Ephesians 3:1-12

Ephesians 3:1-12
Epiphany ABC


1 This is the reasonA that I PaulB am a prisonerC for ChristD JesusE for the sake of you GentilesF— 2 for surely you have already heard of the commissionG of God’sH graceI that was given me for you, 3 and how the mysteryJ was made known to me by revelation,K as I wrote above in a few words, 4 a reading of which will enable you to perceiveL my understandingM of the mystery of Christ. 

Notes on verses 1-4

A “reason” = charin. 9x in NT. From charis (grace, kindness, favor, gratitude, thanks. It is the sense of being inclined to or favorable towards – leaning towards someone to share some good or benefit. This can be literal, figurative, or spiritual. It is grace as abstract concept, manner, or action); perhaps from chairo (to rejoice, be glad; used to say hello; properly, feeling joy in response to God’s grace). This is in favor of, for the sake of, by reason of. Properly, favor gives the motivation for taking action.
B “Paul” = paulos. From Latin Paulus (small, little). This is Paul or Paulus, meaning little.
C “prisoner” = desmios. 17x in NT. From desomon (bond, chain, imprisonment; can also refer to a ligament, impediment, or infirmity); from deo (to tie, bind, fasten, compel, imprison, prisoner; to declare unlawful; to bind literally or figuratively). This is binding, in bonds. Can also refer to one who is bound i.e. a prisoner.
D “Christ” = christos. From chrio (consecrate by anointing with oil; often done for prophets, priests, or kings). Literally, the anointed one, Christ. The Greek word for Messiah.
E “Jesus” = iesous. From Hebrew Yehoshua (Joshua, the Lord is salvation); from YHVH (proper name of the God of Israel; the self-existent and eternal one); from havah (to become) or from hayah (to come to pass, become, be) + yasha (to deliver, defend, help, preserve, rescue; properly, to be open, wide or free, which implies being safe. So, in a causative sense, this is to free someone. This is Jesus or Joshua in Greek – the Lord saves or the Lord is salvation.
F “Gentiles” = ethnos. Probably from etho (a custom or culture). This is people who are united by having similar customs or culture. Generally, it is used to refer to Gentiles. This is a tribe, race, nation, or Gentiles in general. This is where the term “ethnicity” comes from.
G “commission” = oikonomia. 9x in NT. From oikonomeo (to be a steward or manage a household or estate); from oikonomos (household manager, steward, guardian – usually a slave who had been freed and now worked to oversee a house; was also used for any employee doing that job; also came to mean a treasurer and figuratively, one who preached the Gospel) [from oikos (house – the building or the family; lineage, nation; the temple) + derivative of nomos (law, custom, principle whether from God or humanity; can refer to the Torah or the Old Testament as a whole; this is law in the sense that it is that which is prescribed for one to do); from nemo (to allot, parcel out, apportion)]. This is stewardship, administration, management, or dispensation. Literally, management a household or estate, but here used figuratively to describe the greater “economy” of the cosmic religious estate.
H “God’s” = theos. From Proto-Indo-European origins, meaning do, put, place. This is God or a god in general.
I “grace” = charis. Related to “reason” in v1. See note A above.
J “mystery” = musterion. From mustes (an initiate); from mueo (to initiate into mysteries – to instruct, learn; properly, to shut one’s eyes and/or mouth to experience mystery); from muo (to shut one’s eyes or mouth). This word is mystery or secret doctrine. It refers to a mystery that one must be initiated in order to learn – language from mystery cults contemporary with the writing of scripture. In the Bible, used for revelation from God about that which had not been known, but is now knowable in Christ. This is where the English word “mystery” comes from.
K “revelation” = apokalupsis. 18x in NT. From apokalupto (to reveal, uncover, bring to light, disclose; revealing what is hidden or obstructed – particularly its essence; to make manifest) [from apo (from, away from) + kalupto (to cover, veil, hide, conceal; used figuratively for keeping something hidden)]. This is an uncovering or unveiling, a revelation or appearing. Can also mean a manifestation. This is where the word “apocalypse” comes from.
L “perceive” = noeo. 14x in NT. From nous (mind, the ability to reason, the intellect, comprehension); from noos (mind) OR from ginosko (to come to know, learn, realize, recognize perceive; knowing, particularly from personal experience). This is think, consider, understand, realize. It includes mental effort to think through to a conclusion. Also refers to our capacity for moral reasoning. Used figuratively for comprehend. 
M “understanding” = sunesis. 7x in NT. From suniemi (to put together; in a figurative sense, to understand or gain insight; to bring facts or ideas into a connected whole, synthesizing; coming to a summary or final understanding of a matter that includes how it will be lived out/put into practice; implies pious living and wisdom) [from sun (with, together with) + hiemi (to send, put)]. This is running together – understanding, cleverness, insight. This is used for practical discernment or intellect, synthesized reasoning, connecting the dots.

5 In formerN generations this mystery was not made known to humankind,O as it has now been revealedP to his holyQ apostlesR and prophetsS by the Spirit:T 6 that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs,U members of the same body,V and sharersW in the promiseX in Christ Jesus through the gospel.Y

Notes on verses 5-6

N “former” = heteros. This is other, another, different. Used for another that is in some way distinct. There is a different word in Greek, allos, for another of the same type.
O “humankind” = huios + ho + anthropos. Literally “the sons of humanity.” Anthropos is used for humankind – people of all genders.
P “revealed” = apokalupto. Related to “revelation” in v3. See note K above.
Q “holy” = hagios. From hagnos (holy, sacred, pure ethically, ritually, or ceremonially; prepared for worship, chaste, unadulterated, pure to the core; undefiled by sin; figurative for innocent, modest, perfect). God is totally different from humanity and thus set apart. That which is consecrated to worship God (elements of worship) or to serve God (as the saints) are holy because they are now set apart for God’s purposes. Holy because important to God. This is sacred physically, pure. It can be morally blameless or ceremonially consecrated.
R “apostles” = apostolos. From apostello (to send, send away, send forth as a messenger, to commission); [from apo (from, away from) + stello (to set, arrange, prepare, provide for).] This is a messenger – someone sent out on a mission as an envoy or delegate. It can also refer to someone set at liberty. Generally, this is a messenger who is meant to be a representative of the one who sent them. They are thus, set apart on a mission literally or figuratively.
S “prophets” = prophetes. From pro (before, in front of, earlier than) + phemi (to declare, say, use contrasts in speaking to shed light on one point of view). Phemi is from phao (to shine) or phaino (to bring light, cause to appear, shine, become visible or clear). This is a prophet or poet. One who speaks with inspiration from God
T “Spirit” = pneuma. From pneo (to blow, breath, breathe hard). This is wind, breath, or ghost. A breeze or a blast or air, a breath. Figuratively used for a spirit, the human soul or part of us that is rational. It is also used supernaturally for angels, demons, God, and the Holy Spirit. This is where pneumonia comes from.
U “fellow heirs” = sugkleronomos. 4x in NT. Related to “commission” in v2. From sun (with, together with) + kleronomos (heir, inheritor in a literal or figurative sense; implies one who possesses something) [from kleros (lot, assigned portion, heritage); from klao (to break, break in pieces)] + the same as nomos (see note G above). This is co-inheritor, participant in common, fellow heir.
V “members of the same body” = sussomos. 1x in NT. From sun (with, together with) + soma (body, flesh, substance; also used for the Church as a body) [may be from sozo (to save, heal, preserve, rescue; deliver from danger, save or protect; can be literal or figurative); from sos (safe, rescued, well)]. This is belonging to the same body, fellow members, united in the body of Christ. Used figuratively to refer to Jews and Gentiles in one Church.
W “sharers” = summetochos. 2x in NT. From sun (with, together with) + metochos (partner, sharer, associate, active partaker) [from metecho (have a share in, participate in, be a member of) {from meta (with, among, in company with) + echo (have, hold, possess)}]. This is co-participant, joint partaker.
X “promise” = epaggelia. From epaggellomai (to proclaim, promise, profess; a fitting promise i.e. a legitimate one) [from epi (on, upon, against, fitting) + aggello (to announce, report) {from aggelos (angel, messenger); perhaps from ago (to lead, bring, carry, guide)]. This is a summons, message, promise, or pledge. It is a promise that is fitting. Legally speaking, this is a promise that is officially sanctioned. In the Bible, it is generally one of God’s promises from the Old Testament. Most often, this is a sign of grace and goodness.
Y “gospel” = euaggelion. Related to “promise” in v6. From eu (well, good, rightly) + aggelos (see note X above). This is literally “the good news,” used for the gospel. This is also where “evangelism” comes from.

7 Of this gospel I have become a servantZ according to the giftAA of God’s grace that was given me by the workingBB of his power.CC Although I am the very leastDD of all the saints,EE this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the newsFF of the boundlessGG richesHH of Christ, and to make everyone seeII what is the planJJ of the mystery hiddenKK for agesLL in God who createdMM all things; 10 so that through the church the wisdomNN of God in its rich varietyOO might now be made known to the rulersPP and authoritiesQQ in the heavenly places.RR

Notes on verses 7-10

Z “servant” = diakonos. May be from dia (through, across, because of) + konis (dust) OR from dioko (to pursue, put to flight; by implication, to persecute or chase as a hunter after their prey; can be pursuing in a positive, earnest sense or a negative one as persecution; can also be used of a runner); related to dio (put to flight). This is a servant, minister, waiter, administrator, deacon, attendant. It can be used on one who performs a service whether sacred or secular. This is where “deacon” comes from.
AA “gift” = dorea. 11x in NT. From doron (gift, present, offering; used specifically to refer to a sacrifice; emphasizes the voluntary, spontaneous nature of the gift); from didomi (to give literally or figuratively). This is a free gift – associated with benevolent motives.
BB “working” = energeia. 8x in NT. From energes (at work, active, effective, energized, powerful, effectual); [from en (in, on, at, by, with) + ergon (work, task, employment, action; a thing that is made, a worker) {from ergo (to work, accomplish)}]. This is working, activity, operation, efficiency, divine energy. In the New Testament, this is used for superhuman actions – power in action. This is where “energy” comes from.
CC “power” = dunamis. Related to “enable” in v4. From dunamai (to be able, have power or ability). This is might, strength, physical power, efficacy, energy, and miraculous power. It is force literally or figuratively – the power of a miracle or the miracle itself.
DD “very least” = elachistoteros. 1x in NT. From elachistos (least in size, quantity, dignity; smallest or just very little); from elachus (short). This is less than the least, least important.
EE “saints” = hagios. Same as “holy” in v5.
FF “bring…the news” = euaggelizo. Related to “promise” and “gospel” in v6. From eu (see note X above) + aggelos (see note X above). This is to announce or preach good news. Generally refers to the gospel.
GG “boundless” = anexichniastos. 2x in NT. From a (not, without) + exichniazo (to track out) [from ek (from, from out of) + a derivative of ichnos (track, steps, footsteps; figuratively speaking, footsteps as becoming a path to follow for those who come after) {from hikneomai (move forward, arrive)}]. This is incomprehensible, inscrutable, unfathomable, untraceable, unsearchable. This is that which cannot be retraced or explored. It is impossible to track or to fully understand.
HH “riches” = ploutos. From polus (much, many, abundant) OR from pluo (to flow) OR from pletho (to fill, fulfill, complete, supply; to fill to maximum individual capacity). This is wealth, riches or abundance. Can be material or spiritual.
II “see” = photizo. 11x in NT. From phos (light, source of light, radiance, fire; focus on what light manifests; can be natural or artificial light as well as light literally or figuratively); from phao (to shine, make manifest); from the same as phaino (bring to light, shine, cause to appear). This is shine, light up, make evident, reveal. Properly it is to enlighten literally or figuratively.
JJ “plan” = oikonomia. Same as “commission” in v2
KK “hidden” = apokrupto. 4x in NT. From apo (from, away from) + krupto (to, hide, conceal; properly, to hide something by covering it). This is fully hidden; used figuratively for keeping something secret. Krupto is the root that “cryptography” comes from.
LL “ages” = aion. From the same as aei (ever, always, unceasingly, perpetually; on every occasion). This is an age, cycle of time, course, continued duration. It is also used to describe the eternal or forever. This is the word used to discuss the present age or the messianic age.
MM “created” = ktizo. 15x in NT. This is to build, create, form, shape, make. Also used for Creator. This word always refers to God creating; figuratively, it means to begin or found – the original former.
NN “wisdom” = sophia. From sophos (skilled, wise, learned, cultivated, clever); related to saphes (clear). This is skill, wisdom, insight, intelligence, clarity. It is wise in general and also in reference to a practical skill or ability.
OO “rich variety” = polupoikilos. 1x in NT. May be related to “riches” in v8. From polus (much, many, abundant) + poikilos (many colored, diverse, manifold, varied, motley). This is having different colors, manifold, incredibly diverse with many different facets.
PP “rulers” = arche. From archomai (to begin, rule); from archo (to rule, reign, begin; be first in political position or power). This is beginning or origin as the starting point. So, it is that which comes first or at the head – what has priority. So, it is used for ruler or king or rank.
QQ “authorities” = exousia. From exesti (what is permitted or lawful); [from ek (out, out of) + eimi (to be, exist)]. This is power to act, moral authority, influence, delegated power, authorization, domain, jurisdiction, liberty, force, capacity, competency, right, mastery, strength.
RR “heavenly places” = epouranios. 19x in NT. From epi (on, upon, fitting) + ouranos (air, the sky, the atmosphere, and heaven. It is the sky that is visible and the spiritual heaven where God dwells. Heaven implies happiness, power, and eternity) [may be related to oros (mountain, hill)]. This is heavenly, celestial, heavenly one or thing, high. It can also mean divine or spiritual. Properly, this is that which is fitting from a heavenly perspective.

11 This was in accordance with the eternalSS purposeTT that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,UU 12 in whom we have accessVV to God in boldnessWW and confidenceXX through faithYY in him.

Notes on verses 11-12

SS “eternal” = aion. Same as “ages” in v9
TT “purpose” = prothesis. 12x in NT. From protithemi (to set before, propose, purpose, design, pre-determine, display publicly, plan) [from pro (before, in front of, earlier than, above, ahead, prior) + tithemi (to place, lay, set, put, establish)]. This is predetermination, purpose, setting forth. Used figuratively for a proposal and specifically for the showbread in the Temple.
UU “Lord” = kurios. From kuros (authority, supremacy). This is a respectful address meaning master or sir. It refers to one who has control or power greater than one’s own. So, it was also applied to God and Jesus as Master or Lord.
VV “access” = prosagoge. Related to “promise” & “gospel” in v6 & “bring…the news” in v8. 3x in NT. From prosago (to bring to, lead to, approach, present, draw near) [from pros (a, to, toward) + ago (see note X above)]. This is drawing near someone and having access to a face to face interaction. Can be approach, admission, introduction, or access.
WW “boldness” = parresia. From pas (all, every, the whole) + rhesis (speech) [from rheo (command, say, speak of)]. This is confidence, freedom, openness, boldness. It is openness particularly as relates to speech – so, outspokenness, frankness, bluntness. It can mean confidence, resolve, or assurance.
XX “confidence” = pepoithesis. 6x in NT. From peitho (to have confidence, urge, be persuaded, agree, assure, believe, have confidence, trust). This is confidence, trust, reliance. Properly, it refers to persuasion. Sometimes used of human confidence, but more often of persuasion that comes from the Holy Spirit.
YY “faith” = pistis. Related to “confidence” in v12. From peitho (see note XX above). This is less about knowing, believing, and repeating a list of doctrines then it is about trusting God. Faith means listening to God and seeking to live a holy life even (and especially) when we don’t understand how everything works or fits together. Faith is about being faithful (trusting and doing) rather than being all knowing.

Image Credit: “On the Road to Damascus: The Conversion of Saint Paul” by A.N. Mironov, 2011, Russian.

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