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Ephesians Chapter Three


I. Content of the Chapter


The Minister of the Church

A.   The commitment and responsibility of the administration (v.1-2)

B.   The revelation and content of the mystery (v.3-6)

C.   What is given and entrusted to the minister (v.7-11)

D.   The faith and tribulations of the minister (v.12-13)


The Prayer of the Apostle for the Church ---- Which Speaks of the Necessary Experience for us

A.   That we shall be strengthened with might in the inner man (v.14-16)

B.   That Christ may dwell in our hearts (v.17)

C.   That we shall be rooted and grounded in love so that we shall be able to comprehend the surpassing fullness of Christ to us (v.18)

D.   That we shall know the love of Christ (v.19a)

E.   That we shall be filled with the fullness of God (v.19b)

F.    That we shall know the power of God that works in us (v.20)

G.   That we shall know the relation of the church with the glory of God (v.21)


II. Verse by Verse commentary


Eph. 3:1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles--

YLT: “For this cause, I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you the nations,”

Literal Meaning: for this reason”: it means that this paragraph relates to the truth mentioned in the previous two chapters.

“For you Gentiles”, it indicates that Paul was imprisoned because of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, but it aroused the wrath among the Jews.

“The prisoner of Christ Jesus”, it also indicates that Paul was imprisoned for the sake of Christ. Apparently, Paul was a prisoner in the jail of Rome, but he considered himself a “prisoner of Christ Jesus”. He was willing to lose his freedom on account of Christ. Paul meant that if we saw the real meaning of his being imprisoned and took a proper attitude towards this matter, we would realize the glory of the Christian life.

“Pray for you”, this phrase is not in the original manuscript, but is added by the Bible translators according to the meaning of verse 14, because the paragraph from verse 2 to 13 is a paragraph that branches off to another topic, which is marked off with parenthetical words. For this reason, verse 14 is a continuation of verse 1.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)       Paul considered that it was Christ Himself whom Paul had seen in his vision that confined him and took away his freedom, not the Roman’s prison.

2)       The life of Christians is indeed glorious and amazing! It is far more precious in comparison to our individual’s freedom, and even more precious than our life!

3)       We could see from this verse, Paul did not have any sigh of complain for his imprisonment. On the contrary, he considered it as a kind of glory.

4)       Only those who peacefully enjoy Christ as our prison can have the eyes of their hearts opened and see the heavenly vision.

5)       If our actions” have still not been sufficiently confined, perhaps our vision is not sufficiently clear.

6)       Paul said that his being imprisoned was for the sake of the saints ---- every experience that we meet in our surrounding does not only relate to us individually, but also to the saints who have been entrusted to us by God.

7)       All the real workers of God have to some extent some forms of suffering in the physical body (Col. 1:24). The more we suffer for the sake of the Lord, the more riches of Christ we can supply to others.


Eph. 3:2 if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you,

YLT: “if, indeed, ye did hear of the dispensation of the grace of God that was given to me in regard to you,”

Meaning of Words: if indeed”: if truly; “dispensation”: plan, arrangement, management, administration, stewardship;

The Background: Paul had been in Ephesus for a rather long period of time (Acts 19:10). Saints in Ephesus were quite familiar with his works. Therefore, the expression indeed you have heard…” (it has a tone of presumption) might be an evidence that this book was originally an official letter, which was not specifically written for the saints in Ephesus.

Literal Meaning: the dispensation of the grace of God”,grace”, God makes men enjoy the unsearchable riches of Christ in Christ. Therefore, the dispensation of the grace of God”, those who faithfully manage and operate the riches of Christ can make other believers obtain such grace of enjoying Christ.

The whole verse shows that Paul is one who have been entrusted by God to share the grace of God with the Gentile believers

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)      Concerning the ministry of being a servant of God, a successful minister requires not only ability, learning, eloquence, but also a loving heart toward man.

2)      If we do not have a heart concerning for the souls of man, we cannot be “fishers of men.”

3)      We can see from this verse, “dispensation” itself is actually a kind of gift of grace! The dispensation is given by the gift of grace, which suggests us that ---- if God calls someone to do His work, He must give him certain gift(s) of grace.

4)      A worker selected and called by God must have been entrusted by God.

5)      If a man has been truly entrusted by God, those who are far or near him will definitely realize or hear the commitment of God to him.

6)      What God has entrusted to us is a portion of grace rather than a heavy burden.

7)      The grace of God is not given for our own extravagant enjoyment, but for the purpose of sharing with others with all gladness as well.


Eph. 3:3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already,

YLT: “that by revelation He made known to me the secret, according as I wrote before in few --”

Meaning of Words: “revelation”: to unveil the stage curtain; “briefly”: slightly.

Literal Meaning: revelation”: to unveil the mystery that was previously hidden for all to know.

“The mystery”, it refers to the plan that was hidden in God. According to the context, the mystery refers to the mystery of Christ (v. 4), which is that the Gentiles will have part in one body in Christ (v.6), namely, the church (v. 9-10). The church was originally a mystery. However, God has now already revealed this mystery to His holy apostles, who have also taught and revealed them to the rest of the saints afterwards.

“As I have briefly written already”, there are two meanings: (1) it refers to the previous two chapters of this epistle. (2) It spoke of another epistle written to the church in Ephesus but was lost.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    People often mistakenly regard the word “mystery” as something that is very nebulous, uncertain, difficult to ascertain or define, or something that can be called “secret”.

2)    This verse tells us that this mystery has already been revealed to us and for all to know.

3)    The wiles of Satan is to make the truth of the Christianity into mysterious doctrine (Rev. 2:24) so that it will mislead the weak Christians willfully (Eph. 4:14).


Eph. 3:4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ),

YLT: “in regard to which ye are able, reading , to understand my knowledge in the secret of the Christ,”

Meaning of Words: read”: to openly read aloud, read out in the presence of the public; understand”: to realize, comprehend, sees clearly, fully realize with keen observation, deep and thorough comprehension, and understand clearly.

Literal Meaning: the mystery of Christ”, the mystery of God is Christ (Col. 2:2). The mystery of Christ is the church. This mystery is explained in details in verse 6 of this chapter. In brief, it is both the Gentile believers and the Jewish believers that have become fellow heirs and that have part in the mysterious body of Christ, and that are joint-partakers of God’s promise.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Paul neither boasts nor hides what has been granted to him, but cares only for the glory of God and then does what he has to do and says what he needed to say.

2)    If a Christian purposely hides excessively the spiritual vision of him, it possibly stems from the self-humility, which still carries the will of his “self” but partly ignores the glory of God.


Eph. 3:5 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:

YLT: “which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it was now revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit --”

Meaning of Words: “revealed”: to make known, reveal clearly;

Literal Meaning: other ages”, it refers to the Old Testament times.

“Was not made known to the sons of men”, it did not mean that God in the Old Testament times had never mentioned the mystery concerning the church (in the Old Testament, there were also some passages pertaining to the typifications of the church and prophesies). Here it means that the degree of the revelation in the past was as neither sufficient nor obvious as the present revelation.

“Now”, it refers to the New Testament age.

“Holy apostles”, refer to those who are sent by; “prophets” speak of those who speak for God. All the truth of God in the New Testament has already been revealed to the holy apostles and prophets. After the completion of the book of the Revelation, the revelation of God is finished and perfected. No one can add to or diminish from it (Rev. 22:18-19).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    “Apostles and prophets” are both in plural also in the original. It does not mean that this mystery is revealed to the apostle Paul alone and the rest of the apostles and prophets do not know anything about it at all.

2)    If we have not received any revelation from God, we can neither know God nor His mystery. Therefore, we have to pray that the Lord will grant to us the “Spirit of wisdom and revelation” (Eph. 1:17).

3)    The intention of God in revealing His mystery to us is not that we can be spiritually arrogant, but that we would spread it on to others, that they may know this mystery, have a share in our midst, and be co-laborers with God, until God’s purpose is fully fulfilled in us.


Eph. 3:6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel,

YLT: “that the nations be fellow-heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in the Christ, through the good news,”

Meaning of Words: fellow”: to unite together, fellowship, to be included; “heirs”: to dispense lot; partakers”: share, participate in;

Literal Meaning: fellow heirs”, it points to not only having the Father’s life, but also gaining all the privileges of son, who has the authority of inheriting the Father’s inheritance.

“Of the same body”, become one body together, namely, the mystical body of Christ ---- the church;

“Partakers of His promise”, here the “promise” is singular, which refers to all the spiritual blessings as a whole that God in Christ has promised to the church.

The above-mentioned three kinds of blessings include all the blessings in both the Old and the New Testaments. The Old Testament blessings can only be enjoyed by the children of Israel. But the New Testament blessings can be both enjoyed by the Jews and the Gentiles.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    In Christ, there is no distinction between the Jews and the Gentiles. We, the Gentile believers, are not second-class citizens, but have the same position as the Jewish believers.

2)    There is no acceptance of persons with God. His grace is totally open to various kinds of people, and no matter who can appropriate His grace.


Eph. 3:7 of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.

YLT: “of which I became a ministrant, according to the gift of the grace of God that was given to me, according to the working of His power;”

Meaning of Words: minister”: attendant, servant, messenger, waiter; according to”: based on; “working”: usage, function; power”: energy, impelling strength, lively power; “given”: gives or grants;

Literal Meaning: “I became a minister”, it is for the good of others, especially referring to those who minister the gospel into people.

“The gift of the grace of God”, according to the original manuscript, it is “the gracious gift of the grace of God”. It is grace that God has given Himself to us. And it is the “gracious gifts” that God has also freely given us the spiritual instinct.

“The effective working of His power”, in the life that God has given us, there is the effective working of His risen power. The gracious gift comes into being through the operation of this power.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The service of preaching the gospel is an honorable privilege, which shows God’s gracious favor upon us.

2)    The gracious gifts that God had given to Paul made Paul a minister of the gospel, and the gift was also the basis for his being a minister of the gospel.

3)    Paul said that what was behind his work was the effective and living power of God. If God gives us any kind of responsibility, He will also give us the necessary grace.

4)    Whatever kind of gracious gifts we have received from God shows what kind of responsibilities He will give us.

5)    The gift of God not only gives grace to the recipients, but also makes the power work in the recipients so that they will be able to receive.


Eph. 3:8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,

YLT: “to me -- the less than the least of all the saints -- was given this grace, among the nations to proclaim good news -- the untraceable riches of the Christ,”

Meaning of Words: unsearchable”: footprints that cannot be tracked down, untraceable, can not keep up with a horse race;

Literal Meaning: who am less than the least of all the saints”, the least of all. It meant that it was not that he had any special qualifications that enabled him to receive of the unique grace of God.

“The unsearchable riches of Christ”, the riches in Christ are unsearchable to men.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Paul did not say that he was less than the least of the apostles, but he was less than the least of all saints. It indicated that we could also receive whatever grace he had received. Each brother and sister could receive the same grace that Paul had received. Therefore, do not maintain that the achievements of Paul are unattainable.

2)    The more a believer grows in his spiritual life and his experiences, the more humble he will be and the more he will see himself clearly.

3)    Only to the humble saints will the Holy Spirit teach and make them comprehend how unsearchable the riches of Christ are.

4)    Those who truly wish to serve the church must preach the riches of Christ. And those who preach the riches of Christ intently are truly the ministers of the church who present real supply and edification to the church.

5)    The gospel neither tells us what we should do, nor asks us to do anything, but tells us what God has given us and what we have received from Him. The central message of the gospel is none other than Christ Himself.

6)    The gospel is not about some fragmentary truth about Christ. The glorious gospel of God is this unlimitedly abundant Christ Himself.

7)    Man’s knowledge cannot compare to the revelation of God. The riches of Christ are unsearchable and untraceable. Man can never understand Christ if he relies on himself.

8)    The riches of Christ are inexhaustible and will never be drained. No matter how much or how often we receive them, the riches of Christ will be still as full as the beginning.

9)    We should ask for the help of God that we shall no longer live like beggars and shall be no longer in poverty, deficit, hardship, fright, or instability. This world provides us with a most suitable opportunity to preach theunsearchable riches of Christ” to men.

10)  When we preach Christ to others, it is often a little of Him, not the unsearchable riches of Christ.

11)  People in the world judge Christ according to what they have seen in us. If the impression we leave on men is that whenever we encounter a crisis, our status of being Christians makes no difference, they will not listen to our message of the gospel, nor will they gaze upon the Christ.

12)  If we have the privilege to speak for God or do a work for Him, we must remember ---- the greatness of us does not lie in ourselves, but the message and the work given to us by God.

13)  The pitiful situation today is that people are only concerned about their own reputation, but not exalt Christ. They put themselves under the flashing light, but hide Christ in the shadow.


Eph. 3:9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ;

YLT: “and to cause all to see what the fellowship of the secret that hath been hid from the ages in God, who the all things did create by Jesus Christ,”

Meaning of Words: see”: to illuminate, illumine clearly, illumination ray in… above; hidden”: covered, buried; “fellowship”: stewardship, plan;

Literal Meaning: to make all see”, to cause man to be enlighten, i.e. to receive revelation.

“What is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things”, God had a plan before the creation of the world of gaining a group of men to be the body of His Son ---- the church ---- to manifest Christ. However, this plan was hidden in God and was unknown to all the created things. Therefore, it was a hidden mystery.

“What is the fellowship”, God has His dispensation and management in the universe ---- that is to accomplish the mystery which was firstly hidden in Him.

In the Old Testament ages, the mystery concerning the church was not known clearly to any person. But now through the preaching of the apostles, all of us will be enlightened and come to know how the hidden mystery is gradually carried out.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Paul said that part of the work he had been called to do was to “make all see” the heart of men, thus causing them to see the will of God. It unveils men’s hearts toward God are still dark.

2)    The work of preaching the gospel is not only preaching Christ, but also making man to see. Therefore, preaching of the gospel should enlighten and reveal others and manifest to them what they have to see.

3)    “God who created all things”, it indicates that this world belongs to God who created them. If we want to understand the current world’s situation and what is going on in this world, we must see from the perspective of God.

4)    The world today is not in accordance with the original will of God who created them. This is a world that has lost its normal state, but “God who created all things” has a plan ---- He has determined to restore this world back to its perfect order. Therefore, He will use the church as a new creation to attain to such goal of Him.


Eph. 3:10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,

YLT: “that there might be made known now to the principalities and the authorities in the heavenly, through the assembly, the manifold wisdom of God,”

Meaning of Words: manifold”: much variegated, multifarious, many-sided (like the many sides of the diamond, which can reflect its radiance and increase its beauty);

Literal Meaning: the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, it refers to various social strata and levels of angels in the heavenly places. Perhaps, it also includes Satan and its fallen angels. What God has planned for the church will not only be shown to people in this world, but also for all the strata of angels (1 Cor. 4:9; 11:10).

“The manifold wisdom of God”, God’s wisdom is multifarious, the manifold wisdom. This chapter indicates that the abundant wisdom is revealed in the plan of God toward the church.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The church is God’s vessel ---- not only sinners on the earth shall be saved through her preaching the gospel, but also shall the angels in the heavenly places know God’s manifold wisdom through the church.

2)    Since the church is the masterpiece of God’s wisdom, how then can we neglect God’s heart toward the church? 

3)    It is “now” that God wants others to know His manifold wisdom in the church. Therefore, the church has to be built here on the earth today. And it is not until the future that the glory of the church shall be revealed.

4)    We can say that the church on the earth today will be the all in all in the coming new heavens and earth. She is the model of heading up all things as one in Christ. Therefore, we should not overlook the value of the church today.

5)    The multifarious, abundant and colorful wisdom of God will be completely manifested through the church. The church is like a three-faceted prism, which unfolds the mixed color spectrum of the wisdom of God.

6)    The word “manifold” used by Paul means “multifarious in color” in the original. It means that the wisdom and grace of God can handle all the various circumstances in our lives. No matter they are bright or dark (good or bad), sunshine or shadow, God can make us more than conquerors.


Eph. 3:11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,

YLT: “according to a purpose of the ages, which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord,”

Meaning of Words: eternal”: for generations, eternal, before time began; “purpose”: decision, aim;

Literal Meaning: according to the eternal purpose”, it spoke of God’s plan that He had made before the creation of the world or the eternal purpose of God.

“In Christ Jesus our Lord”, it meant that God’s purpose was made in Christ Jesus and would be worked out or taken effect in Christ at the appointed time.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    God has the timetable for His will. God will accomplish His purpose, no matter how long it takes. Therefore we cannot tell the success or failure of God’s purpose according to the present state.

2)    Many times, men believed that the church had already failed and had come to a dead end. And many times, men ridiculed the church, mocked her, and even nearly buried her. However, just the moment when they were about to put her into the grave, all of a sudden the church was raised and had another revival! Thus God once again revealed His wisdom.


Eph. 3:12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.

YLT: “in whom we have the freedom and the access in confidence through the faith of him,”

Meaning of Words: boldness … with confidence”: confidently without fear, open and frank, with a brave heart; through faith”: truly trust, have faith, being self-confident; access”: have the open channel to approach, through guidance, admission authority;

Literal Meaning: in Whom … through faith in Him”, the plan that God had accomplished was so mysterious and lofty, yet in Christ we can have part in this plan. What great grace it is!

“Boldness … with confidence”, it means there is neither fear, nor terror, nor worry about being rejected. It also means being free from all evil thoughts that may hinder our prayers. In short, there is not any form of restriction or fear.

“Through faith”, it means that we have already obtained a kind of self-confidence because of our past experiences. We are fully sure of being accepted by God.

“Access”, it means that since we have received a special privilege, we will be sure that He must accept us and He delights in drawing near to us, so we can approach God without any hindrance.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    True faith is based on one thing, namely, Christ Himself. He is both the basis of our faith and the object of our faith.

2)    Though we definitely have the privilege of approaching God, it is not based on ourselves, but Christ who has brought us before God. We cannot pray nor come before God unless by our Savior Jesus Christ.

3)    The only way for us to come to God confidently is that we know the Son of God has borne our sins on the cross and has suffered the punishment for our transgressions.

4)    If we want to come to God boldly with confidence, we must never rely on our own feelings or sentiment, for they are definitely unreliable. What are reliable only are Christ Himself and His accomplished salvation.

5)    Paul came boldly with confidence to God in order to bow his knee (v. 14) before God. It reminds us that our boldness to approach God does not equal to brazenness, and true faith does not mean rashness. We can never be impolite or impudent when coming before God.

6)    Though we have the privilege to come before God, it does not mean that we can arrogantly come before the Almighty God. We have to always approach Him with full humility, being conscious of the fact that this is a great privilege.


Eph. 3:13 Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

YLT: “wherefore, I ask not to faint in my tribulations for you, which is your glory.”

Meaning of Words: tribulations”: pressure, extrusion, narrow, distress; lose heart”: depressed, feel surrendered, dejected;

Literal Meaning: therefore”, it indicates that what he is about to say next is a conclusion of the foregoing paragraph.

“I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you”, Paul said that he became a prisoner because of seeing the mysterious revelation of God. Therefore, we should not lose heart.

“Which is your glory”, if we Christians are suffered for the purpose of having part in God’s plan, these are matters of manifesting God and glorifying Him (1 Pet. 4:14-16).

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The ministers of Christ will definitely have part in the tribulations of Christ. However, such tribulations are of glory, proving that they are really united with the crucified Christ.

2)    When a servant of God is undergoing sufferings for the Lord, if it is taken as a shame in the sight of other believers, it will make the servants of God feel most painful.


Eph. 3:14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

YLT: “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,”

Meaning of Words: bow my knees”: to bend the knees like a camel;

The Background: In the old times, the Jews normally stood while praying (Mk. 11:25, Luke 18:11,13), and sometimes they knelt down to pray, especially when they were in the midst of tribulations or when their hearts are extremely troubled (Dan. 6:10, Luke 22:41, Mk. 10:17). Therefore, the gesture of kneeling down to pray shows special respect or that there may be serious situations.

Literal Meaning: for this reason”, it indicates a connection of the context above concerning the mystery of the church of God.

“I bow my knees to the Father”, “Father” has two meanings: (1) He is our origin. (2) We are born of God.

The apostle probably realized what he said in this epistle was not easily understood by some believers. Therefore he bowed his knees to pray for them. “Bow my knees”, it expressed both humility and sincerity.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    “Bow my knees” represents extremely deep awe, gratitude, humility, and an attitude of submission. When a creature truly realizes its insignificance and being unworthy of anything, and the vastness of God’s grace and the infinite power, the lofty glory, it will very naturally have such psychological and physiological reaction.

2)    It is possible that one may have bowed down their knees outwardly, yet he has not truly bent his knees in his heart. The hypocritical worship will not be accepted by God. 

3)    To bow our knees in prayer is a sharp weapon in our spiritual wars. The devil is most afraid of Christians knees.

4)    We Christians ought to often have the shape like a camel’s knee before God.

5)    The apostle Paul used “for this reason” three times in this epistle to start a prayer (Eph. 1:15, 3; 1, 14). This reveals that regardless of what kind of circumstance it is, it can be turned into prayer by Paul. However, for those who do pray, any circumstance may become an excuse for not praying.

6)    “To the Father” means “being face to face with the Father”. Once we understand that we are face to face with God when praying, we cannot help from vowing our knees. It is our bended knees that make us meet God face to face.


Eph. 3:15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

YLT: “of whom the whole family in the heavens and on earth is named,”

Meaning of Words: family”: household, family link (referring to all the generations and progeny that issue from one single father, that is, belonging to the same origin).

Literal Meaning: the whole family in heaven and earth is named”, the angels are of one family, the children of Israel are of one family, the Gentiles are of one family, and we the believers in Christ are also another family. Whatever or whoever are created by God or produced by God are members of His “family.”

“From Whom… is named”, “is named”, it means giving a name. All things that are created by God receive their names from the Creator... just like those who are born receive their names from the parents who give birth to them.

“…is named”, it also means to receive blessings from Him, because His blessings are included in His Name.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    We Christians have to constantly remember that the name that we have received is the name of God. We are glorified in His Name!

2)    May that we can realize that we live on this earth representing our heavenly Father’s family. His name covers us. Therefore, we must never ever bring shame to His name.


Eph. 3:16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,

YLT: “that He may give to you, according to the riches of His glory, with might to be strengthened through His Spirit, in regard to the inner man,”

Meaning of Words: be strengthened”: staunched, have power, strong;

Literal Meaning: riches of His glory”, glory is the manifestation of God. Through each family in the heaven and on the earth, God manifests Himself through various ways. Therefore, His glory is rich and abundant.

“According to the riches of His glory”, God works on us according to the riches of glory.

“Through His Spirit”, His Spirit is the Holy Spirit, which has the power of life. God works through the Holy Spirit within believers, causing them to have the spiritual experiences.

“The inner man”, it refers to the new life in the spirit after a man’s being born again. It is our inner being as well as the spiritual part, including the thoughts of new man, will, spirit ---- this inner man is in Christ.

“To be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man”, the spiritual new life of the believers is immature and weak, and it should be grown up to be strong.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)      What we have manifested outside is according to what we are inside. Whether our inner man is strong or weak determines whether our testimony is good or bad.

2)      To be strengthened in our inner man is not caused by human effort or human will, but the pure work of the Holy Spirit. Men may pretend to be strong outwardly, yet they are weak inwardly. Only through the work of the Holy Spirit can we naturally be strong in our inner man.

3)      When the inner man is strong, he will easily overcome temptations, obey the Holy Spirit and become a spiritual man.

4)      Whatever we lack in our inner man, God can give us according to His own essence and gives to us abundantly.

5)      The characteristics of Paul’s prayer: a) It was definitely spiritual ---- what he was concerned about was the spiritual condition of the saints, not physical enjoyment. b) It was concrete and specific: his prayer was not empty or reckless, but was concrete and full of content.

6)      The way that we Christians deal with the difficulties in life is not taking some actions in hurry, but focusing on our spiritual condition. We Christians shall deal with our difficulties through the Holy Spirit who provides us strength and resistance.


Eph. 3:17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,

YLT: “that the Christ may dwell through the faith in your hearts, in love having been rooted and founded,”

Meaning of Words: dwell”: completely live together, to calm down, to stay, to stay in permanently, to settle down (this “dwell in” is not once for all, but a continual process. In fact, this word implies a long-term process, which is different from the temporary residence.); rooted and grounded”: to take root and to establish a base, to cause to take root and to lay a foundation;

Literal Meaning: through faith”, faith means having touched the spiritual reality within. Our faith is Christ rules and reigns within us according to our faith.

“Dwell in your hearts”, it means dominating and reigning in our hearts. “Heart” in the Bible usually refers to the center part of a man. It not only refers to the emotional part, but also includes our thoughts, our rationality and our will. We may say that it is the castle of our soul.

“That you, being rooted and grounded in love”,rooted” means that we are the plants planted by God, while “grounded” implies that we are a house built by Him (1 Cor. 3:9). We should abide in love in order to be rooted and grounded, and this love is the fruit of Christ’s dwelling in our hearts.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)      Once the inner man is strengthened (v.16), one shall have great faith. The Lord can make His dwelling in the one who has great faith and reigns in him.

2)      Faith and love are the conditions for us to experience Christ. We know Christ in faith, and enjoy Him in love.

3)      Although faith is before love, it is not the basis of love. Christ is the real basis of our love.

4)      Faith makes us believe that “Christ dwells in our heart” ---- this is a reality rather than merely a slogan. Those who are in need of faith cannot believe this reality.

5)      Paul does not pray for us whether we have love or not, for as the children of God, we more or less have love.

6)      Our problem is that our love is not deeply rooted. Love that is not deeply rooted cannot be trusted, because it constantly changes.

7)      Love that is well rooted and grounded is the love that can bear tests. If love has not been tested, one cannot tell whether it is real or false, whether it is merely a theoretical slogan or a reality. Have our love been tested?

8)      Being rooted and grounded are something deep and something sought by the Lord. We cannot have only the superficial love concerning the testimony of the church.

9)      True love comes from the Lord. Only those who have the Lord dwelling in their hearts have the reliable and deep love. If it were not because of Christ, we could not possibly love those whom we consider to be unlovable.

10)   Although the Lord had entered us the moment when we received Him, we still had to unceasingly vacate more room in our heart to let Him fill every corner of our hearts.

11)   The secret of obtaining power is to let Christ “dwell” in our hearts or let Christ govern all things in our lives.


Eph. 3:18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height--

YLT: “that ye may be in strength to comprehend, with all the saints, what the breadth, and length, and depth, and height,”

Meaning of Words: be able to”: great ability, outstanding ability; comprehend”: to capture, obtain, or comprehend;

Literal Meaning: to comprehend with all the saints”, the love of Christ and Himself are indeed immeasurably broad and extensive. From our own personal experiences, we can comprehend only a limited part of Him, so we have to comprehend with all the saints together.

“Comprehend”, it speaks of the understanding in mind, containing the meaning of attentively grasping with your heart” or giving firm assurance in your psyche.

“What is the width and length and depth and height”, there are a few explanations as follows: (1) It points to the love of Christ ---- it is the widest capacity, and its width encompasses all the nations on the earth (Matt. 5:45). It has the longest time, and its length is endless (Jer. 31:3). It has the deepest degree, and it is deeper than the sufferings and the sins of man (Rom. 8:35). Its nature in “height” is far transcending and higher than the heavens (Ps. 103:11). (2) It refers to Christ Himself who is immeasurable and limitless. The believers knowledge and experiences of Christ start from one dimension like a dot then extend to be a line in “width”. Later, they progresses unceasingly, forming a two-dimensional plane surface with “length”. They will next turn to three-dimensional space. At last, they will be increased upward, thus presenting the immeasurably transcending heavenly measure. c) It refers to God’s plan of saving man. “Width” is like the present world we live in, but without the boundary of north, south, east and west. “Length” likes the flow of life of men, beginning from Adam to those who are yet unborn. “Depth” as the gates of hades, even the most vicious sinners can be saved out of there. “Height”, as the highest of heavens, makes those who have received the Lord’s grace sit together with Christ in the heavenly places.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)      Only when we love others to the furthest extent that we can not give more love will we know how tremendous the love of Christ towards us is.

2)      Not only do we need to be gathered with the saints, but also we need to apprehend Christ. Thus, without the life of the body, there is no possibility for us to fully apprehend Christ. Even though one has apprehended, it is also deficient.

3)      Living an independent life is a barrier for a believer to apprehend the love of Christ. Do not treat the understanding of Christ’s love as a matter of individual experience.

4)      What our inner capacity is within, Christ will fill to the brim according to our capacity, because Christ is unlimited!

5)      The love of Christ far exceeds what man can comprehend. Moreover, Christ’s love continues to enlarge and unfold, surpassing beyond the scope of all our experiences.

6)      The more we seek to comprehend the love of Christ, the deeper and the more we will obtain, and the more blessings we will receive.


Eph. 3:19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

YLT: “to know also the love of the Christ that is exceeding the knowledge, that ye may be filled -- to all the fullness of God;”

Meaning of Words: to know”: the knowledge we gain from our experiences; passes”: surpassing, exceeding; “filled”: sufficient and full, to perfect, complete; fullness”: plentiful, sumptuous, ample, grow to the full extent;

Literal Meaning: to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge”, although we have only a little knowledge, the love of Christ surpasses the knowledge and is beyond what men can comprehend and imagine. However, when we are truly experiencing Christ, we can know this love.

“All the fullness of God”, it stands for the totality of God’s energy, strength and attributes.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Only when we see the deep poverty of our own love, there will produce the real humility in us, thus being filled with all the fullness of God.

2)    The church should live a life that is filled with the fullness of God. Yet sadly, the church today often fails to manifest the fullness of God.


Eph. 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,

YLT: “and to Him who is able above all things to do exceeding abundantly what we ask or think, according to the power that is working in us,”

Meaning of Words: works”: to work, to produce effect, starts, to be moved; “exceedingly abundantly”: infinitely many, surpassing super abundance; “to do”: to operate, to create;

Literal Meaning: the power that works in us”, this power is the power of God in the risen life, that is, the impelling force of God in our life, not the power of creation. The creative power of God is mainly for arranging and preparing our environment. The risen power of God is for guiding us in our life.

“Exceedingly abundantly”: extremely full or very abundant.

“That works”, it refers to the works of God in us inwardly, not outwardly.

Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The secret of the Christians’ walking is “His power which works in me mightily” (Col. 1:29). The power of God that works in us is a living power. If we obey and follow it, it will definitely produce in us an incomparable result.

2)    God does not make us be seated without moving any finger, and wait for His mighty power to do all things for us. But rather He makes us be perfected according to His working in our hearts through His power.

3)    We must firstly have “asking” and “thinking” before God’s doing exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. If we neither ask nor think, God cannot do anything for us.

4)    We need not only ask and think, and what we ask should not be smooth circumstances and what we think not be worldly blessings, but spiritual achievements and the advancement of works. Thus, God will do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think for us according to the power that works in us.

5)    A spiritually sloppy man who is idle in seeking spiritual things can never draw from the promise of God in this verse.


Eph. 3:21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

YLT: “to Him the glory in the assembly in Christ Jesus, to all the generations of the age of the ages. Amen.”

Literal Meaning: in the church by Christ Jesus”, it reveals the intimate oneness between Christ and the church.

“Be glory in the church”, that God is glorified in the church” means God is manifested in all the saints. As people see the church, they see God, so they will give glory to God. Moreover, that God is glorified “in Christ” speaks of not only the church, but also each household, because Christ is the head of the church and all things. God in Christ Jesus manifests His glory through all things (Rom. 1:20).

“To all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” ---- Concerning the time, the glory of God is not limited to the age of the church but to all generations and forever. In terms of space, it is also not limited to the church, and includes all things as well. Therefore, whether in terms of time or space, they are both boundless, and all glory should be given to God.


III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons


The Mystery of the Church

A.  Which is related to Christ (v.4)

B.  Which is the accomplished according to the eternal purpose of God (v.11)

C.  Which was hidden in the past (v.5,9)

D.  Which is revealed now (v.3,5)

E.  Which is partaken by both the Gentiles and the Israel (v.6)

F.  The purpose ---- “the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places (v.10)”


The Minister of the Church

A.   Who is for the saints (v.1-2)

B.   Who works according to the dispensation of the grace of God (v.2)

C.   Who works according to the gift of the grace of God (v.2,8)

D.   Who works according to the effective power of God within (v.7)

E.   Who knows the mystery of Christ by revelation (v.3-4)

F.    Who preaches the unsearchable riches of Christ (v.8)

G.   Who make others known that the dispensation to the church according to the mysterious counsel of God (v.9)

H.   Who has tribulations (v.1,13)

I.      Who partakes such ministration is the mystery of the gospel (v.7)


The Wings for Believers to Spread out

A.   The wings of prayer ---- the private prayer and the public prayer (v.14,20)

B.   The wings of power ---- the glory of God and the Spirit of God (v.16)

C.   The wings of faith ---- faithfulness and faith (v.17)

D.   The wings of love ---- loving God and loving men (v.17)

E.   The wings of understanding ---- know individually and know with others together (v.18)

F.    The wings of fullness ---- God’s filling and men’s being filled (v.19)

G.   The wings of fulfillment ---- what we ask and what we think (v.20)


The Seven Testimonies that Christ Abides in us

A.  There is the cross (v.1)

B.  There is the life of prayer (v.1).

C.  There is the revelation of Christ (v.3).

D.  There is the minister of the gospel (v.7).

E.  Be strengthened with might in the inner man (v.16).

F.  Be rooted and grounded in love (v.17).

G.  Be powerful in prayer (v.20-21).


The Mystery in Christ

A.   The spiritual meaning of this mystery:

1.    The hidden will of God (v.9) ---- in God

2.    The manifold wisdom of God (v.10) ---- through the church

3.    The counsel of redemption (v.11) ---- the eternal purpose

4.    The revelation through the Spirit (v.5) ---- be made known to men

B.   The function of this mystery (v.6):

1.    Be fellow heirs

2.    Be of the same body

3.    Be partakers of His promise

C.   The ultimate purpose of this mystery (v.12-13):

1.    Have boldness in Christ

2.    With confidence in Christ

3.    Be wholly for the glory of God in Christ


The Reality in Christ

A.   The quality of the reality (v.14-16) ---- the love of God

B.   The measure of the reality (v.18) ---- the love of Christ and what is the width and length and depth and height

C.   The stature of the reality (v.16-17):

1.    The inner man

2.    Be strengthened

3.    Dwell in those who are in Christ through faith

D.   The power of the reality (v.17-21:)

1.    Be able to build up;

2.    Be able to penetrate;

3.    Be able to fill;

4.    Be able to accomplish;

5.    Be able to glorify God;


── Caleb HuangChristian Digest Bible Commentary Series

   Translated by Overcomer Wu & Mary Zhou