Ephesians 3:4
Whereby, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.Whereby, when ye read - By the bare reading of which you may understand the view which I entertain of the plan of salvation, and the knowledge which I have of God's method of saving people, particularly of his intention in regard to the salvation of the Gentiles.

In the mystery of Christ - This does not refer to anything "mysterious" in the person of Christ; or the union of the divine and human nature in him; or to anything difficult of apprehension in the work of the atonement. It means the hitherto concealed doctrine that through the Messiah, the Gentiles were to be received to the same privileges as the Jews, and that the plan of salvation was to be made equally free for all. This great truth had been hitherto concealed, or but partially understood, and Paul says that he was appointed to make it known to the world. His "knowledge" on the subject, he says, could be understood by what he had said, and from that they could judge whether he was qualified to state and defend the doctrines of the gospel. Paul evidently supposed that the knowledge which he had on that subject was of eminent value; that it was possessed by few; that it was important to understand it. Hence he dwells upon it. He speaks of the glory of that truth. He traces it back to the counsels of God. He shows that it entered into his eternal plans; and he evidently felt that the truth which he had communicated in the former part of this Epistle, was among the most important that could come before the mind.

4. understand my knowledge—"perceive my understanding" [Alford], or "intelligence." "When ye read," implies that, deep as are the mysteries of this Epistle, the way for all to understand them is to read it (2Ti 3:15, 16). By perceiving his understanding of the mysteries, they, too, will be enabled to understand.

the mystery of Christ—The "mystery" is Christ Himself, once hidden, but now revealed (Col 1:27).

When ye read; or, unto which attending. Whereby when ye read,.... The above chapters, and seriously consider what is contained in them:

ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ of his person, office, and grace; and which knowledge was very large indeed.

Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ephesians 3:4. In accordance with which ye, while ye read it, are able to discern, etc.[168]

ΠΡῸς Ὅ applies to that which Paul ΠΡΟΈΓΡΑΨΕ, and ΠΡΌς indicates the standard of the judging; in accordance with which. See Bernhardy, p. 205; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 652; Winer, p. 361 [E. T. 505]. The inference: οὐκ ἔγραψεν ὅσα ἐχρῆν, ἈΛΛʼ ὍΣΑ ἘΧΏΡΟΥΝ ΝΟΕῖΝ (Oecumenius, comp. Chrysostom; Bengel compares ex ungue leonem), finds no justification at all in what Paul has previously written.

ἀναγινώσκοντες] not attendentes (Calvin), but, as always in the N.T., legentes.

τὴν σύνεσίν μου ἐν τῷ μυστηρίῳ τοῦ Χ.] is to be taken together, and before ἐν it was not needful to repeat the article, because ΣΥΝΙΈΝΑΙ ἘΝ (to have understanding in a matter) was a very current expression (2 Chronicles 34:12; Joshua 1:7; Daniel 1:17). Comp. 3 Esdr. 1:33: τῆς συνέσεως αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ νόμῳ κυρίου. The genitive ΤΟῦ ΧΡΙΣΤΟῦ is ordinarily taken as genitivas objecti: the mystery which has reference to Christ. But, even apart from Colossians 1:27, the whole subsequent detailed statement as far as Ephesians 3:12 suggests the contextually more exact view, according to which Paul means the μυστήριον contained in Christ. Christ Himself, His person and His whole work, especially His redeeming death, connecting also the Gentiles with the people of God (Ephesians 3:6), is the concretum of the Divine mystery.

The assailants of the genuineness of the Epistle find Ephesians 3:4 incompatible with the apostolic dignity (de Wette), nay, even “self-complacent and courting favour” (Schwegler). But here precisely the point brought into prominence, that the mystery had become known to him κατὰ ἀποκάλυψιν, justifies the stress laid upon his ΣΎΝΕΣΙς in the mystery, so far as he has already manifested the same in his Epistle. The apostle might have appealed in proof of this ΣΎΝΕΣΙς to his working, but he might also—especially taking into account the change which had meanwhile occurred in the personal composition of the church—adduce for this purpose his writing, in doing which his very apostolic dignity raised him above considerations of the semblance of self-complacency and the like. Hardly would another, who had merely assumed the name of the apostle Paul, have put into his mouth such a self-display of his σύνεσις—which, in order not to fall out of his assumed apostolic part, he would rather have avoided.

As to ΣΎΝΕΣΙς, see on Colossians 1:9.

[168] Wiggers (Stud. u. Krit. 1841, p. 433) regards as subject the Ephesians, not as such, but as representatives of the Gentile world: “ye Gentiles.” Arbitrarily imported, and entirely unnecessary. Doubtless the σύνεσις of the Ap. ἐν τῷ μυστηρίῳ τοῦ Χ. must have been entirely beyond doubt for the readers in consequence of their personal connection with him; but thereby his appeal to what he has just written does not become inappropriate, but only the more forcible and effective. There lies a certain μείωσις in this reference to that which he has just written.Ephesians 3:4. πρὸς ὃ δύνασθε ἀναγινώσκοντες νοῆσαι τὴν σύνεσίν μου ἐν τῷ μυστηρίῳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ: in accordance with which, when ye read, ye can perceive my understanding in the mystery of the Christ. The refers to the προγεγραμμένον indicated in the προέγραψα the πρός with acc. expressing here, as often, the idea of the standard or measure of the νοῆσαι (Win.-Moult., p. 505; Bernhardy, Synt., p. 205). Wicl. gives “as”; Cov., “like as”; Rhem., “according as”; Tynd., Gen., AV and RV, “whereby”. The aor. νοῆσαι follows the present ἀναγινώσκοντες, the perception being regarded as a single, accomplished act, the result of the process of reading. The verbs νοεῖν and συνιέναι when contrasted are supposed (cf. Tittmann, Syn., p. 191, and Ell., in loc.) to differ as merken, “perceive,” differs from verstehen, “understand”. But such distinctions are precarious as regards NT Greek. The noun σύνεσις, which is applied sometimes to the understanding mind (Mark 13:33; Wis 4:11), occurs repeatedly in the NT in the sense of mental apprehension (Luke 2:47; 1 Corinthians 1:19; Colossians 1:9; Colossians 2:2; 2 Timothy 2:7). It is defined as “insight depending on judgment and inference” (Mey. on Colossians 1:9), usually in the theoretical sense, but sometimes in the practical (cf. Mark 12:33). It appears to denote critical understanding, the apprehension of the bearings of things, while φρόνησις conveys the idea of practical, ethical understanding (cf. Light. on Colossians 1:9; Schmidt, Synonymik, chap. xiii., § 10, chap. cxlvii., § 8). Here σύνεσις is followed by ἐν (cf. also 3 Ezra 1:3), συνιέναι ἐν being a common phrase for having understanding in a matter (2 Chronicles 34:12; Joshua 1:7; Daniel 1:17). As the σύνεσίν μου ἐν τῶ. etc., makes one idea, the article is dispensed with after the prep. The τοῦ Χριστοῦ is taken by some as that of originating cause (Hofm.), = the mystery of which Christ is the author; by others as the gen. objecti, = the mystery relating to the Christ (Abb., Haupt, etc.), by others still as the gen. of apposition (Mey., Alf., etc.), or of identity (Ell.), = the mystery which is the Christ, which He makes, or which is contained in Him. The latter is thought to be favoured by Colossians 1:27. But the idea there is that of the Christ in us, which is not quite the same; and it seems best on the whole to take the second view, “the mystery relating to the Christ,” i.e., the revelation of the long-hidden purpose of God regarding the Christ as not for Israel only, but also for the Gentiles.4. may understand] R.V., can perceive; and so better.

my knowledge] Better, intelligence, understanding (R. V.). The thought is, not any laudation of the Apostle’s intellect, but substantiation of his God-granted insight, verified by the spiritual reader, and resulting in further confidence on the reader’s part.

of Christ] The great Secret was bound up with His work (Ephesians 2:14) and His glory (Ephesians 1:10). As to experience, its essence was “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). See also Colossians 1:27; where, probably, read “the mystery of God, [which mystery is] Christ.”Ephesians 3:4. Πρὸς ὁ, whereby) This expression is not exclusively to be referred to in a few words, but to the whole thought; and πρὸς marks the analogy, according to [“from which ye may understand”]: as in the common saying, the size of the lion may be inferred from the size of his claw.[41] From what I have written above, you may, etc.—δύνασθε, you may) The word is modestly and ingenuously used.—ἀναγινώσκουτες, when you read) This book is very sublime, and yet it is put into the hands of all to be read.—νοῆσαι τὴν σύνεσίν μου, understand my knowledge [perceive my understanding in]) and therefore profit by me. Paul wrote with greater plainness and sublimity in this epistle, than he had formerly done in any other.

[41] Joh. Michaelis quotes a similar phrase from Thucydides: πρὸς τὰς ἐπιστολὰς ὑπόπτευον, they suspected him by reason of his letters.—E. B.Verse 4. - In accordance with which, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ. Προσ ο}, with reference to which, i.e. to what I wrote afore: to make that more intelligible I write on the subject more fully now, so that you shall see that your instructor is thoroughly informed in this matter of the mystery in Christ - this once concealed but now revealed purpose of his grace. Whereby (πρὸς ὃ)

Lit., agreeably to which, namely, what he had written.

Mystery of Christ

The mystery which is Christ. See on Colossians 1:26; see on Romans 11:25.

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