Ephesians 3:1-5

1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles —

if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you,

how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already,

by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ),

which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets:

for this reason (v.1) — refers back to “building together of the saints” in Ephesians 2:20-22

prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles (v.1) — see Acts 22:21-22

for (v.1 — 2nd usage) = on behalf of the Gentiles and for their good

Although God had made a provision for the Gentiles to be saved through Israel in prophecy, a cursory reading of the Old Testament will produce this conclusion: No one was sent to the Gentiles. They were “strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). — Sadler, page 118.

if (v.2) = “if, indeed, as I may assume,” assuming that — They had heard it, and Paul was now reminding them.

dispensation (v.2) = lit. “law of the house” = oversight, management, administration

revelation (v.3) = lit. “an uncovering, a laying bare”

mystery (v.3) — a secret purpose of God which when uncovered is understood by the Spirit-taught believer — no other writer of Scripture — only Paul — mentions the Body of Christ

knowledge (v.4) = mental apprehension —  insight depending on judgment and inference

mystery of Christ (v.4) = mystery relating to Christ

other (v.5) = another of a different kind

ages (v.5) = the period covered by a generation of men, a generation

sons of men (v.5) = men, with the idea of generations — Paul is reinforcing the point that no humans knew these truths until they were revealed to Paul by God who knew them from the beginning

now (v.5) — as opposed to “other ages (earlier in this verse) — further evidence that the apostles and prophets were the apostles (Paul, Timothy, Titus) and prophets of grace, not the Old Testament prophets and 12 apostles of the kingdom — see Sadler’s comments on Ephesians 2:19-22

Spirit (v.5) — Paul received the mystery by direct revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ. The other apostles and prophets received it through the illumination of the Spirit. We also receive it by illumination of the Spirit through the writings of Paul.

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