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EPHESIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 9

Verse 9. And to make all men see. In order that the whole human family might see the gloW 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—koinwnia—most Mss. and versions read 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 the 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 men. 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 men. Locke renders it, "and to make all men perceive how this mystery comes now to be communicated to the world." Archbishop Whately (Errors of Romanism, ii. § 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 Eleusinian, 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 men 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 Barnes "Eph 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 Col 1:15,16. But the phrase is wanting 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 Col 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 Joh 1:3; Col 1:16 Heb 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.

{f} "mystery" Eph 3:4,5 {*} "mystery" "secret" {a} "Jesus Christ" Ps 33:6

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