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Ephesians 3:9

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

And to make all men see - Και φωτισαι παντας· And to illuminate all; to give information both to Jews and Gentiles; to afford them a sufficiency of light, so that they might be able distinctly to discern the great objects exhibited in this Gospel.

What is the fellowship of the mystery - The word κοινωνια, which we properly translate fellowship, was used among the Greeks to signify their religious communities; here it may intimate the association of Jews and Gentiles in one Church or body, and their agreement in that glorious mystery which was now so fully opened relative to the salvation of both. But instead of κοινωνια, fellowship, οικονομια, dispensation or economy, is the reading of ABCDEFG, and more than fifty others; both the Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian, Slavonian, Vulgate and Itala, with the chief of the Greek fathers. Some of the best printed editions of the Greek text have the same reading, and that in our common text has very little authority to support it. Dispensation or economy is far more congenial to the scope of the apostle's declaration in this place; he wished to show them the economy of that mystery of bringing Jews and Gentiles to salvation by faith in Christ Jesus, which God from the beginning of the world had kept hidden in his own infinite mind, and did not think proper to reveal even when he projected the creation of the world, which had respect to the economy of human redemption. And although the world was made by Jesus Christ, the great Redeemer, yet at that period this revelation of the power of God, the design of saving men, whose fall infinite wisdom had foreseen, was not then revealed. This reading Griesbach has received into the text.

Who created all things by Jesus Christ - Some very judicious critics are of opinion that this does not refer to the material creation; and that we should understand the whole as referring to the formation of all God's dispensations of grace, mercy, and truth, which have been planned, managed, and executed by Christ, from the foundation of the world to the present time. But the words δια Ιησου Χριστου, by Jesus Christ, are wanting in ABCD*FG, and several others; also in the Syriac, Arabic of Erpen, Coptic, Ethiopic, Vulgate, and Itala; as also in several of the fathers. Griesbach has thrown the words out of the text; and Professor White says, "certissime delenda," they are indisputably spurious. The text, therefore, should be read: which from the beginning of the world had been hidden in God who created all things. No inferiority of Christ can be argued from a clause of whose spuriousness there is the strongest evidence.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And to make all men see - In order that the whole human family might see the glory 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 - κοινωνία koinōnia- most mss. and versions read οἰκονομία 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 rite 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 people. 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 people. Locke renders it,” and to make all people perceive how this mystery comes now to be communicated to the world.” Dr. Whately (Errors of Romanism, chapter ii. section 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 Elensinian, “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 people 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 the notes on Ephesians 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 Colossians 1:15-16. But the phrase is missing 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 Colossians 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 John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 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.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Those whom God advances to honourable employments, he makes low in their own eyes; and where God gives grace to be humble, there he gives all other needful grace. How highly he speaks of Jesus Christ; the unsearchable riches of Christ! Though many are not enriched with these riches; yet how great a favour to have them preached among us, and to have an offer of them! And if we are not enriched with them it is our own fault. The first creation, when God made all things out of nothing, and the new creation, whereby sinners are made new creatures by converting grace, are of God by Jesus Christ. His riches are as unsearchable and as sure as ever, yet while angels adore the wisdom of God in the redemption of his church, the ignorance of self-wise and carnal men deems the whole to be foolishness.
Ellen G. White
Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, 563.1

Wonderful in Simplicity—How wonderful in its simplicity, its comprehensiveness and perfection, is the law of Jehovah! In the purposes and dealings of God there are mysteries which the finite mind is unable to comprehend. And it is because we cannot fathom the secrets of infinite wisdom and power that we are filled with reverence for the Most High.—The Review and Herald, September 14, 1886. 2MCP 563.1

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Ellen G. White
The Retirement Years, 154.3

Giving an account of the last days of Sir Davis Brewster, his daughter writes: “He thanked God that the way of salvation was so simple. No labored argument, no hard attainment, was required. To believe in the Lord Jesus Christ was to live. He trusted in Him, and enjoyed His peace.” The last words of this great man of science were: “Life has been very bright to me, and now there is the brightness beyond. I shall see Jesus, who created all things, who made the worlds. I shall see Him as He is. Yes, I have had the Light for many years. Oh, how bright it is! I feel so safe, so satisfied.” RY 154.3

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7 (EGW), 904

Faith Not to Rest on Evidences of Sight—Before Christ left heaven and came into the world to die, He was taller than any of the angels. He was majestic and lovely. But when His ministry commenced, He was but little taller than the common size of men then living upon the earth. Had He come among men with His noble, heavenly form, His outward appearance would have attracted the minds of the people to Himself, and He would have been received without the exercise of faith.... 7BC 904.1

The faith of men in Christ as the Messiah was not to rest on the evidences of sight, and they believe on Him because of His personal attractions, but because of the excellence of character found in Him, which never had been found, neither could be, in another (The Spirit of Prophecy 2:39). 7BC 904.2

(Colossians 2:9; Ephesians 3:9; 1 Peter 1:11, 12.) The Mystery Into Which Angels Desire to Look—In Christ dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead. But the only way in which He could reach men was to veil His glory by a garb of humanity. The angels beheld the hiding of His glory, that divinity might touch humanity. Christ ever retained the utmost hatred for sin, but He loved the purchase of His blood. He suffered in the place of sinful men, taking them into union with Himself. 7BC 904.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 609

*****

[Reported as spoken before the General Conference of 1871.]

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