Ephesians 3:9
And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
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(9) To make all men see.—St. Paul speaks here first of manifestation to all men. The phrase used in the original is at once stronger and weaker than our version of it. It is stronger, for the word is, properly, to enlighten or illuminate—the same word used above (Ephesians 1:18), “the eyes of your heart being enlightened.” Strictly, Christ alone is the Light of the world, “which enlightens every man” (John 1:4-5; John 1:9; John 8:2); but, as reflecting Him, He declared His servants to be the “light of the world.” Yet it is weaker, for while we can enlighten, it is our daily sorrow that we cannot “make men see.” Even He wept over Jerusalem because His light was, by wilful blindness, “hidden from their eyes” (Luke 19:41). To “open the eyes, and turn men from darkness to light,” although (as in Acts 26:18) attributed in general terms to the servants of God, because naturally following on their ministry, is properly the work of the Holy Spirit, even in relation to the words of our Lord Himself (John 14:26).

The fellowship of the mystery.—Both MS. authority and internal evidence point here to “the dispensation of the mystery” as the true reading. Probably here the reference is not to the commission of the mystery to the Apostle (as in Ephesians 3:2), but (as in Ephesians 1:10) to the law or order which God Himself has ordained for the manifestation of the truth, both to men and angels.

Who created all things by Jesus Christ.—The words “by Jesus Christ” should be omitted, probably having crept in from a gloss, and not belonging to the original. The description of God as “He who created all things,” material and spiritual, is here emphatic—designed to call attention to the dispensation of the gospel as existing in the primeval purpose of the Divine Mind (comp. Ephesians 1:4; 1Corinthians 1:7), hidden from the beginning of the world (properly, from the ages) till the time of its revelation was come. The New Testament constantly dwells on this view of the Mediation of Christ, as belonging in some form to the relation of humanity to God in itself, and not merely to that relation as affected by the Fall; but nowhere with greater emphasis than in the profound and universal teaching of these Epistles.

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.And to make all men see - In order that the whole human family might see the glory of God in the plan of salvation. Hitherto the revelation of his character and plans had been confined to the Jews. Now it was his design that all the race should be made acquainted with it.

What is the fellowship of the mystery - Instead of "fellowship" here - κοινωνία koinōnia - most mss. and versions read οἰκονομία oikonomia - "dispensation;" see Mill. This reading is adopted by Griesbach, Tittman, Rosenmuller, Koppe, and is regarded by most critics as being the genuine reading. The mistake might easily have been made by a transcriber. The meaning then would be, "to enlighten all in respect to rite dispensation of this mystery;" that is, to cause all to understand the manner in which this great truth of the plan of salvation is communicated to people. If the word "fellowship" is to be retained, it means that this doctrine, or secret counsel of God, was now "common" to all believers. It was not to be confined to any class or rank of people. Locke renders it," and to make all people perceive how this mystery comes now to be communicated to the world." Dr. Whately (Errors of Romanism, chapter ii. section 1) renders it, the common participation of the mystery;" that is, of truths formerly unknown, and which could not be known by man's unaided powers, but which were now laid open by the gracious dispensation of Divine Providence; no longer concealed, or confined to a few, but to be partaken of by all.

The allusion, according to him, is to the mysteries of the ancient pagan religions; and he supposes that the apostle designs to contrast those "mysteries" with Christianity. In those "mysteries" there was a distinction between the initiated and uninitiated. There was a revelation to some of the worshippers, of certain holy secrets from which others were excluded. There were in some of the mysteries, as the Elensinian, "great and lesser" doctrines in which different persons were initiated. In strong contrast with these, the "great mystery" in Christianity was made known to all. It was concealed from none and there was no distinction made among those who were initiated. No truths which God had revealed were held back from any part, but there was a common participation by all. Christianity has no hidden truths for a part only of its friends; it has no "reserved" doctrines; it has no truths to be entrusted only to a sacred priesthood. Its doctrines are to be published to the wide world, and every follower of Christ is to be a partaker of all the benefits of the truths which Christ has revealed. It is difficult to determine which is the true reading, and it is not very important. The general sense is, that Paul felt himself called into the ministry in order that all people might understand now that salvation was free for all - a truth that had been concealed for ages. Bearing this great truth, he felt that he had a message of incalculable value to mankind, and he was desirous to go and proclaim it to the wide world. On the word "mystery," see the notes on Ephesians 1:9.

Hath been hid in God - With God. It has been concealed in his bosom. The plan was formed, but it had not before been made known.

Who created all things - This is plain enough; but it is not quite so plain why the declaration is introduced in this place. Locke and Rosenmuller suppose that it refers to the new creation, and that the sense is, that God frames and manages this new creation wholly by Jesus Christ. But the expression contains a truth of larger import, and naturally conveys the idea that all things were made by God, and that this was only a part of his great and universal agency. The meaning is, that God formed all things, and that this purpose of extending salvation to the world was a part of his great plan, and was under his control.

By Jesus Christ - As this stands in our common Greek text, as well as in our English version, there is a striking resemblance between the passage and that in Colossians 1:15-16. But the phrase is missing in the Vulgate, the Syriac, the Coptic, and in several of the ancient mss. Mill remarks that it was probably inserted here by some transcriber from the parallel passage in Colossians 1:16; and it is rejected as an interpolation by Griesbach. It is not "very" material whether it be retained in this place or not, as the same sentiment is elsewhere abundantly taught; see John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2. If it is to be retained, the sentiment is that the Son of God - the second person of the Trinity - was the great and immediate agent in the creation of the universe.

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 [2365]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."

To make all men; all those to whom the apostle was sent.

See; or, to enlighten them; i.e. ministerially, Acts 26:18; as to enlighten them principally belongs to Christ, John 1:9.

What is the fellowship of the mystery; or communication of the mystery, viz. concerning the salvation of the Gentiles without circumcision, or the works of the law which God now made known by Paul’s ministry, contrary to what the Jews believed.

Which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God; not revealed to men as to the circumstances and manner of it, but hid in the mind and purpose of God: see the like, Ephesians 1:9.

Who created all things by Jesus Christ; this may be understood either of the first creation, or the second, or immediately of the first, and by that of the second; as God created all things at first, (and so both Jews and Gentiles), and gave them their being, by Christ, John 1:3; so he recreates, regenerates, and gives them a new being, by Christ, that they may be of the same body under him: see the like, 2 Corinthians 4:6.

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.

And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
Ephesians 3:9. Καὶ φωτίσαι πάντας] According to Harless, who is followed by Olshausen, Paul makes a transition to all men: “not, however, to the Gentiles alone, but to all.” Wrongly, since Paul must have written καὶ πάντας φωτίσαι, as he had before prefixed τοῖς ἔθνεσιν. πάντας applies to all Gentiles, and the progress of the discourse has regard not to the persons, but to a particular main point (καί, and in particular), upon which Paul in his proclamation of the riches of Christ gives information to all Gentiles.

φωτίσαι] collustrare, of the enlightenment of the mind (John 1:9), which is here to be conceived of as brought about by means of the preaching. Comp. Hebrews 6:4 (and Bleek, ad loc.), Hebrews 10:32; Psalm 119:130; Sir 45:17. Docere (Grotius, Bengel, Rosenmüller, and others) hits doubtless the real sense, but unwarrantably abandons the figure. The possible difficulty that Christ Himself is in fact the light (John 1:9; John 12:35) disappears on considering that the apostles are mediately the enlightened ones (2 Corinthians 4:4; Matthew 5:14), the proclaimers and bearers (Acts 26:18) of the divine light and its moral powers (v. 8).

τίς ἡ οἰκονομία κ.τ.λ.] i.e. what is the arrangement, which is made with regard to the mystery, etc. As to οἰκονομία, see on Ephesians 1:10, Ephesians 3:2; the mystery is that indicated as to its contents in Ephesians 3:6; and what has been adjusted or arranged with regard thereto (ἡ οἰκονομία τοῦ μυστηρίου), consists in the fact that this mystery, hidden in God from the very first, was to be made known in the present time through the church to the heavenly powers. See what follows.

ἀποκεκρυμ.] σεσιγημένου, Romans 16:25. Comp. 1 Corinthians 2:7; Colossians 1:26.

ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων] from the world-periods, since they have begun to run their course, from the very beginning. The mystery, namely, was decreed already πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων, 1 Corinthians 2:7, comp. Ephesians 1:4, but is conceived of as hidden only since the beginning of the ages, because there was no one previously for whom it could be hidden. The same thing with ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων here is denoted at Romans 16:25 by the popular expression χρόνοις αἰωνίοις. We may add that ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων occurs in the N.T. only here and Colossians 1:26; elsewhere is found the expression current also in Greek authors, ἀπʼ αἰῶνος (Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21), and ἐκ τοῦ αἰῶνος (John 9:32).

τῷ τὰ πάντα κτίσαντι] quippe qui omnia[176] creavit. Herein lies—and this is the significant bearing of this more precise designation of God—a confirmation of what has just been said, τοῦ ἀποκεκρυμ. ἀπὸ τῶν αἰών. ἐν τῷ Θεῷ. Bengel aptly observes: “rerum omnium creatio fundamentum est omnis reliquae oeconomiae, pro potestate Dei universali liberrime dispensatae.” He who has created all that exists must already have had implicitly contained in His creative plan the great unfolding of the world, which forms the contents of this mystery, so that thus the latter was ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων hidden in God. Comp. on Ὁ ΠΟΙῶΝ ΤΑῦΤΑ ΓΝΩΣΤᾺ ἈΠʼ ΑἸῶΝΟς, Acts 15:18, and as to the idea which underlies our passage also, that already the creative word contemplated Christ as its aim,[177] Colossians 1:16 ff., and the commentary thereon. Rückert thinks that Paul wishes to indicate how far it may not surprise us that He, from whom all things are derived, should have concealed a part of His all-embracing plan, in order to bring it to light only at the due time. But, apart from the fact that the creation of all things does not at all involve as a logical inference the concealment of a part of the divine plan, it was not the ἀποκεκρυμ. in itself that needed a ground assigned for it, since in fact this predicate is necessarily implied in the notion of μυστήριον, but the ἈΠΟΚΕΚΡ. ἈΠῸ ΤῶΝ ΑἸΏΝΩΝ. This ἈΠῸ ΤῶΝ ΑἸΏΝΩΝ is the terminus a quo, which was introduced with the κτίσις τῶν πάντων. At variance with the context, Olshausen holds that Paul wished to call attention to the fact that the establishment of redemption itself [of which the apostle in fact is not speaking] is a creative act of God, which could have proceeded only from Him who created all things. Harless places Τῷ ΤᾺ ΠΆΝΤΑ ΚΤΊΣ. in connection with ἽΝΑ Κ.Τ.Λ., Ephesians 3:10. But see on Ephesians 3:10.

[176] The totality of that which exists, the whole world. Every limitation of this universal meaning is unwarranted, as when Beza, Piscator, Flatt, and others refer it to mankind. “Unus Deus omnes populos condidit, sic etiam nunc omnes ad se vocat,” Beza. Holzhausen, too, arbitrarily limits it to all spiritual beings, called to everlasting life; while Matthies mixes up also in κτίσαντι the effecting of the spiritual blessedness.

[177] Hence εἰς Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν would have been a more correct gloss than διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χρ., which the Recepta has.


When διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ is recognised as not genuine (see the critical remarks), the possibility is taken away of referring κτίσαντι to the moral creation by Christ, as is done by Calvin, Zanchius, Calixtus, Grotius, Crell, Locke, Semler, Morus, Koppe, Usteri, Meier, Baumgarten-Crusius, and others. But even if those words were genuine, the formal and absolute κτίζειν, as well as the emphatically prefixed and unlimited τὰ πάντα, would justify only the reference to the physical creation, Genesis 1. Comp. Calovius and Reiche.

Ephesians 3:9. καὶ φωτίσαι πάντας τίς ἡ κοινωνία τοῦ μυστηρίου τοῦ ἀποκεκρυμμένου ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων: and to make all see what is the fellowship (dispensation) of the mystery which from all ages hath been hidden. The πάντας which the TR inserts after φωτίσαι is omitted by some MSS. (including [272]1[273]) and certain Fathers (Hil., Jer., Aug., etc.). It is rejected by Tisch., accepted by RV in the text, and dealt with by WH as a secondary reading. The κοινωνία of the TR, which has the slenderest possible authority, must give place to the οἰκονομία of the RV with LTTrWH, which is the reading of [274] [275] [276] [277] [278] [279] [280] [281], etc. If the πάντας is omitted the sense becomes, as it is given in the margin of the RV, “to bring to light what is” the dispensation. If it is retained, the idea will be that of the enlightenment of all as to what the dispensation is. The πάντας, however, which occupies an unemphatic position here, after the verb (in contrast with the emphatic position of τοῖς ἔθνεσιν before its verb) can scarcely bear the absolute sense of all men, Jew and Gentile alike, but refers to all the ἔθνη previously mentioned. The verb φωτίσαι is more than διδάξαι or κηρύξαι. It means to illuminate. Paul was not only to deliver his Apostolic message, but also to spiritually enlighten those who heard it, so that they should understand it. The particular thing in that message which is here in view is the οἰκονομία (on which see under Ephesians 1:10), that is, the dispensation or arrangement of the mystery, to wit the admission of the Gentiles on equal terms with the Jews; the μυστήριον here having the same application as in Ephesians 3:6. The formula ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων occurs in the NT only here and in Colossians 1:26; the forms ἀπὸ αἰῶνος and ἐκ τοῦ αἰῶνος also occur, the former in Luke 1:70 and Acts 3:21, the latter in John 9:32. It means literally “from the ages,” “from the world-periods,” that is, from the beginning, or since the world began. It is to be distinguished from πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων (1 Corinthians 2:7). The Divine decree was formed before the ages of the world began; the keeping of that decree hidden was since the ages of the world began, i.e., “from the commencement of the ages when intelligent beings from whom it could be concealed were called into existence” (Ell.). In Romans 16:25 we have the similar description of the μυστήριον as χρόνοις αἰωνίοις σεσιγημένου.—ἐν τῷ Θεῷ τῷ τὰ πάντα κτίσαντι διὰ Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ: in God who created all things [through Jesus Christ]. The “mystery” had its place of concealment in God Himself, in the Divine mind. And God is designated specially in respect of His creative power—“God who created all things” (not “inasmuch as He created all things,” which would require the omission of the τῷ). The τὰ πάντα, which also occupies a somewhat emphatic position here, is not to be restricted either to the physical creation (Chrys.), or to the spiritual (Calv.), but has the absolute sense of all that exists. The TR adds διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ to the κτίσαντι (with [282] [283] [284], etc.); but these words must be omitted, as the best authorities ([285] [286] [287] [288] [289] [290], 17, etc.) do not give them. But why is this reference to God as the Creator of all things introduced at this point? By way of confirmation, say some, of what has just been said of the “mystery” as having been hidden from the beginning in God; the point being that He who created all things must have had the contents of this “mystery” in His eternal plan (Mey.). To “enhance the idea of His omnipotence,” say others; He who created all things having “ordained the mystery itself in the exercise of His undoubted prerogative of sovereign and creative power” (Ell.). Or, as others put it more precisely, its object is to take the wonder from the idea of the “mystery” having been so long unrevealed; the creation of all things by God being a fact which involves His perfect right to adjust all things as He will” (Alf.)—the Creator of all being “free to make what arrangements He pleased as to the concealment and revelation of His purpose” (Abb.). None of these interpretations can be said to be either very clear or very adequate. This designation of God as the Creator of all that exists is intended rather to express the greatness of the “mystery” that is now disclosed and of which Paul is to be a preacher. The main thought in the verse in question is the thought with which it starts, viz., the marvel of that Apostolic commission of which Paul had been put in trust by the grace of God; and the majesty and the wonder of that commission are made the greater by the grandeur of the “mystery” the Divine disposition of which he was appointed to declare to all men. This “mystery,” though long hidden, had been in the Divine mind from the first, and it had been there in such a sense that the whole scheme of created things had it in view, and in such wise that the knowledge of it was to be imparted even to the angelic world (cf. Haupt). Or, as it may be better put, the “mystery” now at last revealed by God and proclaimed by Paul to all men in all the sovereign and surpassing wisdom of the Divine dispensation by which it was hidden long and in the fulness of time at last disclosed, was one of God’s own eternal secrets, one of His unsearchable thoughts, a thing that had its place from the beginning in His creative plan, a reserve in the Eternal mind that purposed and formed all that exists. And to Paul’s hands did the surpassing grace of God commit the proclamation of a truth of such magnitude, the illumination (φωτίσαι) of so unsearchable a disposition of the Divine wisdom!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[280] 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[290] 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.

9. and to make all men see] Lit., “to illuminate all men.” The Latin versions have illuminare omnes.—Some ancient MSS. (including the great MS. of the British Museum, and the Sinaitic), and other authorities, omit “all men.” But the external and internal evidence for retention greatly preponderates.—The idea is of the Apostle as “casting bright light” on the universal scope of the Gospel, in the eyes of “all men,” no longer only of Jews.—The verb is the same as that in 2 Timothy 1:10; where lit., “hath thrown light upon, hath illuminated, life and immortality.” Truths once in shadow are by the Gospel brought out into the sun.

the fellowship] The true reading is undoubtedly dispensation, or stewardship. The reading represented by A.V. is probably an explanation, which crept into the text; representing very nearly the meaning of the true word. “The dispensation of the secret” is, in effect, the world-wide distribution, through the stewards of God, of the news and the blessings of the full Gospel, so long held in reserve.

See notes above on Ephesians 3:2-6.

from the beginning of the world] Lit., “from the ages;” R.V., from all ages. To define somewhat the meaning of the phrase; the great Truth in question was hidden in comparative secrecy, from the starting point of the progress of the developments (“ages”) of the Divine dealings for man, up to the actual Advent of the Messiah. We gather here that this was so not only at and after the call of Israel, but in the patriarchal age, and even in the angelic age, or ages. See below on Ephesians 3:10.

hid in God] the great Treasury of unknown blessings.

who created all things] Omit “by Jesus Christ,” with the preponderance of ancient authority.—The truth of the One Creator appears here as in deep harmony with the universal scope of His Redemption. All through Scripture, in very different contexts, the truths of Creation and Redemption are seen in connexion. See a vivid illustration in Colossians 1, where the Father, in and through the Son, both “creates all things,” and “reconciles all things.”

Ephesians 3:9. Φωτίσαι) to make see, to show; comp. Colossians 1:28. For הורה, LXX. φωτίζει, 2 Kings 12:3, and in other places.—τίς ἡ οἰκονομία, what is the dispensation) Colossians 1:25-26. [The reading οἰκονομία is acknowledged by the most earnest defenders of the more received readings[44]—Not. Crit.]—ἘΝ Τῷ ΘΕῷ, in God) An antithesis to creatures, even the most excellent, Ephesians 3:10.—τῷ τὰ πάντα κτίσαντι, who created all things) The creation of all things is the foundation of all the rest of the economy, most freely dispensed, according to the universal power of God. The expression, all things, includes τὰς ἀρχὰς, Κ.Τ.Λ., principalities, etc.

[44] Rec. Text has κοινωνία, with hardly any authority. So Engl. V. the fellowship. But ABCD(Δ)Gfg Vulg. Hilary 54, read οἰκονομία.—ED.

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. Ephesians 3:9To make all men see (φωτίσαι πάντας)

Lit., to enlighten.

The mystery

The admission of the Gentiles into covenant privileges.

From the beginning of the world (ἀπὸ τῶν αἰώνων)

Lit., from the ages. Rev., from all ages. See on Colossians 1:26.

All things (τὰ πάντα)


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