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Ephesians Chapter Three

Ephesians Chapter Three

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Published by glennpease



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Published by: glennpease on Aug 14, 2013
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EPHESIAS CHAPTER THREEBY THE REV. PROFESSOR G. G. FIDLAY, B.A.,THE SECRET OF THE AGES." For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus in behalf of youGentiles, — if so be that ye have heard of the dispensation of that graceof God which was given me toward you ; how that by revelation wasmade known unto me the mystery (as I wrote afore in few words,whereby, when ye read, ye can perceive my understanding in themystery of Christ), which in other generations was not made knownunto the sons of men, as it hath now been revealed unto His holyapostles and prophets in the Spirit ; to wit, that the Gentiles are fellow-heirs, and fellow-members of the body, and fellow-partakei's of thepromise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, whereof I was made aminister, according to the gift of that grace of God which was given meaccording to the working of His power. Unto me, who am less thanthe least of all saints, was this grace given, to preach unto the Gentilesthe unsearchable riches of Christ ; and to bring to light what is thedispensation of the mystery which from all ages hath been hid in Godwho created all things." — Eph. iii. 1-9.VERSES 2-13 are in form a parenthesis. Theyinterrupt the prayer which appears to be com-mencing in the first verse and is not resumed untilverse 14. This intervening period is parenthetical,however, in appearance more than in reality. Thematter it contains is so weighty and so essential to theargument and structure of the epistle, that it is impos-sible to treat it as a mere aside. The writer intends,at the pause which occurs after the paragraph justconcluded (ii. 22), to interpose a few words of prayeri55156 THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIAS.
before passing on to the next topic. But in the actof doing so, this subject of which his mind is full — viz., that of his own relation to God's great purposefor mankind — forces itself upon him ; and the prayerthat was on his lips is pent up for a few momentslonger, until it flows forth again, in richer measure, inverses 14-19.Like chapter i. 3-14, this passage is an extremeinstance of St Paul's amorphous style. His sentencesare not composed ; they are spun in a continuousthread, an endless chain of prepositional, participial,and relative adjuncts. They grow under our eyeslike living things, putting forth new processes everymoment, now in this and now in that direction. Withinthe main parenthesis we soon come upon anotherparenthesis including verses 3b and 4 ("as I wroteafore," etc.); and at several points the grammaticalconnexion is uncertain. In its general scope, thisintricate sentence resolves itself into a statement of what God has wrought in the apostle toward the accom-plishment of His great plan. It thus completes theexposition given already of that which God wrought inChrist for the Church, and that which He has wroughtthrough Christ in Gentile believers in fulfilment of thesame end.Verses 1-9 speak (1) of the mystery itself — God'sgracious intention toward the human race, unknownin earlier times ; and (2) of the man to whom, aboveothers, it was given to make known the secret.I. The mystery is defined twice over. First, it con-sists in the fact that "in Christ Jesus through thegospel the Gentiles are co-heirs and co-incorporate andco-partners in the promise" (ver. 6) ; and secondly, it
iii.i-9.] THE SECRET OF THE AGES. 157is "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (ver. 8). Thelatter phrase gathers to a point what is diverselyexpressed in the former.Christ is, to St Paul, the centre and the sum of the mysteries of Divine truth, of the whole enigma of existence. In the parallel epistle he calls Him "themystery of God — in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden " (Col. ii. 2, 3 : R. V.).The mystery of God, discovered in Christ, was hiddenout of the sight and reach of previous times. ow,by the preaching of the gospel, it is made the commonproperty of mankind (Col. i. 25-28).In close connexion with these statements, St Paulspeaks there, as he does here, of his own heavy suffer-ings endured on this account and the joy they gavehim. He is the instrument of a glorious purposeworthy of God ; he is the mouthpiece of a revelationwaiting to be spoken since the world began, that isaddressed to all mankind and interests heaven alongwith earth. The greatness of his office is commen-surate with the greatness of the truth given him toannounce.The mystery, as we have said, consists in Christ.This we learned from chapter i. 4, 5, and 9, 10. InChrist the Eternal lodged His purpose and laid Hisplans for the world. It is His fulness that the fulnessof the times dispenses. The Old Testament, the \reservoir of previous revelation, had Him for its close-kept secret, "held in silence through eternal times"(Rom. xvi. 25-27). The drift of its prophecies, thefocus of its converging lights, the veiled magnet towardswhich its spiritual indications pointed, was "Christ."He " was the spiritual rock that followed " Israel inits wanderings, from whose springs the people drank,

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