ is written in our hearts, and the love of Christ is shed abroad there, then Christ dwells there. Where his Spirit dwells, there he dwells. We should desire that good affections may be fixed in us. And how desirable to have a fixed sense of the love of God in Christ to our souls! How powerfully the apostle speaks of the love of Christ! The breadth shows its extent to all nations and ranks; the length, that it continues from everlasting to everlasting; the depth, its saving those who are sunk into the depths of sin and misery; the height, its raising them up to heavenly happiness and glory. Those who receive grace for grace from Christ's fulness, may be said to be filled with the fulness of God. Should not this satisfy man? Must he needs fill himself with a thousand trifles, fancying thereby to complete his happiness?Wherefore I desire that ye faint not - The connection here is this. Paul was then a prisoner at Rome. He had been made such in consequence of his efforts to diffuse the Christian religion among the Gentiles; see the notes at Ephesians 3:1. His zeal in this cause, and the opinions which he held on this subject, had roused the wrath of the Jews, and led to all the calamities which he was now suffering. Of that the Ephesians. he supposes, were aware. It was natural that they should be distressed at his sufferings, for all his privations were endured on their account. But here he tells them not to be troubled and disheartened. He was indeed suffering; but he was reconciled to it, and they should be also, since it was promoting their welfare. The word rendered "faint" - ἐκκακέω egkakeō - means literally, to turn out "a coward," or to lose one's courage; then to be fainthearted, etc.; notes, 2 Corinthians 4:1. It is rendered "faint" in Luke 18:1; 2 Corinthians 4:1, 2 Corinthians 4:16; Ephesians 3:13, and "weary" in Galatians 6:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:13. It does not elsewhere occur. It is rendered here by Locke "dismayed." Koppe supposes it means that they should not suppose that the Christian religion was vain and false because he was suffering so much from his countrymen on account of it. But it rather means that they might be in danger of being discouraged by the fact that "he" was enduring so much. They might become disheartened in their attachment to a system of religion which exposed its friends to such calamities. Paul tells them that this ought not to follow. They were to be profited by all his sufferings, and they should, therefore, hold fast to a religion which was attended with so many benefits to them - though he should suffer.

Which is your glory - Which tends to your honor and welfare. You have occasion to rejoice that you have a friend who is willing thus to suffer for you; you have occasion to rejoice in all the benefits which will result to you from, his trials in your behalf.

13. "I entreat you not to be dispirited."

for you—in your behalf.

which is—rather, "which are your glory," namely, inasmuch as showing that God loved you so much, as both to give His Son for you, and to permit His apostles to suffer "tribulations" for you [Chrysostom] in preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles. See on [2366]Eph 3:1, "prisoner for you Gentiles." My tribulations are your spiritual "glory," as your faith is furthered thereby (1Co 4:10).

Wherefore I desire; I pray you. This is an exhortation to the Ephesians, not a prayer to God, for that follows, Ephesians 3:14.

That ye faint not at my tribulations for you; the truth I have preached to you being the cause of my sufferings, and your salvation (to which they tend as a means to confirm your faith) being the end of them.

Which is your glory; either he means, that their not fainting, or not falling away from Christ, by reason of his sufferings, was their glory; or rather, that his sufferings were their glory, in that he did by them seal the truth of the doctrine he had preached, being still ready to suffer for what he delivered to them. Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you,.... The apostle was a man attended with many tribulations, and great afflictions, which he did not suffer as an evildoer, either from God or men; wherefore he was not ashamed of them, but gloried in them; yea, he took pleasure in them, having much of the presence of God in them; they did not come to him unawares, he always expected them, and was helped to look to the glory which should follow them, the view of which greatly supported him under them; and these tribulations were endured for the sake of the elect, for Christ's body's sake; the church, and among others, for the Ephesians, for the sake of preaching the Gospel among them, and for the confirmation of their faith in it; and yet they were a stumbling to them, they were ready to faint at them; but he desires they would not, since they were on account of the Gospel, which he had such a distinct knowledge of, and so clear a call to; and since they were for their sakes, and since he and they had such nearness of access to God by the faith of Christ, with so much boldness and confidence; and seeing also they turned to their account: which is your glory; meaning either that it was matter of glorying to them, and what they might boast of, that the apostle's afflictions were not for any crime that was found in him, but for preaching the Gospel to them, and that it was an honour to suffer in such a cause; or that their perseverance and constancy in the doctrines of the Gospel, notwithstanding the scandal of the cross, would be an honour to them. Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ephesians 3:13. Once more reviewing the whole section concerning the great contents of his office as apostle of the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:2-12), he concludes it, in especial retrospective reference to the introduction thereof (Ephesians 3:1), with the entreaty to the readers not to become discouraged, etc., in order thereupon yet further to attach to Ephesians 3:14 ff. a rich outpouring of intercession for them, which terminates in an enthusiastic doxology (Ephesians 3:20 f.). According to this view, δίο has its reference not merely in Ephesians 3:12, but in the whole of what Paul has said, Ephesians 3:2-12, regarding his office, namely: On that account, because so great and blissful a task has by God’s grace been assigned to me in my calling, I entreat you, etc. The greater the office conferred by God, the less does it become those whom it concerns to take offence or become downcast at the sufferings and persecutions of its holder.

μὴ ἐκκακεῖν] applies to the readers: that ye become not disheartened, fainthearted and cowardly in the confession of the gospel,—not to Paul: that I become not disheartened, as Syriac, Theodoret, Jerome, Bengel, Semler, and others, including Rückert, Harless, Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius, take it. In opposition to the latter, it may be urged that the supplying of Θεόν after αἰτοῦμαι, demanded in connection therewith, is in no wise indicated by the context, which rather in the bare αἰτοῦμαι, (comp. 2 Corinthians 5:20; 2 Corinthians 10:2) conveys only the idea of a request to the readers (it is otherwise at Colossians 1:9; Jam 1:6). Further, ἥτις ἐστὶ δόξα ὑμῶν manifestly contains a motive for the readers, to fulfil that which Paul entreats. Only from τούτου χάριν, Ephesians 3:14, begins an intercession for the readers, that God may strengthen them.[180] The μου, finally, after ΘΛΊΨΕΣΙ is wholly superfluous, if Paul is imploring constancy for himself; but not, if he is beseeching the readers not to become fainthearted, while he is suffering for them.

As to the form ἐγκακεῖν in Lachmann, Tischendorf, and Rückert, see on 2 Corinthians 4:1.

ἘΝ ΤΑῖς ΘΛΊΨΕΣΊ ΜΟΥ ὙΠῈΡ ὙΜ.] in the tribulations which I endure for your sake (namely, as apostle of the Gentiles). Comp. Paul’s own so touching comment upon this ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, in Php 2:17. The ἘΝ denotes the subsisting relation, in which their courage is not to give way. See Winer, p. 346 [E. T. 483]. To this conception the explanation on account of (Erasmus, Beza, Piscator, Estius, and others) is also to be referred, ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν is rightly attached, without repetition of the article, to ΤΑῖς ΘΛΊΨ. ΜΟΥ, because one may say ΘΛΊΒΕΣΘΑΙ ὙΠΈΡ ΤΙΝΟς (2 Corinthians 1:6; comp. Colossians 1:24). Comp. on Galatians 4:14. Harless connects ὙΠῈΡ ὙΜ. with ΑἸΤΟῦΜΑΙ: I pray for your benefit. How violently opposed to the order of the words, and, with the right view of αἰτοῦμαι, impossible!

ἭΤΙς ἘΣΤῚ ΔΌΞΑ ὙΜῶΝ] is designed to animate to the fulfilment of the entreaty, so that ἭΤΙς introduces an explanation serving as a motive thereto (Herm. ad Oed. R. 688; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 385), not equivalent to , but referring what is predicated “ad ipsam rei naturam” (Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. p. 190), like qui quidem, quippe qui, utpote qui. ἥτις may be referred either to the ΜῊ ἘΚΚΑΚΕῖΝ (Theodoret, Zanchius, Harless, Olshausen, Schenkel) or to ΤΑῖς ΘΛΊΨΕΣΊ ΜΟΥ ὙΠῈΡ ὙΜῶΝ (so usually). In either case the relative is attracted by the following δόξα, and this not as Hebraizing (Beza, Matthies, and many), but as a Greek usage. Comp. as regards the ordinary exegesis, according to which the number also is attracted, Dem. c. Aphob. p. 853. 31: ἔχειὀγδόηκοντα μὲν μνᾶς, ἢν ἔλαβε προῖκα τῆς μητρός; and see, in general, Winer, p. 150 [E. T. 206]. The usual reference is the right one; the sufferings of the apostle for the readers were a glory of the latter, it redounded to their honour that he suffered for them,[181] and this relation could not but raise them far above the ἐκκακεῖν, else they would not have accorded with the thought brought to their consciousness by the ἥτις ἐστὶ δόξα ὑμῶν. The referring of ἥτις to μὴ ἐκκακεῖν is inconsistent with the correct explanation of the latter (see above); for if Paul had said that it was glorious for the readers not to grow faint, he would either have given expression to a very general and commonplace thought, or else to one of which the specific contents must first be mentally supplied (gloria spiritualis); whereas the proposition: “my tribulations are your glory,” is in a high degree appropriate alike to the ingenious mode of expression, and to the apostolic sense of personal dignity, in which is implied a holy pride. Comp. Php 2:17.

[180] Harless finds, with Rhenferd (in Wolf), the connection: “ut Proverbs se primum, tum Proverbs Ephesiis oret.” But this change of the persons would have needed to be indicated by emphatic pronouns, if it were not to be looked upon as imported.

[181] This assertion stands in correct connection with his high apostolic position. That the apostle as δέσμιος τοῦ Χριστοῦ suffered for the Gentile-Christians, could only redound to the honour of the latter, inasmuch as they could not but appear of the higher value, the more he did not refuse to undergo afflictions for them. This we remark in opposition not only to Rückert, who finds it most advisable to leave the contents of the clause indefinite, in order not to deprive it of its oratorical significance, but also in opposition to Harless and Olshausen, who are of opinion that the sufferings of the apostle could not in themselves be any glory for the Gentile-Christians. They are so on account of the dignity of the sufferer, and of his relation to those for whose sake he suffered.Ephesians 3:13. διὸ αἰτοῦμαι μὴ ἐγκακεῖν ἐν ταῖς θλίψεσί μου ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν: wherefore I ask that ye lose not heart in my tribulations in your behalf. The διό is referred by some (Mey., etc.) to the immediately preceding verse, the possession of these great privileges of “boldness and access” on the part of the Ephesians being Paul’s reason for urging on them the request which follows. It is better, however, to refer the διό to the great thought of the whole paragraph, to which the statement in Ephesians 3:12 is subordinate, viz., the dignity of the office committed to Paul and its significance for them. Because the great trust of the Apostleship among the Gentiles is what he has declared it to be for himself and for them, he puts this request before them. The αἰτεῖν, which sometimes expresses a demand (Luke 1:63; 1 Corinthians 1:22), has the simple sense of asking here; and in such connections as the present αἰτοῦμαι has the full sense of asking for one’s self. It is followed sometimes by the acc. and inf. (Luke 23:23; Acts 3:14), and sometimes, as here, by the simple inf. (Acts 7:46). The idea in the verb ἐγκακεῖν is that of losing courage, becoming faint of heart. The form ἐκκακεῖν, which is given in the TR, appears in [309] [310]3[311] [312] [313], etc. It is doubtful, however, whether that form occurs anywhere in ordinary Greek. It may have had a place in popular, oral use. The written form was ἐγκακεῖν, and that form appears here in most of the best MSS. ([314] [315] [316] [317]1, etc.). Hence LTrRV adopt ἐγκακεῖν; TWH, ἐνκακεῖν. But what is the construction here? Some supply Θεόν, and make the sense either (1) “I pray God that ye faint not,” or (2) “I pray God that I faint not”. But if the subject of the αἰτοῦμαι had been God, the Θεόν could scarcely have been omitted, as there is nothing in the context clearly to suggest it. And that it is the readers, not Paul himself, whose possible faint-heartedness is referred to appears from the force of the ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν and the ἥτις ἐστὶ δόξα ὑμῶν. Paul himself rejoiced in his tribulations (2 Corinthians 12:5; 2 Corinthians 12:10 : Colossians 1:24, etc.), and a prayer in such circumstances as the present betraying any fear about himself would be utterly unlike him. But he might have cause enough to apprehend that these converts might not all view painful things as he did. Hence ὑμᾶς is to be understood as the subject of αἰτοῦμαι (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:20; Hebrews 13:19). The ἐν before θλίψεσι has the proper sense of in (not “at” as RV puts it), pointing to the circumstances, sphere, or relation in which the faint-heartedness ought not to show itself (cf. Win.-Moult., pp. 482, 483, and Ell., in loc.). These θλίψεις were ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν (the phrase ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν going surely with the θλίψεσί μου, not with αἰτοῦμαι as Harless strangely puts it), as sufferings endured in virtue of Paul’s Apostleship among the Gentiles; cf. Php 1:17. The defining article again is not required before ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, as the phrase makes in reality one idea.—ἥτις ἐστὶ δόξα ὑμῶν: which are your glory. The distinction between the definite or objective rel. ὅς and the indefinite, generic, or qualitative rel. ὅστις (cf. Jelf, Gr. Gram., 816) is not always maintained in the NT, and indeed the use of ὅστις for ὅς is as old as Herod. (ii., 92) and Ionic Greek generally (Kühner, Gr. Gram., ii., 906). In the Pauline Epistles, however, the distinction seems to be fairly maintained (Blass, Gram. of N. T. Greek, p. 173), and ἥτις appears here to have the force of an explanation—“inasmuch as they are,” “for indeed they are”. The rel. is referred by some (Theod., Olsh., Harl.) to the μὴ ἐγκακεῖν, or to the whole sentence beginning with that; in which case ἥτις would stand for . But it is most naturally referred to the θλίψεσι. It is a case of attraction, but one in which the noun of the rel. clause gives its number (cf. Dem. c. Aphob., p. 853, 31, and in the NT itself, Acts 24:11; Php 3:20) as well as its gender to the rel. (Win.-Moult., p. 206; Buttm., Gram. of NT Greek, p. 281; Donald., Gr. Gram., p. 362; Madvig, Syn., § 98). The clause, therefore, gives the readers a reason or motive for not yielding to faintness of heart. Paul’s tribulations were endured in their behalf, and were of value for them. The greater the office of the sufferer, the more did the afflictions which he was content to endure for them redound to their honour; and the better this was understood by them, the less should they give way to weakness and discouragement.

[309] Codex Ephraemi (sæc. v.), the Paris palimpsest, edited by Tischendorf in 1843.

[310] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[311] Codex Augiensis (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Trinity College, Cambridge, edited by Scrivener in 1859. Its Greek text is almost identical with that of G, and it is therefore not cited save where it differs from that MS. Its Latin version, f, presents the Vulgate text with some modifications.

[312] Codex Mosquensis (sæc. ix.), edited by Matthæi in 1782.

[313] Codex Angelicus (sæc. ix.), at Rome, collated by Tischendorf and others.

[314] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[315] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[316] Codex Alexandrinus (sæc. v.), at the British Museum, published in photographic facsimile by Sir E. M. Thompson (1879).

[317] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.13. Wherefore] In view of the facts just recited; the welcome of Gentile believers into the true Israel, the Body of Christ, “according to the purpose of the ages,” for the instruction of holy angels, and for the saints’ own joy in intimacy with the Father. In the propagation of such a Gospel the messenger might well be willing to suffer for the sake of the converts; and they in their turn might well not be discouraged when they saw him suffer for them. These sufferings, far from indicating defeat or failure, were “their glory,” proofs that their Lord thought their incorporation into Himself worth the severest conflicts and sorrows of an Apostle. Yet the intense community of love between converts and Apostle might still tempt them to depression; and hence this request, so generous and tender.

I desire] I. e. probably, “I desire you; I ask as a boon from you.” It is possible to explain the words of a prayer to God; but the Gr. construction does not favour this, and the much stronger phrase for prayer in the next verse is also against it. See further just below.

faint] The same word as that e.g. Luke 18:1; 2 Corinthians 4:16. The idea is relaxation and cessation of effort under weariness or pain.

It is possible to explain this clause (as R. V. margin) “that I faint not”; for the pronoun is not expressed. (In that case we should also, of course, explain “I desire,” just above, of prayer to God.) But against this view lie the thoughts that the words, “which is your glory,” would thus lose point, and, even more, that such a prayer would be a discord in a passage so full of exultation and love, while the received explanation forms on the contrary a rich and true concord in it.

your glory] See last note but two.Ephesians 3:13. Αἰτοῦμαι) I desire,[46] ask God: comp. Ephesians 3:20; Ephesians 3:12. So, asking absolutely, Colossians 1:9 [“We do not cease desiring (αἰτούμενοι) for you:” viz. desiring God].—μὴ ἐκκακεῖν, not to faint) that I may not prove wanting [that there be no defect on my part], but that I may speak boldly and allure many. The infinitive referring to the same person as the finite verb I ask.[47]—θλίψεσί μου ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν, in my afflictions for you) Ephesians 3:1.—δόξα) [your] glory spiritual; inasmuch as your faith is assisted thereby [1 Corinthians 4:10].

[46] Not, “I desire you not to faint,” etc.; but, “I ask of God that I may not faint.”—ED.

[47] If the Engl. V. were right, “I desire that ye faint not,” there would have been ὑμᾶς expressed: but as it is not, the nom. of the finite verb is naturally the subject of the infin. which follows.—ED.Verse 13. - Wherefore I beg that ye faint not at my tribulations for you. A very delicate and touching request, that they would not be too much distressed by what he was suffering for them (comp. Epaphroditus, Philippians 2:26). Paul knew that the sympathy was so strong that what was suffered by him was endured sympathetically by them. Two expressions denote that the sufferings were great: "My tribulations for you" - a word expressing intense and protracted suffering; "that ye faint not," or that ye do not lose heart, as if the power of evil had got the upper hand. Which is your glory. That is, the character or capacity of the apostle of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, in which I suffer tribulation, is one of such exalted dignity as to reflect glory on you. Take that view of my sufferings; I suffer because I hold so glorious an office, and the glory of that office is reflected on you. Faint (ἐγκακεῖν)

Lit., lose heart. Κακός in classical Greek, but not in the New Testament, sometimes means cowardly.

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