Ephesians 3:2
If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) If ye have heard.—The original word rendered “if” (the same used below, Ephesians 4:21, and in 2Corinthians 5:3; Galatians 3:4; Colossians 1:23) conveys, in such collocation as this, a supposition which is only a supposition in form—a half-ironical reference to a thing not doubtful. The sense is “if (that is),” or “if, as I suppose,” “ye heard the dispensation,” &c. The passage bears on the question whether the Epistle was an encyclical letter, or one addressed to the Ephesian Church. The argument which has been drawn from it in the former direction is not so strong as appears in the English; for the original implies no doubt that the readers of the Epistle had heard, and the hearing might have been not about St. Paul, but from St. Paul himself. Still, there is a vague generality about the expression, which suits well an address to the Asiatic churches generally, but could hardly have been used to a church so well known and beloved as Ephesus, where “the signs of an Apostle” had been wrought abundantly.

The dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward.—The descriptive clause, “which is given me to you-ward,” is seen in the original to belong to the word grace,” not (as our version might suggest) to “dispensation.” The grace of God is spoken of as given to St. Paul, not so much for his own sake, as for ministration to them of the dispensation described in the next verse. We find there that the revelation of salvation to the Gentiles was the “dispensation,” that is (much as in Ephesians 1:10), the peculiar office in the ministration of the grace of God to the world, assigned to St. Paul by His wisdom. (Comp. 1Corinthians 1:17-24, “God sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel . . . We preach Christ crucified . . . unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”)

-2Ephesians 3:14-19 contain a prayer, addressed with special emphasis to the Father of all, that by the strengthening grace of the Spirit and the indwelling of Christ, accepted in faith and deepened by love, they may, first, know the mystery already described in all its greatness; and, next, learn by experience the unsearchable love of Christ, as dwelling in them, and so filling them up to “the fulness of God.”

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.If ye have heard - Εἴ-γε Ei-ge "If at least, if indeed, if so be, spoken of what is taken for granted." "Robinson;" compare 2 Corinthians 5:3; Galatians 3:4; Ephesians 4:21; Colossians 1:23, for the use of the particle. The particle here is not designed to express a doubt whether they had heard of it or not, for he takes it for granted that they had. Doddridge renders it, "since I well know you have heard," etc. He had informed them of his being called to be the minister to the Gentiles Ephesians 3:3, but still there was a possibility that they had not received the letter containing the information, and he goes, therefore, into another statement on the subject, that they might fully comprehend it. Hence, this long parenthetical sentence - one of the longest that occurs in the writings of Paul, and expressed under the impulse of a mind full of the subject; so full, as we would say, that he did not know what to say first.

Hence, it is exceedingly difficult to understand the exact state of mind in which he was. It seems to me that the whole of this long statement grew out of the incidental mention Ephesians 3:1 of the fact that he was a prisoner for the Gentiles. Instantly he seems to have reflected that they would be grieved at the intelligence that he was suffering on their account. He goes, therefore, into this long account, to show them how it happened; that it was by the appointment of God; that it was in the evolving of a great and glorious mystery; that it was in a cause adapted to promote, in an eminent degree, the glory of God; that it was according to an eternal purpose; and he, therefore Ephesians 3:13, says, that he desires that they would not "faint" or be unduly distressed on account of his sufferings for them, since his sufferings were designed to promote their "glory." He was comforted in the belief that he was making known the glorious and eternal plan of God, and in the belief that it was for the welfare of mankind; and he, therefore, entreated them also not to be troubled inordinately at his sufferings.

The dispensation - Greek "economy;" rendered "stewardship," Luke 16:2-4; and "dispensation," Ephesians 1:10; Ephesians 3:2; Colossians 1:25; see the notes at Ephesians 1:10. It means here that this arrangement was made that he should be the apostle to the Gentiles. In the assignment of the different parts of the work of preaching the gospel, the office had been committed to him of making it known to the pagan.

Of the grace of God - In the arrangements of his grace.

Which is given me to you-ward - Toward you who are Gentiles. Not to the Ephesians particularly, but to the nations at large; see the notes at Galatians 2:7.

2. If—The Greek does not imply doubt: "Assuming (what I know to be the fact, namely) that ye have heard," &c. "If, as I presume," The indicative in the Greek shows that no doubt is implied: "Seeing that doubtless," &c. He by this phrase delicately reminds them of their having heard from himself, and probably from others subsequently, the fact. See [2364]Introduction, showing that these words do not disprove the address of this Epistle to the Ephesians. Compare Ac 20:17-24.

the dispensation—"The office of dispensing, as a steward, the grace of God which was (not 'is') given me to you-ward," namely, to dispense to you.

If ye have heard; this doth not imply doubting, but rather the apostle takes the thing for granted; q.d. Seeing ye have heard; and so some render it. See the like, 1 Peter 2:3.

Of the dispensation of the grace of God: either by grace he means his apostleship, as Romans 1:5 Galatians 2:9; or the free grace of God for salvation revealed in the gospel which he was to preach; and then by dispensation we must understand his commission or ordination of God to that work, via. to publish that grace whereof the ministers of the gospel are the dispensers, 1 Corinthians 4:1.

Which is given me to you-ward; to you Ephesians and other Gentiles, for whom particularly I am appointed an apostle, Acts 9:15 26:17,18 Ga 2:7.

If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God,.... Not the free love and favour of God in his heart towards his people; nor internal grace wrought in the heart of the apostle; but either the gift of grace, as in Ephesians 3:7 qualifying him for the work of the ministry; and so the Ethiopic version renders it, "if ye have heard the gift of the grace of God"; or rather the doctrine of grace, the Gospel, the subject matter of which is the grace of God; it is a declaration of the free grace of God in the salvation of men; and it is the means of conveying the grace of God into their hearts. Now the apostle had a dispensation to preach this Gospel committed to him; he acted by authority, and as a steward of the mysteries of God; and which he faithfully dispensed to the family of Christ, who appointed him to this service: this the Ephesians had heard of, from the relations of the apostle, and others, and knew it themselves, having often heard him preach, for he was with them for the space of three years; wherefore this is not said as if he questioned, whether they had heard or not, but as taking it for granted that they had: "if", or "seeing ye have heard", &c.

which is given me to you-ward; it was not for his own private use, that the Gospel was committed to him, or gifts were given him to qualify him for the dispensation of it, but for the sake of others, especially the Gentiles, and particularly the Ephesians.

If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ephesians 3:2. Confirmation of that which has just been said, ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν τῶν ἐθνῶν, by the recalling of what the readers have heard concerning his vocation. “For you, the Gentiles,” I say, upon the presupposition that, etc. This presupposition he expresses by εἴγε, i.e. turn certe si (Klotz, ad Devar. p. 308), it being implied in the connection (for of his church he could not presuppose anything else), not in the word itself, that he assumes this rightly. He might have written εἴπερ, if at all, provided that, or εἴπερ γε, provided namely (Xen. Mem. i. 4. 4, Anab. i. 7. 9; often in the tragedians), but he has conceived the presupposition under the form at least if, if namely, and so denotes it. Comp. on Galatians 3:4 and 2 Corinthians 5:3; wherever εἴγε is used and the assumption is a certain one (as also at Ephesians 4:21), the latter is to be gathered from the connection. From whom the readers had heard the matter in question, their own consciousness told them, namely, from Paul himself and other Pauline teachers, so that εἴγε ἠκούσατε κ.τ.λ. is a reminder of his preaching among them. Hence our passage is wrongly regarded as at variance with the superscription πρὸς Ἐφεσίους, and as pointing to readers to whom Paul was not personally known; whilst others, as Grotius (so also Rinck, Sendschr. der Korinth. p. 56, who, however, takes the correct view in the Stud. u. Krit. 1849, p. 954), have, without any ground in the context, assigned to the simple ἀκούειν the signification bene intelligere; Calvin, on the other hand, had recourse to the altogether unnatural hypothesis: “Credibile est, quum ageret Ephesi, eum tacuisse de his rebus;” and Böttger (Beitr. iii. p. 46 ff.) refers it to the hearing of this Epistle read, against which the very ἀναγινώσκοντες that follows in Ephesians 3:3 is decisive. Estius very correctly states that εἴγε is not “dubitantis, sed potius affirmantis; neque enim ignorare quod hic dicitur poterant Ephesii, quibus P. ipse evang. plusquam biennio praedicaverat.”[166] Paul might have expressed himself in the form of an assertion (ἠκούσατε γάρ, or ἐπεὶ ἠκούσατε), but the hypothetic form of expression constitutes a more delicate and suggestive way of recalling his preaching among them (as also the Attic writers, in place of ἐπεί γε, delicately use the hypothetic εἴγε; see Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. i. 5. 1), without, however, containing an obliquam reprehensionem (Vitringa, comp. Holzhausen), of which the context affords no trace.

τὴν οἰκονομίαν τῆς χάριτος κ.τ.λ.] the arrangement (see on Ephesians 1:10) which has been made regarding the grace of God given to me with reference to you (τῆς χάριτος is the genitive objecti). The more precise explanation is then given by ὅτι κατὰ ἀποκάλυψιν κ.τ.λ. The χάρις is here, in accordance with the context (τῆς δοθ. μοι εἰς ὑμᾶς), the divine bestowal of grace that took place in the entrusting him with the apostolic office. Comp. on Romans 12:3; Romans 15:15. Others, like Pelagius, Anselm, Erasmus, Grotius, Michaelis, Rosenmüller, et al., have explained οἰκον. τ. χάρ. as the office of administering evangelic grace; but against this it may be urged that not τῆς δοθείσης, but τὴν δοθεῖσαν, must have been afterwards used. This mistake is avoided by Wieseler, p. 446 f., where he takes it as: the office for which I have been qualified by the grace conferred upon me on your behalf. This office the readers had heard, inasmuch as they had heard the preaching of the apostle. But how are we to justify the expression “to hear the office,” instead of “to hear the official preaching”? The words would merely say: if ye have heard of the office, etc., Galatians 1:13; Colossians 1:4; Philemon 1:5.

[166] De Wette dogmatically lays it down that the readers had no need, if the apostle had already exercised his apostolic calling among them, now first to learn from himself that he had received it. But in so speaking he has not attended to the fact that the object of the ἠκούσατε is not the reception of the apostolic vocation in general, but the mode of this reception (namely, κατὰ ἀποκάλυψιν, ver. 3). This account of the manner in which he had become their apostle he communicated to them when he was with them, and of this he reminds them now.

Ephesians 3:2. εἴγε ἠκούσατε τὴν οἰκονομίαν τῆς χάριτος τοῦ Θεοῦ τῆς δοθείσης μοι εἰς ἡμᾶς: if so be that ye did hear of the dispensation of the grace of God that was given me to you-ward. The comp. particle εἴγε, or εἴ γε (according to LTrWH), makes a supposition which is taken for granted, = “if, indeed, as I may assume”. Whether the certainty of the assumption is in the particle itself or is derived from the context is still debated among grammarians. Some hold that in this case as in others the γέ simply strengthens the force of the simple particle, while others think that this is its significance, if not in every instance, at least in a considerable number of occurrences; cf. Mey. and Ell., in loc.; Win.-Moult., p. 561; Bâumlein, Partikeln, p. 64. Here it introduces a polite reminder of what these Ephesians certainly had heard—“a gentle appeal, expressed in a hypothetical form, and conveying the hope that his words had not been quite forgotten” (Ell.). On οἰκονομίαν, which means the dispensation, the arrangement made in the matter of something, not “the apostolic office” (Wiesel.), see under Ephesians 1:10. The τῆς χάριτος is the gen. objecti or that of “the point of view” (Ell.) = the arrangement or disposition in respect of the grace of God. The χάρις itself is not the apostolic office (Est.), but the gift of grace that selected Paul and qualified him for that office; and so it (not the οἰκονομία, but the χάρις) is described as δοθείσης, given. The εἰς ὑμᾶς, admirably rendered by the AV “to you-ward,” denotes the “ethical direction” (Ell.) of the gift of grace—the fact that it was bestowed on Paul not for his own sake, but with a view to their position.

2. If ye have heard of] Lit. if so be that ye heard of. This phrase occasions the question, Could this Epistle have been addressed to a Church familiar with St Paul? And it has thus seemed, to some extreme critics, an argument against the genuineness of the Epistle, a lapsus plumœ on the part of a fabricator; and, in very different quarters, an argument against the special destination to Ephesus (see Introduction, ch. 3). Not here to notice the anti-Pauline inference it is enough to say of the anti-Ephesian that it proves too much. What was known of Paul in the Ephesian Church would practically be known of him throughout the missions of Asia (see Acts 19:10; Acts 19:26), so that the phrase remains as difficult as before. The true account of it, surely, is that it is a phrase of almost irony, an allusion to well-known fact under the disguise of hypothesis. His Gentile commission was no new thing, and was widely known, when this clause was written; but a natural and beautiful rhetoric prefers to treat it as if possibly obscure or forgotten.—That St Paul had never been silent at Ephesus on the subject appears from Acts 19:8-9, where we see him withdrawing the converts from the synagogue.

the dispensation] The stewardship. For the figure, cp. 1 Corinthians 4:1-2; 1 Corinthians 9:17; Colossians 1:25; 1 Peter 4:10.

the grace of God which is given me] Such is the grammatical connexion; not the “stewardship” but the “grace” is the thing given. And the “grace” is explained by Romans 1:5 (“grace and apostleship”) and below, Ephesians 3:7-8. It was the loving gift of commission and inspiration to preach Christ among the Gentiles.—For similar allusions to his life-work cp. Acts 22:21; Acts 26:17-18; Romans 1:5; Romans 11:13; Galatians 2:2; Galatians 2:9.

Ephesians 3:2. Εἴγε ἠκούσατε, since[39] indeed ye have heard) The things which they had heard concerning Paul (comp. note on Ephesians 1:1[40]) were a testimony that he, Ephesians 3:1, spoke the truth concerning himself.

[39] Or if: but the Indic. favours since.—ED.

[40] Viz. They bad heard of his bonds, and of his being persecuted by the Jews for his preaching to the Gentiles. This hearing was not restricted to the Ephesians; but applies to all, to whom, in the different churches, this encyclical letter was to be carried by Tychicus.—ED.

Verse 2. - If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God. Here begins the digression. The words, "if ye have heard," etc., do not denote an uncertainty, but are a delicate reminder. Doubtless they had heard of the matter when he was at Ephesus, and, as he remarks in ver. 3, he had already written briefly on it. Grace is here used in a more restricted sense than in Ephesians 1:2 - in the sense of Divine favor, honor, privilege - the same as in ver. 8, "To me... is this favor given." Which is given me to you-ward. The grace or favor meant is that whereby Paul was constituted the apostle of the Gentiles. Deeply though he felt his being sent away from preaching to his countrymen (Acts 22:18), he took kindly to the new sphere allotted to him, and magnified his office (Romans 11:13). Ephesians 3:2If ye have heard (εἴγε ἠκούσατε)

Here begins a long digression extending to Ephesians 3:14. If, Rev., if so be, means upon the supposition that; not implying the certainty of the assumption, though this shade of meaning is given by the context. The words are a reminder of his preaching among them.

Dispensation (οἰκονομίαν)

See on Ephesians 1:10; see on Colossians 1:25. The divine arrangement or disposition.

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