Vol. 15 No. 15
As always, the eternal purpose of God is accomplished through Christ. Jesus is the Star witness of the appeal trial of the Angelic Conflict.
Eph 3:11, “This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“This was in accordance with the eternal purpose,” is from the Preposition, KATA, “according to,” with the Noun AION for “ages,” and the Noun PROTHESIS that means, “setting forth, presentation, or purpose.” It has the idea of a public presentation to demonstrate something. In Aristotle PROTHESIS, literally, “presentation,” is used in rhetoric for the statement of a case. In other classical writers it frequently denotes a deliberate plan or scheme.
In the Greek this reads “according to the purpose of the ages,” which once again gives us a dispensational perspective of theology. It tells us that God had a specific plan and purpose that has now been revealed. That plan was to hide the mystery doctrines from the previous dispensations and now reveal them in the Church Age. The emphasis here is on the revelation of the mystery doctrine for the Church Age during the Church Age.
Paul has more than its conception and predetermination in mind here. He is concerned with its historical realization. So the emphasis is on the “making known of the manifold wisdom of God to the fallen angels through the Church, NOW!” It also tells us that God’s administration of human history resolves the Angelic Conflict. Therefore, the revelation of the mystery doctrines for the Church Age to the fallen angelic hierarchy is God’s purpose.
Even though God had planned this from “before the creation of the world,” Eph 1:4-5, He did not reveal these facts until He allowed Paul the glorious privilege of making this truth known to the world at the beginning of the Church Age. In that light, the decrees of God are constructed around dispensations of human history. That is why we have PROTHESIS here with the descriptive genitive of AION for “the ages or dispensations.”
This emphasizes the importance of understanding what day and age we are currently living in so that we can correctly execute God’s plan for our lives. God has a plan for your life, but you will never understand that plan for your life unless you understand the dispensation in which you live. Likewise, unless you understand the doctrine of the mystery, you are never going to understand that our dispensation is the only one that has interrupted another dispensation. Our dispensation broke right in on another dispensation, (i.e., the Age of the Law, a.k.a., the Age of Israel), and stopped it. The Age of Israel is an interrupted dispensation. Now we are in the Church Age, with its unique mystery doctrines. To fulfill God’s plan for your life, you must know and apply the doctrines for the Church and not try to live by the Doctrines for the Age of the Law. If you live by the Law, you will be disoriented to God’s Plan for your life. The reason is, God has “manifold wisdom” specifically for the Church Age that we must abide by. Anything else disorients us from living the spiritual life for today!
Then we have “which He,” HOS, (that refers to God the Father and His plan and purpose for the Church Age), “carried out in Christ Jesus,” POIEO EN CHRISTOS IESUS.
“Carried out” is the Verb POIEO in the Aorist, Active, Indicative, that means, “made, did, created, produced, worked, accomplished, performed, etc.” The Culminative Aorist Tense views the entirety of past action as a snapshot in time with the emphasis on the existing results. God has accomplished His Plan. The doctrine of the mystery actually presents the principles and the mechanics by which the Plan of God is executed. The Active Voice says that God produces the action of fulfilling His Plan. The Indicative Mood is for the reality that God the Father performed this work in the past.
So “carrying out” His purpose emphasizes God’s fulfillment of His Plan for the Dispensations of Human History, especially the making known of the many-sided wisdom of God via the mystery doctrines for the Church Age to the Fallen Angels, via the Church, (which is the body of Christ), through Paul’s preaching.
“In Christ Jesus” is in the Instrumental Dative of Means. Jesus Christ was the “means” by which God the Father carried out the revelation of His dispensational Plan for the Ages. The Cross of Christ and His indwelling of the Church Age believer are the signifying events that differentiate this Age from the previous Ages.
God’s eternal purpose was to send His Son to the Cross to pay the penalty for the sins of the entire world for their salvation and then indwell the Church Age believer, making them co-heirs and fellow partakers of the promises of God, because they are in union with Jesus Christ as His body. This was the great demonstration of God’s grace to the fallen angles. It was accomplished through Christ Jesus who is also, “our Lord,” HEMEIS KURIOS. KURIOS means, “Lord, Master, Ruler.” It is another name of God that emphasizes His rule and authority.
“Christ” emphasizes Jesus as the Messiah / Anointed One, the son of David, who would bring salvation both to the Jews and Gentiles.
“Jesus” emphasizes His Humanity as Savior.
“Lord” speaks of His Deity with emphasis on His authority and lordship.
He is all that plus much more!
Eph 3:11, “This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
So God’s purpose for establishing the Church Age, with its mystery Doctrines was to condemn the Principalities and Powers, (Fallen Angels), in the appeal trial of the Angelic Conflict. And His purpose was fulfilled by Christ Jesus our Lord, through the Cross and His indwelling of every Church Age believer. God worked out that purpose in a way that only illustrates to the utmost, by its difficulty, His grace and glory, cf. Eph 1:11-12.
Finally, we see in the last two verses of this section, the encouragement factor for the believer.
Eph 3:12, “In whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. 13Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.”
Having just told us of the unseen Angelic Conflict that we are a part of that can easily freak us out, God, through Paul, now wants to lift us up with encouragement. In these last two passages we are encouraged in two ways, and that encouragement also includes all of the blessings that have previously been mentioned in this letter regarding the mystery doctrines for the Church Age that promise us blessings in time and eternity.
Vs. 12 is given to encourage the believer in his daily faith-rest walk; and specifically in his prayer life.
Vs. 13 is given so that we are encouraged when we see a fellow believer going forward in the Plan of God and enduring undeserved suffering for blessing, especially communicators of the mystery doctrines.
In both instances our encouragement, as always, comes through Christ Jesus!
Vs. 12 has two themes of encouragement:
1) Boldness to operate openly and freely in our daily spiritual lives.
“We have boldness” is the Verb ECHO in the Present, Active, Indicative, with the noun PARRHESIA. PARRHESIA, παῤῥησία means, “Outspokenness, frankness, unreservedness in speech, plainness, freely, openly publicly, courage, assurance, boldness, fearlessness.” In the book of Acts, it is used to show the primary characteristic of the early apostolic preaching and testifying. They “boldly, fearlessly” and “frankly” proclaimed the good news, Acts 28:31.
Here it is used not just for our inner thoughts, but that we function openly and freely in our faith, regardless of what others think. When we do, it fulfills the witness we have in our actions and deeds. So we could say, “keep on having confident assurance to speak out in your words and deeds.”
2) The second theme of encouragement is to have complete confidence in our prayer life.
“Confident access” is the Noun PEPOITHESIS πεποίθησις that means, “confidence or trust.” It comes from the root word PEITHO that means to be, “convinced or persuaded” and “to trust, rely upon, or have confidence in.” So PEPOITHESIS comes to mean the confidence or trust one has, who is in a state of mental and volitional commitment. It is confidence that arises from personal faith in Jesus Christ and His Word. Confidence is a characteristic of royalty.
Then we have the process in which we express our faith-rest in Christ, “access,” PROSAGOGE, προσαγωγή. It is used primarily for having an audience with the king or being in the presence of the king. Here it means we have admission into the presence of God. The noun only occurs three times in the N.T., Rom 5:2; Eph 2:18; 3:12.
Rom 5:2, “Through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.”
This verse also tells us that believers have access to God the Father, “through faith in Him,” “Faith” is the Noun PISTIS that means, “faith, trust, confidence, assurance, conviction, or belief.” This means that Jesus Christ and His Cross are the means by which we have access to the Father. Our faith in the Cross of Jesus Christ enters us positionally into union with Jesus Christ, as a result of His indwelling us. Our faith in His Word gives us experiential sanctification, meaning we are functioning in God’s righteousness. Both faiths provide for our access to God the Father in our prayers.
Therefore, you can enter the Father’s presence in prayer with “boldness and confidence,” because you are covered with the righteousness of Christ. Those who have placed their faith in Him have done so because they realize He is the only One who met the requirements of God laid down in the O.T. Law. Therefore, when God looks at those people who live by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, He sees the righteousness of Christ in them. As a result, you can petition the Father directly.
The access is always through Jesus Christ, John 14:13; 15:16; 16:26. In Rom 5:2 Paul wrote that through Jesus Christ “we have access . . . into this grace.” Eph 2:18 states that through Jesus Christ, we have “access by one Spirit unto the Father.” And in our verse, the access is “through faith in Him,” DIA HO PISTIS AUTOS
Heb 4:16, “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.”
1 John 5:14-15, “And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”
Eph 3:13, “Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.”
Here Paul is petitioning for us to be encouraged by the faithful walk of another believer, especially those who communicate the Word of God.
R.B. Thieme Jr. notes, “Doctrinal communication on a consistent basis means a great deal of pressure to the pastor. Just communicating doctrine becomes a source of great pressure.”
Here Paul petitions, (“I ask” – AITEO), the saints “not to lose heart,” ME EKKAKEO where EKKAKEO means, “to lose heart, become tired, or to despair.” The verb always occurs in a negative construction in the N.T. and becomes, in turn, a positive admonition to “endure” and to be “persistent.” The root words EK and KAKOS mean, “out from” and “worrisome.” So this means, do not worry.
The thing that might have caused the early Church to worry was Paul’s “tribulations,” which is the Noun THLIPSIS, θλῖψις that means, “oppression, affliction, tribulation, pressure, or distress.” This is an adjective describing Paul’s imprisonment referenced in vs.1 and 4:1.
The main reason they were not to worry about this is the context of this chapter, the predesigned plan, will and purpose of God. Just as the various Dispensations of human history are the revelation of God’s manifold wisdom, so too is Paul’s current predicament. It is all part of God’s Plan for his life and the Church. You see, Paul’s imprisonment, even though seeming to be an horrific dilemma, is actually a grace blessing from God to the Church, just as any believer’s underserved suffering is a grace blessing from God to themselves and others.
So Paul’s tribulations are a grace blessing to the Church, as noted in the phrases:
1) “On your behalf,” which is HUPER HUMEIS, “for the sake of you,” i.e, “for your sake.”
2) “For your glory,” which is HUMEIS DOXA, and should be translated, “which is for your glory.”
The noun DOXA means, “brightness, radiance, splendor, glory, magnificence, fame, renown, and honor.” In the plural, DOXAI, it is used for both angels and illustrious persons. There is also a verb, DOXAZO, which means, “to praise, to honor, to glorify, or to magnify.”
Therefore, we are to have encouragement in the faith-rest life by trusting in God the Father to hear and answer our prayers, because of Christ in us, and at the underserved suffering of our fellow believers, especially the Pastor-Teachers and Evangelists, because it is all part of God’s plan for our glory!
Section 3, Prayer for Realization, God’s Fullness for the Church, Eph 3:14-21.
In the concluding section of this chapter, Paul enters into prayer on behalf of the Church. This prayer shows his desire for us and the framework for the super-grace life of the spiritually mature believer.
In our outline of this chapter, we noted that there are four doctrines given that lead us to the super-grace life. This progression is from spiritual birth to spiritual maturity that has four basic doctrines. The last two of those doctrines are noted in this section:
- The Doctrine of the Mystery, vs. 1-6.
- The Doctrine of Ministry, vs. 7-13.
- The Doctrine of the Grace Apparatus for Perception, GAP, vs. 14-18.
- The Doctrine of the Super-Grace Life, vs. 19-21.
This is the second prayer we are noting in this Book. Paul’s first prayer, Eph 1:15-23, was concerned with the necessity of Christian growth. Now this second prayer concerns the necessity of reaching spiritual adulthood / the super-grace life.
In this prayer of Paul, vs. 14-15 tell us that this is a prayer; while vs. 16-21 tell us of the actual prayer Paul makes on your behalf. Vs. 14-15 also give us the mechanics for beginning a prayer; humbling ourselves before and glorifying God the Father, cf. Mat 6:9.
Vs. 14 – Humbling Ourselves Before God.
Eph 3:14, “For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father”
The first factor for effective prayer is to humble ourselves before God the Father.
“For this reason” is the Demonstrative Pronoun, HOUTOS, “this, this one, that, etc.,” in the Genitive Singular, with the Preposition, CHARIN, “because of, for the sake of, by reason of, etc.” This is the same construction we saw in vs. 1 of this Chapter, so we have an idiom. Therefore, the prayer which should have been begun in vs. 1 was postponed to vs. 14. In between, Paul gave us the doctrines of the Mystery and the Ministry to prepare us for the realization of the doctrine of the Super-Grace Life. While Paul was ready to pray for them, those to whom he addressed this epistle were not ready to hear his prayer. So instead, he laid the ground work necessary for their comprehension with the doctrines of the Mystery and the Ministry. Now that the ground work has been laid, he can begin the prayer for the Church so that they can understand the greater grace blessings of living the super-grace life.
- Only doctrine can postpone a prayer in order to make that prayer more effective.
- The effectiveness of prayer is based upon doctrine residing in the soul.
Another interesting fact here is regarding the interruption of Paul’s prayer. Our Lord is giving us some typology here. Paul’s prayer was interrupted, just as the Dispensation of Israel was interrupted. And what interrupted Paul’s prayer were two doctrines; the Mystery and the Ministry, which is exactly what the Church Age is all about. Now that those doctrines are complete, he can get back to his prayer in vs. 14, HOUTOS CHARIN, “For this reason,” just as when the Church Age is complete, the Age of Israel will resume with the Tribulation. And in fact, this prayer is for believers of the Church Age to move from infancy to maturity and the greater grace blessings of the supergrace life, just as the closing of the Church Age ushers in the Millennial promises of greater grace blessing for Israel, albeit after the Tribulation, which Paul also gives a type of regarding himself in vs. 13.
So from a Dispensation typology perspective, the timeline would look like this.
Vs. 1 – End of the Jewish Dispensation.
Vs. 2-12 – The interruption of the Age of the Law with the Church Age.
Vs. 13-15 – The Tribulation, (last 7 years of the Jewish Dispensation).
Vs. 16-21 – The Millennial Reign.
Yet, this entire Chapter is for the Church Age believer and his spiritual growth from infancy to adulthood.
Now, back to Paul’s prayer for Church Age believers, he continues with the humility factor that is so important to apply every time we enter into prayer. The humility factor is shown by his genuflexing, “I bow my knees before the Father.” This is an analogy; Paul is not bowing as he writes this letter.
“I Bow” is the Present, Active, Indicative of KAMPTO, κάμπτω that means, “to bow or bend.” It is used four times; three regarding God, Rom 14:11; Eph 3:14; Phil 2:10, and once with the negative regarding the refusal of Elijah and 7,000 men who would not bow to worship false gods, Rom 11:4; cf. 1 Kings 19:18. KAMPTO is also always linked with GONU, γόνυ that means, “knee.”
Combined they represent the prayer life of the believer priest. It reflects the posture of the Royal Priesthood in the function of prayer and true humility.
Humility is an objective recognition of the greatness of someone outside of yourself and a true orientation to that greatness. One of the most basic principles of prayer is the principle of humility. God is everything, we are nothing. We address our prayers to God the Father because He is totally capable and we are incapable.
KAMPTO is the Iterative Present Tense as it describes what recurs at successive intervals. It is repeated action at various times.
The Active Voice tells us that Paul produces the action of the verb as his second apostolic prayer.
The Indicative Mood is for the reality that Paul is praying on behalf of the Church once age.
Because this is Paul’s second prayer, we have an important principle. Many people think you have to get on your knees to pray but that is ridiculous. You do not have to get on your knees. Prayer requires humility and concentration. Posture is not important. This description of posture represents humility, and that is the mentality that is always required when entering into prayer. Posture is optional.
“Before the Father” is PROS HO PATER, which should be translated, “face to face with the Father.” It tells us who Paul is submitting to in worship and prayer, God the Father. He is the One we are to direct our prayers to at all times. We do not pray to Jesus or the Holy Spirit, or to anyone or anything else, but only to God the Father.
Some ancient Greek texts also have “of our Lord Jesus Christ.” But the majority of reliable texts do not have this phrase.
So the second important principle of our prayer life is who we pray to. It is always to God the Father. As Jesus said in Mat 6:6, 9, “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. … 9Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.”
Vs. 15 – Glorifying God the Father.
Eph 3:15, “From whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.”
The second factor of effective prayer is to praise and glorify God in some way; Paul gives us one that has a specific message and meaning.
“From whom,” is the Genitive of Source for EK HOS refers back to the God the Father as the object of our worship and direction for our prayers. It also tells us that God the Father is the source of our family status and name.
“Every Family,” is the Subject Nominative of PAS PATRIA. PATRIA means, “family, clan, lineage, descent, tribe, etc.” It is used specifically to speak of descendants of God the Father.
Here linked with PATER for “God the Father,” in vs. 14, PATRIA speaks of the family that comes from God the Father, the Royal Family of God, the believers of the Church Age!
Unfortunately, this statement about the fatherhood of God has confuses some people. They take this verse and others like it, to mean that everyone is a child of God by virtue of being part of His creation. But there is a definite distinction between the fatherhood of God relative to creation and the fatherhood of God relative to conversion. Only those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are the children of God, cf. John 8:42-47; James 2:8; 1 Peter 2:9. In our verse Paul was referring to the fatherhood of God relative to conversion. So the family in view here is the Royal Family of God; every Church Age believer. So it should read, “the entire royal family.”
Now with the Greek word PATER in vs. 14 and PATRIA in vs. 15, we have a paronomasia, that is, a play on words or pun. This is play on words speaks of our spiritual descent based upon regeneration. And because we are in union with the King of king and Lord of Lords, our spiritual heritage is royalty. Therefore, we are the Royal Family of God.
This is the only dispensation in which there is royalty in the family of God. We are the PATRIA and the first person of the Trinity is the PATER. The entire human race is not the family of God, only those who are born again, and in this dispensation, Royal Family. To be born again one must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ who is the only savior, John 3:1-18, 36; Gal 3:26; John 20:31. Likewise, we are also distinguished from other members of the family of God in that we are royalty.
PATER communicates to PATRIA through Bible doctrine; we communicate with Him through prayer. Our daily relationship with PATER is first based on hearing from Him through the daily function of GAP. Secondly, we communicate to Him through our prayers. Prayer is a result of the relationship we build with Him. The daily function of GAP builds that relationship and makes prayer, witnessing, and all other production effective. We must know Him before we try to communicate with Him. You must know the person with whom you are communicating, before you seek to communicate with Him in prayer.
Next we have the residence of this family, “in heaven,” the Dative of Place of EN HOURANOS, “and,” KAI, “on earth,” the Genitive of Place of EPI GE. So we are taking about the Royal family of God that includes believers who have already died and are in heaven, and those still alive who are on the earth, Satan’s cosmic system.
This is another verse that alludes to the fact that believers go directly to heaven upon their death, 1 Cor 13:12, and that there is no such thing as “death sleep” where the believer or unbeliever is held in a state of “unconsciousness” until the resurrections.
1 Cor 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.”
“Derives its name,” is the Present, Passive, Indicative of ONOMAZO, ὀνομάζω that means, “name, entitle, call, or mention.” It comes from the root word ONOMA that means “name,” but ONOMAZO has a greater meaning than just “your name.” It means, what is your title, or what do people call you. In the Passive voice, as it is here, it can mean “to make famous, a person of renown or to be named – be known.” Therefore, the “name” of the Church Age believer is presently known as “a member of the Royal Family of God.” The first person of the Trinity, PATER, has given His name to Church Age born again believers, PATRIA; the Royal Family of God.
Therefore, in Paul’s doxology of God the Father, He tells us something unique and special regarding the Church Age believer. He tells us of our family name, “PATRIA,” that was given to us by God the Father; we are the Royal Family of God. By recognizing this, Paul is glorifying the Father. This also tells us that when we are glorifying God, we are really just recognizing or giving back to Him what He has already done. In other words, God glorifies Himself through us. Therefore, to glorify the Father, all you need to do is recognize or apply something about Him, or that He has done.
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If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson #’s:
16-045 through 16-047
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A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us. Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life.
To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life. So right now you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!