Amplified: To me, though I am the very least of all the saints (God’s consecrated people), this grace (favor, privilege) was granted and graciously entrusted: to proclaim to the Gentiles the unending (boundless, fathomless, incalculable, and exhaustless) riches of Christ [wealth which no human being could have searched out], (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: It is to me, who am less than the least of all God’s consecrated people, that this privilege has been given—the privilege of preaching to the Gentiles the wealth of Christ, the full story of which no man can ever tell; (Westminster Press)
NET: To me--less than the least of all the saints--this grace was given, to proclaim to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ (NET Bible)
NLT: Just think! Though I did nothing to deserve it, and though I am the least deserving Christian there is, I was chosen for this special joy of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Yes, to me, less than the least of all Christians, has God given this grace, to enable me to proclaim to the Gentiles the incalculable riches of Christ, (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: To me, the one who is less than the least of all saints, there was given this grace, to the Gentiles to proclaim the good news of the incomprehensible wealth belonging to the Christ (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: 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
TO ME, THE VERY LEAST OF ALL SAINTS: emoi to elachistotero panton hagion : (Proverbs 30:2,3; Romans 12:10; 1Corinthians 15:9; Philippians 2:3; 1Timothy 1:13,15; 1Peter 5:5,6)
Remember that Ephesians 3:2, 3, 4, 5,6, 7, 8, 9, ,10, 11, 12, 13 is a single sentence in the original Greek text and as such represents a "parentheses" in which Paul digresses to explain the origin of the Church composed of believing Jew and Gentile who are now one body in Christ.
John Eadie writes…
Very least - Vincent explains that "A comparative is formed upon a superlative: "more least than all the saints".
NET Bible has "less than the least of all saints" - for Paul to view himself as less than the least of all the saints is to view himself as the most unworthy object of Christ’s redemption.
Very least (1646) (elachistos superlative of elachus = little, short) describes the least important, the lowest in status. It can describe being relatively the smallest in a specific class such as the rudder (compared to the tongue) in Jas 3:4. Finally it can pertain to being considered of very little importance and thus insignificant or trivial (Lk 12:26, 16:10, 19:17, 1Co 4:3, 6:2)
Eadie writes that in this verse…
Elachistos - 14x in 12v - Matt. 2:6; 5:19; 25:40, 45; Lk. 12:26; 16:10; 19:17; 1 Co. 4:3; 6:2; 15:9; Eph. 3:8; Jas. 3:4. The NAS translates elachistos as least(6), smallest(1), very least(1), very little thing(4), very small(1), very small thing(1).
Paul is saying he is "more least than all the saints". In fact, elachistos means "less than the least" and expresses Paul's honest, deep self-abasement. In other words, Paul is not exhibiting a sense of false humility but a true self-estimate from a man filled with the Holy Spirit and one who knew his true unworthiness in face of "gift of God's grace" and the perfect righteousness of God. Paul wrote a similar self-estimate in other letters in which there seems to be a progression (see table below). Anyone who sees Christ in His glory realizes his own sinfulness and uselessness. As Christ increased in Paul, Paul decreased (cf John 3:30). Understanding the deep truths of God’s Word does not give a man a big head; it gives him a broken and contrite heart.
Paul (Paulus) means “little” in Latin, and perhaps Paul bore this name because he realized how insignificant he really was.
Hughes comments on "very least" writing that…
Johnson explains "the very least" this way…
See Related Exposition - 1Corinthians 15:9 Commentary
As you examine this chart, you see that we come face to face with the phenomenon which is frequently seen in the great leaders and saints of the past. It is that the older they grow, the more acute is their own sense of sin and of weakness in themselves. They see that what they once thought to be natural strengths are really weaknesses that emanate from our fallen flesh. So if this (an increasing sense of the corruption of your old flesh nature) is beginning to happen to you, you are growing as a Christian. Paul never forgot the wonder of being chosen to be a custodian of divine truth. To reiterate, the most godly men in the Bible were deeply aware of their own utter depravity in the presence of God (see Ge. 18:27; Job 42:6; Isa 6:5; Dan. 9:4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11,12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19; Ezek 1:28-note, Luke 5:8, 9, Re 1:17-note). It is significant that in none of these cases did the Lord say, “That’s not true! You need to see yourself as a saint, not a sinner!” Once the man (saint) realized the truth of his sinfulness, the Lord graciously gave words of encouragement to restore (e.g., see Job 42:7, 8; Is 6:7; Da 9:23; Lk 5:10). On the other hand, it can be argued that God’s specific intent in each of these men was to bring these sinner/saints to a lower and more accurate estimate of themselves in God’s holy presence. Notice in John the baptizer's last recorded words (before he was beheaded) he affirmed that…
As Donald Guthrie states in his comments on Paul's declaration of his status in 1Timothy 1:15…
Paul's experience is also the experience and teaching of the most godly men in church history, including men like Calvin, Luther, John Owen (the great Puritan theologian), Jonathan Edwards (the greatest American theologian), Charles Simeon, J. C. Ryle, Charles Spurgeon, Martyn Lloyd-Jones and many others all taught the ongoing depravity of the human heart, even after conversion. This same experience (an increasing awareness of one's sinfulness) has also been part of every revival in church history. In his book entitled Revival, Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones emphasizes that…
Saints (40) (hagios [word study]) is literally holy one and refers to that which is set apart (sanctified) from profane or common purposes and for a special purpose. Hagios describes every saint's position in Christ -- set apart from that which is secular, profane, and evil and on the other hand dedicated to worship and service of God (see purpose in 2Ti 2:21). We are holy ones both in character and conduct set apart by God to be exclusively His, dedicated to Him and manifesting holiness of heart and conduct.
Hagios was used throughout the NT to speak of anyone or anything that represents God’s holiness: Christ as the Holy One of God, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Father, holy Scriptures, holy angels, holy brethren, and so on.
The Gentiles understood this term because among the pagans, hagios signified separated and dedicated to the idolatrous gods and carried no idea of moral or spiritual purity. The manmade gods were as sinful and degraded as the men who made them and there simply was no need for a word that represented righteousness! The worshipper of the pagan god acquired the character of that pagan god and the religious ceremonies connected with its worship. The Greek temple at Corinth housed a large number of harlots who were connected with the "worship" of the Greek god. Thus, the set-apartness or holiness of the Greek worshipper was in character licentious, totally depraved, and sinful.
THIS GRACE WAS GIVEN: edothe (3SAPI) e charis aute: (1Chronicles 17:16; 29:14,15; Acts 5:41; Romans 15:15, 16, 17)
This grace was given - Even this phrase implies grace is a gift. If it's given, it's not earned or merited!
Grace (5485) (charis [word study]) in simple terms is God's unmerited favor and supernatural enablement and empowerment for salvation and for daily sanctification. Grace is everything for nothing to those who don't deserve anything. Jowett defined grace as "holy love on the move".
Note that Paul uses charis 12 times in Ephesians (compare 24 times in the 16 chapter epistle to the Romans) - Eph. 1:2, 6, 7; 2:5, 7, 8; 3:2, 7, 8; 4:7, 29; 6:24. Note especially the 2 other uses in this same chapter…
TO PREACH TO THE GENTILES THE UNFATHOMABLE RICHES OF CHRIST: tois ethnesin euaggelisasthai (AMN) to anexichniaston ploutos tou Christou: (Ep 3:16,19; 1:7,8; 2:7; Psalms 31:19; John 1:16; Romans 11:33; 1Corinthians 1:30; 2:9; Philippians 4:19; Colossians 1:27; 2:1, 2, 3; Revelation 3:18)
Eadie comments that…
We see Paul's missionary zeal in this verse, a zeal which should stimulate those of us who have been chosen, adopted, redeemed and sealed by the Spirit to carry this same message of untraceable spiritual riches of Jesus Christ to those who have not heard His glorious name.
Preach (2097) (euaggelizo/euangelizo from eu = good, well + aggéllo = proclaim, tell; English = evangelize) means to announce good news concerning something. Euaggelizo was often used in the Septuagint for preaching a glad or joyful message (cf. 1Sam. 31:9; 2Sa 1:20; 4:10) of God's kindnesses especially as they related to the promised Messianic blessings. In the NT euaggelizo was used especially of the glad tidings of the coming kingdom of God and of the salvation through Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God Who took away the sins of the world.
Note: Paul's preaching was great not because of his great oratorical skills, but because of the great grace of God that enabled him (1Co 15:10-note).
Euaggelizo/euangelizo in its original sense could be used to refer to a declaration of any kind of good news, but in the NT it (with 2 exceptions discussed below) refers especially to the glad tidings of the coming kingdom of God and of salvation obtained through Jesus Christ's death, burial and resurrection. Most of NT uses of euaggelizo are translated "preach" or "preach the gospel," whichever fits more smoothly into the context.
There are two passages that illustrate the original meaning of simply to "bring glad tidings" or "good news" of any nature…
Aside from these two passages the NT uses of euaggelizo usually have the technical meaning of publishing the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Euaggelizo - 54x in 52v - Mt. 11:5; Lk. 1:19; 2:10; 3:18; 4:18, 43; 7:22; 8:1; 9:6; 16:16; 20:1; Ac 5:42; 8:4, 12, 25, 35, 40; 10:36; 11:20; 13:32; 14:7, 15, 21; 15:35; 16:10; 17:18; Ro 1:15; 10:15; 15:20; 1Co 1:17; 9:16, 18; 15:1, 2; 2Co. 10:16; 11:7; Ga 1:8, 9, 11, 16, 23; 4:13; Ep 2:17; 3:8; 1Th 3:6; He 4:2, 6; 1Pe 1:12, 25; 4:6; Re 10:7; 14:6.
Euaggelizo - 18x in the non-apocryphal Septuagint -1Sa 31:9; 2Sa 1:20; 4:10; 18:19, 20, 26, 31; 1 Ki. 1:42; 1 Chr. 10:9; Ps. 40:9; 68:11; 96:2; Isa. 40:9; 52:7; 60:6; 61:1; Jer. 20:15; Joel 2:32; Nah. 1:15
In the NAS, in the NT euaggelizo is translated - bring glad tidings(1), bring good news(2 - one referring to birth of John the Baptist and the other to the birth of Jesus, so that the latter would in a sense refer to "preaching the good news"), brought good news (1Thes 3:6), good news preached(2), gospel preached(4), preach(4), preach good news(1), preach the gospel(12), preached (m) (9), preached the gospel(4), preaching(8),preaching a gospel(1), preaching good news(1), preaching the gospel(4).
Gentiles (1484) (ethnos) refers to non-Jews or the heathen. When ethnos is preceded by the definite article ("the") in the Greek, it means "the nations" which is synonymous with the Gentiles marking them out as a distinct class. The Gentiles implies those who practice idolatry and are ignorant of the true God.
All of mankind can be divided into Jew and Gentile and thus "Gentile" is a synonym for anyone who is non-Jew, who is not a member of the "chosen people". The Hebrew word corresponding to Gentile is goyim. From Genesis 12 onward the majority of the Scriptures are about the Jews, with the Gentiles mentioned as they interface with the Jews. The NT does have more mention of the Gentiles after the formation of the Church, but the last book, the book of Revelation is predominantly Jewish with over 200 OT quotes or allusions to OT passages.
Johnson explains that…
Unfathomable (421) (anexichniastos from a = without + exichniázo = explore) means past finding out, impossible to comprehend, immeasurable, unsearchable, impossible to be traced out. The riches of Christ cannot be traced out step-by-step. The word means they cannot be tracked out (“untrackable"), that they are so vast you cannot discover their end. It suggests a labyrinth or maze.
The only other use of this word in the NT is…
There are 3 uses in the Septuagint (Job 5:9; 9:10; 34:24) …
Translators have used words like inexplorable, or untraceable, inexhaustible, illimitable, inscrutable, incalculable, and infinite.
Theodoret, one of the earlier church fathers, said,
Riches (4149) (ploutos [word study] from pletho = fill) defines a plentiful supply, an abundance, plentitude. Ploutos literally describes material prosperity riches or wealth. It refers to an abundance of possessions exceeding the norm of a particular society. Figuratively, as used in this verse, ploutos describes spiritual abundance in Christ in Whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden (Col 2:3-note) When a person trusts the Lord Jesus, he immediately becomes a infinitely rich spiritually for in Christ he possesses inexhaustible treasures. We can never find that wealth apart from Christ.
Ploutos - 22x in 21v - Matt. 13:22; Mk. 4:19; Lk. 8:14; Rom. 2:4; 9:23; 11:12, 33; 2 Co. 8:2; Eph. 1:7, 18; 2:7; 3:8, 16; Phil. 4:19; Col. 1:27; 2:2; 1 Tim. 6:17; Heb. 11:26; Jas. 5:2; Rev. 5:12; 18:17
In his work Meditations on Ephesians, Henry Law has these words on Ephesians 3:8…
The unsearchable riches of Christ!
Unfathomable Riches -
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From Rags To Riches-During the Great Depression, a man named Mr. Yates owned a huge piece of land in Texas where he raised sheep. Financial problems had brought him to the brink of bankruptcy. Then an oil company, believing there might be oil on his land, asked for permission to drill.
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He Has What We Need- What makes the gospel such good news? Paul summarized it in Ephesians 3:8 as "the unsearchable riches of Christ." Those who receive the living Christ into their lives are free to enjoy His spiritual riches. But are we using all that He has given to us?
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C H Spurgeon's devotionals from Morning and Evening on Ephesians 3:8…
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Whose Prisoner?- A story is told of Scottish minister Alexander Whyte, who was able to look at the bleakest situation and yet find something to be thankful for. On a dark Sunday morning when the weather was freezing, wet, and stormy, one of his deacons whispered,
The pastor began the service by praying,
The apostle Paul also saw the best in every situation. Consider his circumstances as he wrote to the church in Ephesus while he awaited trial before the Roman emperor Nero. Most people would have concluded that he was a prisoner of Rome. But Paul saw himself as a prisoner of Christ. He thought of his hardship as an opportunity to bring the gospel to the Gentiles.
These words of Paul should challenge us:
Paul, a prisoner of Christ, saw himself as being given the privilege to serve God and present the “riches of Christ” to many.
Whose prisoner are we? —Albert Lee (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
Afflictions may test me,
The trials that imprison you need not limit God’s work in you.
Amplified: Also to enlighten all men and make plain to them what is the plan [regarding the Gentiles and providing for the salvation of all men] of the mystery kept hidden through the ages and concealed until now in [the mind of] God Who created all things by Christ Jesus. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: the privilege of enlightening all men as to what is the meaning of that secret, which was hidden from all eternity, in the God who created all things. (Westminster Press)
NET: and to enlighten everyone about the divine secret's plan--a secret that has been hidden for ages in the God who has created all things. (NET Bible)
NLT: I was chosen to explain to everyone this plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: and to make plain to all men the meaning of that secret which he who created everything in Christ has kept hidden from the creation until now. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which has been kept covered up from the beginning of the ages in the God who created all things, (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: and to cause all to see what is the fellowship of the secret that hath been hid from the ages in God, who the all things did create by Jesus Christ,
AND TO BRING TO LIGHT WHAT IS THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE MYSTERY: kai photisai (AAN) [pantas] tis e oikonomia tou musteriou: (Matthew 10:27; 28:19; Mark 16:15,16; Luke 24:47; Romans 16:26; Colossians 1:23; 2Timothy 4:17; Revelation 14:6) (Eph 3:3, 4, 5; 1:9,10; 1Timothy 3:16)
In the final few verses the Apostle speaks of the motivation of his ministry for preaching the mystery.
Bring to light (5461) (photizo from phos = light <> from phao = to shine) means to give light or to cause light to shine upon some object, in the sense of illuminating the object (see below for Eadie's description of the effect of photizo). Figuratively, it means to cause something to be fully known by revealing clearly and in some detail. It means to shed light upon or to illuminate.
BDAG (Ref) (summarized and modified) has the following meanings…
Eadie comments on Paul's use of the verb photizo…
Vine has an interesting note on the root word phos (light)…
Photizo - 11x in 11v - Lk. 11:36; Jn. 1:9; 1 Co. 4:5; Eph. 1:18; 3:9; 2 Tim. 1:10; Heb. 6:4; 10:32; Rev. 18:1; 21:23; 22:5. The NAS translates photizo as bring to light(2), brought to light(1), enlightened(3), enlightens(1), illumine(1),illumined(2), illumines(1).
Luke 11:36 "If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it shall be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays."
John 1:9 There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.
1Corinthians 4:5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God.
Ephesians 1:18-note I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
Eadie commenting on photizo in this verse: The “heart” belongs to the “inner man,” is the organ of perception as well as of emotion; the centre of spiritual as it is physically of animal life… The verb photizo, used in such a relation, has a deep ethical meaning. Light and life seem to be associated in it—as, on the other hand, darkness and death are in Hebrew modes of conception. Thus Ps 13:3, 36:9; Jn 1:4, 8:12. The light that falls upon the eyes of the heart is the light of spiritual life—there being appreciation as well as perception, experience along with apprehension. Matt. 13:15; Mark 6:52; John 12:40. The figure is common too among classical writers. If the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God (Ep 1:17) be conferred, then the scales fall from the moral vision, and the cloudy haze that hovers around it melts away. It is as if a man were taken during night to a lofty eminence shrouded in vapor and darkness, but morning breaks, the sun rises, the mist departs, rolls into curling wreaths and disappears, and the bright landscape unfolds itself. Such is the result, and the design, is that they may obtain a view of three special truths (in Eph 1:18, 19a).
Ephesians 3:9-note and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things;
2 Timothy 1:10-note but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
Hebrews 6:4-note For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,
Hebrews 10:32-note But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings,
Revelation 18:1-note After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory.
Revelation 21:23-note And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.
Revelation 22:5-note And there shall no longer be any night; and they shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them; and they shall reign forever and ever.
There are 26 uses of photizo in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (LXX) - Exod. 37:17; Num. 4:9; 8:2; 1 Sam. 29:10; 2 Ki. 12:2; 17:27f; Ezr. 2:63; 9:8; Neh. 7:65; 9:12, 19; Ps. 13:3; 18:28; 19:8; 34:5; 76:4; 105:39; 119:130; 139:12; Prov. 4:18; Eccl. 8:1; Isa. 60:1, 19; Dan. 4:11; Hos. 10:12; Mic. 7:8. Below are some of the "enlightening" uses of photizo in the Old Testament…
Ezra 9:8 "But now for a brief moment grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us an escaped remnant and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten (Lxx = photizo) our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our bondage. (Beloved, read this awesome, majestic, doctrinally rich verse again and be blessed!)
Nehemiah 9:12 "And with a pillar of cloud Thou didst lead them by day, and with a pillar of fire by night to light (Lxx = photizo) for them the way In which they were to go.
Nehemiah 9:19 Thou, in Thy great compassion, Didst not forsake them in the wilderness; The pillar of cloud did not leave them by day, To guide them on their way, nor the pillar of fire by night, to light (Lxx = photizo) for them the way in which they were to go.
Psalm 13:3 Consider (imperative - now this is approaching God's throne with confidence and boldness!) and answer (imperative) me, O LORD, my God; Enlighten (Lxx = photizo = imperative in both Hebrew and Greek) my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
Comment: What an incredibly bold prayer! What a needful prayer for all God's saints. Spurgeon eloquently exposits this verse…
Consider and hear me. He remembers at once the root of his woe, and cries aloud that it may be removed. The final absence of God is Tophet's fire, and his temporary absence brings his people into the very suburbs of hell. God is here entreated to see and hear, that so he may be doubly moved to pity. What should we do if we had no God to turn to in the hour of wretchedness?
Note the cry of faith, O Lord MY God! Is it not a very glorious fact that our interest in our God is not destroyed by all our trials and sorrows? We may lose our gourds, but not our God. The title deed of heaven is not written in the sand, but in eternal brass.
Lighten mine eyes: that is, let the eye of my faith be clear, that I may see my God in the dark; let my eye of watchfulness be wide open, lest I be entrapped, and let the eye of my understanding be illuminated to see the right way. Perhaps, too, here is an allusion to that cheering of the spirits so frequently called the enlightening of the eyes because it causes the face to brighten, and the eyes to sparkle. Well may we use the prayer, "Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord!" for in many respects we need the Holy Spirit's illuminating rays. (Amen!)
Lest I sleep the sleep of death. Darkness engenders sleep, and despondency is not slow in making the eyes heavy. From this faintness and dimness of vision, caused by despair, there is but a step to the iron sleep of death. David feared that his trials would end his life, and he rightly uses his fear as an argument with God in prayer; for deep distress has in it a kind of claim upon compassion, not a claim of right, but a plea which has power with grace. Under the pressure of heart sorrow, the psalmist does not look forward to the sleep of death with hope and joy, as assured believers do, but he shrinks from it with dread, from which we gather that bondage from fear of death is no new thing.
Psalm 18:28 For Thou dost light my lamp; The LORD my God illumines (Lxx = photizo) my darkness.
Spurgeon: For thou wilt light my candle. Even the children of the day sometimes need candlelight. In the darkest hour light will arise; a candle shall be lit, it will be comfort such as we may fittingly use without dishonesty -- it will be our own candle; yet God himself will find the holy fire with which the candle shall burn; our evidences are our own, but their comfortable light is from above. Candles which are lit by God the devil cannot blow out. All candles are not shining, and so there are some graces which yield no present comfort; but it is well to have candles which may by and by be lit, and it is well to possess graces which may yet afford us cheering evidences. The metaphor of the whole verse is founded upon the dolorous nature of darkness and the delightfulness of light; "truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun;" and even so the presence of the Lord removes all the gloom of sorrow, and enables the believer to rejoice with exceeding great joy. The lighting of the lamp is a cheerful moment in the winter's evening, but the lifting up of the light of God's countenance is happier far. It is said that the poor in Egypt will stint themselves of bread to buy oil for the lamp, so that they may not sit in darkness; we could well afford to part with all earthly comforts if the light of God's love could but constantly gladden our souls.
Psalm 19:8 The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening (Lxx = photizo) the eyes.
Spurgeon: The commandment of the Lord is pure. No mixture of error defiles it, no stain of sin pollutes it; it is the unadulterated milk, the undiluted wine.
Enlightening the eyes, purging away by its own purity the earthly grossness which mars the intellectual discernment: whether the eye be dim with sorrow or with sin, the Scripture is a skilful oculist, and makes the eye clear and bright. Look at the sun and it puts out your eyes, look at the more than sunlight of Revelation and it enlightens them; the purity of snow causes snow blindness to the Alpine traveller, but the purity of God's truth has the contrary effect, and cures the natural blindness of the soul. It is well again to observe the gradation; the convert becomes a disciple and next a rejoicing soul, he now obtains a discerning eye and as a spiritual man discerns (judges, appraises) all things, though he himself is discerned of no man (cp 1Co 2:15)
Psalm 34:5 They looked to Him and were radiant (Young's Literal = "they became bright", Lxx = Photizo = is in the imperative so reads "be enlightened"), And their faces shall never be ashamed.
Spurgeon: They looked unto him, and were lightened. The psalmist avows that his case was not at all peculiar, it was matched in the lives of all the faithful; they too, each one of them on looking to their Lord were brightened up, their faces began to shine, their spirits were uplifted. What a means of blessing one look at the Lord may be! There is life, light, liberty, love, everything in fact, in a look at the crucified One. (Isa 45:22KJV = the verse that the Spirit of God used to save Spurgeon! see C.H.Spurgeon's Testimony) Never did a sore heart look in vain to the good Physician; never a dying soul turned its darkening eye to the brazen serpent to find its virtue gone. And their faces were not ashamed. Their faces were covered with joy but not with blushes. He who trusts in God has no need to be ashamed of his confidence, time and eternity will both justify his reliance.
Psalm 119:130 The unfolding (Lxx = delosis = a pointing out, manifestation, explaining, showing, revelation, interpretation) of Thy words gives light (enlighteneth; Lxx = photizo); It gives understanding to the simple.
Spurgeon: The entrance of thy words giveth light. No sooner do they (God's Words) gain admission into the soul than they enlighten it: what light may be expected from their prolonged indwelling! Their very entrance floods the mind with instruction for they are so full, so clear; but, on the other hand, there must be such an "entrance," or there will be no illumination. The mere hearing of the word with the external car is of small value by itself (Jas 1:22-note), but when the words of God enter into the chambers of the heart then light is scattered on all sides. The Word finds no entrance into some minds because they are blocked up with self conceit, or prejudice, or indifference; but where due attention is given, divine illumination must surely follow upon a knowledge of the mind of God.
Oh, that Thy words, like the beams of the sun, may enter through the window of my understanding, and dispel the darkness of my mind!
It giveth understanding unto the simple. The sincere and candid are the true disciples of the word. To such it gives not only knowledge, but understanding. These simple hearted ones are frequently despised, and their simplicity has another meaning infused into it, so as to be made the theme of ridicule; but what matters it? Those whom the world dubs as fools are among the truly wise if they are taught of God. What a divine power rests in the word of God, since it not only bestows light, but gives that very mental eye by which the light is received -- "It giveth understanding." Hence the value of the words of God to the simple, who cannot receive mysterious truth unless their minds are aided to see it and prepared to grasp it.
Ecclesiastes 8:1 Who is like the wise man and who knows the interpretation of a matter? A man's wisdom illumines (Lxx = photizo) him and causes his stern face to beam.
Micah 7:8 Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; Though I dwell in darkness, the LORD is a light (Lxx = photizo) for me.
The administration - Note that the KJV (Eph 3:9KJV) translates this phrase as "the fellowship" because the Greek manuscript used to translate the KJV has the word koinonia (2842), while the more accepted modern manuscripts have the Greek word oikonomia (3622) which is translated administration ("plan" in the NET - see below).
The respected Scottish expositor John Eadie has this (somewhat technical) explanatory note regarding the differences in the Greek manuscripts…
“what is the economy of the mystery.” That oikonomia (NAS) should supersede the gloss koinonia of the Elzevir text (KJV) is established by the concurrent authority of A, B, C, D, E, F, G, J, supported by a host of the Fathers and by the early versions. The preaching of Paul enabled all to see “what is the arrangement or organization of that mystery which, from the beginning of the world, had been hid in God.”… The mystery must be the same as that described in Eph 3:6, for the same course of thought is still pursued, and varied only by the repetition. That mystery now so open had been long sealed. (Ephesians Commentary 3 - online)
Albert Barnes writes…
Instead of fellowship here (koinonia) most manuscripts and versions read (oikonomia) dispensation. (Ephesians - Chapter 3 - Barnes' Notes on the New Testament)
NET Bible Notes states that this verse could be translated…
Administration (see preceding note) (3622) (oikonomia [word study] from oíkos = house + némo = manage, distribute) (See study of related word oikonomos) in secular Greek referred literally to the management of a household by the oikonomos, the steward, the one who managed the house and was accountable to the owner (including the necessity to present to the owner the management records, receipts, disbursements, cash on hand and the settlement of accounts). Our English words "economy" and "economic" are derived from oikonomia and this usage in secular Greek helps one see the association. Oikonomia indicates the task given to responsible and faithful servants who were appointed over the economy or an area of responsibility in the household. Thus oikonomia stresses obligation, responsibility, and faithfulness of the servant to his master in carry out the entrusted task.
Wuest writes that…
Charles Ellicott notes that dispensation refers to…
Mystery (3466) (musterion from mustes = one initiated [as into the Greco-Roman religious "mystery" cults] from mueo = to close or shut) (Click word study on musterion) as used in classical Greek conveyed the idea of silence in the rites of the "mystery" religions so common in the Greco-Roman Empire. Musterion referred to religious secrets which were confided only to the initiated. Thus in Paul's day, musterion embrace ideas such as "a secret rite," "secret teaching," and "a divine mystery which is beyond human comprehension." The "mystery-religions" had their secrets and signs as modern secret societies have today. Those initiated into these pagan cults, knew these secret signs.
Musterion - 28x in 28v - Matt. 13:11; Mk. 4:11; Lk. 8:10; Rom. 11:25; 16:25; 1 Co. 2:1, 7; 4:1; 13:2; 14:2; 15:51; Eph. 1:9; 3:3f, 9; 5:32; 6:19; Col. 1:26f; 2:2; 4:3; 2 Thess. 2:7; 1 Tim. 3:9, 16; Rev. 1:20; 10:7; 17:5, 7. The NAS renders musterion as mysteries(5), mystery(22).
Musterion in Scripture takes on a completely different meaning and does not refer to truths know only to a select, initiated few but in contrast was is a previously hidden purpose of God which when uncovered is understood by the Spirit-taught believer. In other words musterion signifies those truths which are part of God's plan and can only be understood as He reveals them by His Spirit through His Word. Musterion is a truth which without special revelation would have been unknown and thus is commonly used with words denoting revelation or knowledge (e.g., "to know the mysteries", (Mt 13:11), "revelation of the mystery", (Ro 16:25-note) or "made known… the mystery", Eph 3:3-note)
The secret counsels of God remain hidden from the ungodly (to them they are a true "mystery" as the word is commonly used in English) but when these truths are revealed to the godly, they are understood by them. The mystery is not in the fact that the truths are difficult to interpret, but that they are impossible to interpret until their meaning is revealed at which time the truth becomes plain.
Mysteries in the Scripture fall into two categories. Some have already been revealed, and among these are the incarnation of Christ and the salvation of sinners. Others are yet to be seen, such as the general resurrection, the coming Antichrist, and the evil of the last day. It is comforting to realize that all the mysteries which bear on our salvation are already revealed to readers of Scripture.
Vincent defines musterion as that
MacArthur adds that
Unger says that
Steven Cole commenting on Eph 3:9, 10, 11 notes that…
WHICH FOR AGES HAS BEEN HIDDEN IN GOD WHO CREATED ALL THINGS: tou apokekrummenou (RPPNSG) apo ton aionon en to theo to ta panta ktisanti, (AAPMSD): (Eph 1:4; Matthew 13:35; 25:34; Acts 15:18; Romans 16:25; 1Corinthians 2:7; 2Thessalonians 2:13; 2Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2; 1Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8; 17:8) (Colossians 1:26; 3:3) (Ps 33:6; Isaiah 44:24; John 1:1, 2, 3; 5:17,19; 10:30; Colossians 1:16,17; Hebrews 1:2,3; 3:3)
Ages (165) (aion) denotes duration of time. The point is that this mystery was formed before the ages of time began, and kept secret since they started. It could be rendered “for eternity” or perhaps “from the Aeons.”
John Eadie comments…
Has been hidden (613) (apokrupto form apó = from, away + krúpto = hide, conceal by covering) means to hide away from the common gaze, and therefore secret. Apokrupto is used by Paul here (and 1Cor 2:7, Col 1:26) in a figurative sense to describe knowledge that cannot be known except through divine revelation. It is used in secular Greek writings of a "hidden trade (craft or skill)".
Paul uses the perfect tense which emphasizes the longevity of the hiding of the mystery of the Church. Once again Paul is pointing out the fact that the church universal is something new, unique, unprecedented and was not known before to anyone but God. It was certainly not known in the OT, which is significant in that many commentators interpret the OT passages given to Israel as if they were given to the church. While the OT Scriptures have many applications, including application to the NT church and NT believers, there is only one valid literal interpretation and that interpretation relates to the nation of Israel and not to the NT church (see the related topic - Israel of God - Is God "Finished" with Israel in His prophetic plan?)
Apokrupto - 4x in 4v in the NT -
Apokrupto is found 8x in the Septuagint (LXX) - 2 Ki. 4:27; Ps. 19:6; 119:19; Prov. 27:12; Isa. 26:20; 40:27; Jer. 32:17; Zeph. 3:5
As Barclay reminds us…
Created (2936) (ktizo) means to bring something into existence or call it into being something that has not existed before. To make habitable, to people a place (as used in secular Greek). The meaning of ktizo in this context describes the founding of a place, a city or colony. In the NT ktizo is used only of God's creativity (man = Mt 19:4, 1Co 11:19, Dt 32:6, creation = Mk 13:19, Col 1:16, Re 4:11, Ex 9:18, Dt 4:32, Creator = Ro 1:25, "re-creation" of men, of his dead spirit = regeneration = Eph 2:10, 4:24, of the church = Eph 2:15).
Ktizo is found 12 times in the NT and is translated create(1), created(12), Creator(1), make(1).
Matthew 19:4 And He answered and said, "Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female,
Mark 13:19 "For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created, until now, and never shall.
Romans 1:25-note For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
1 Corinthians 11:9 for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake.
Ephesians 2:10-note For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:15-note by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,
Ephesians 3:9-note and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things;
Ephesians 4:24-note and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
Colossians 1:16-note For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created by Him and for Him.
Colossians 3:10-note and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him
1 Timothy 4:3 men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods, which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.
Revelation 4:11-note "Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created."
Revelation 10:6-note and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it, that there shall be delay no longer,
Ktizo is found 67 times in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (LXX) - Gen. 14:19, 22; Exod. 9:18; Lev. 16:16; Deut. 4:32; 32:6; Ps. 33:9; 51:10; 89:12, 47; 102:18; 104:30; 148:5; Prov. 8:22; Eccl. 12:1; Isa. 22:11; 45:7f; 46:11; 54:16; Jer. 31:22; Ezek. 28:13, 15; Dan. 4:1; Hos. 13:4; Amos 4:13; Hag. 2:9; Mal. 2:10. Note especially the use in Psalm 51…
All (3956) (pas) means all without exception were created by God.
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F B Meyer writes the following note in "Our Daily Homily"
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In his work Meditations on Ephesians, Henry Law has these words on Ephesians 3:9…
Pastor Steven Cole's sermon on Ephesians 3:8…
It is my normal, weekly experience to feel overwhelmed by in-adequacy as I attempt to preach God’s Word. But when I come to a subject as vast as the unfathomable riches of Christ, I am almost paralyzed! It makes me realize how little of these immeasurable riches of Christ that I experience personally. It overwhelms me to think about what I can say on so profound a subject. So I am unusually aware that unless God anoints His Word with power, my feeble words will surely fail.
You would think that if you announced on the sign out front and in the newspaper that someone was speaking on the unfathomable riches of Christ, people would line up hours before the services, waiting to get in. “Free eternal riches will be given out at Flagstaff Christian Fellowship! Come and get all that you can!” But, as far as I know, no one had to wait in line to get in the door.
Even among the Lord’s people, some had “more important” things to do today than to come and explore more deeply the unfathomable riches of Christ. Some were too tired or too busy. I hope not, but perhaps some saw the title and thought, “Ho hum! That doesn’t sound very practical! Why doesn’t he talk about more relevant things?”
Maybe Jonathan Edwards sheds some light on this when he observed (The Works of Jonathan Edwards [Banner of Truth], 2:147), “The more holy any being is, the more sweet and delightful will it be to him to behold the glory and beauty of the Supreme Being.” He was preaching on Ephesians 3:10, where Paul says that the manifold wisdom of God is now made known through the church to the angelic hosts. The angels, who are perfect in holiness, greatly delight in the manifold wisdom of God as seen in the unfathomable riches of Christ. So if the subject bores you, you had better check your heart. The glory and beauty of Jesus Christ should captivate us so that out of great joy, we sell everything in order to gain the treasure of Christ (Matt. 13:44, 45, 46).
I was going to preach on Eph 3:8-13, which are a unit, but Paul not only talks about the unfathomable riches of Christ, but also of God’s eternal purpose as it relates to the church and of two practical consequences of these mind-boggling truths. So I had to limit myself to Eph 3:8, which shows us that…
Sinners may freely partake of the unfathomable riches of Christ.
1. The unfathomable riches of Christ are offered only to sinners.
Luke 1:53 states, “He has filled the hungry with good things; and sent away the rich empty-handed.” The spiritually hungry are sinners who see their need for forgiveness. The rich see no need for salvation. Bill Gates doesn’t spend his time standing in line at the welfare office. He doesn’t need their help. If you think that you have enough righteousness on your own to get into heaven, then you will not see your need for the unfathomable riches of Christ. Three things in our text show that these riches of Christ are offered only to sinners:
A. Paul preached the gospel to the Gentiles.
The Gentiles were not godly people! The religious Jews despised them as filthy dogs. They did not obey the Jewish Law. They made up their own standards for morality, which were abominable in God’s sight. The Ephesians, as we’ve seen, were steeped in the occult, and so many of them were plagued by demons that it spawned an industry for professional exorcists (Acts 19:13, 14, 15, 16). They “worshiped” at the pagan Temple of Diana, which involved immorality with the temple prostitutes. They did a thriving business selling idols, which ignorant people bought in hopes of solving their problems. These Gentiles were about as far from the living and true God as anyone could be.
And yet, when Paul came to Ephesus and preached the unfathomable riches of Christ, so many got saved that it threatened the idol-makers’ business. The same thing happened when Paul preached the gospel to the notoriously immoral Corinthians. He wrote to them (1Co 6:9, 10, 11):
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
Or, as he wrote to the Christians in Rome (Ro 1:16-note),
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek
In fact, the most difficult sinners to reach are religious sinners, because they do not see their desperate need. If God has opened your eyes to see that you have sinned against Him and are guilty of eternal judgment, then He offers to you the unfathomable riches of Christ in exchange for your spiritual poverty.
B. Paul saw himself as the least of all saints.
Paul coins a word that means, “I am less than the least.” This was not a mock humility on Paul’s part, but rather his honest feelings as he thought about his sinful past. In his self-righteousness, he had persecuted the church. His spiritual pride led him to think that he was doing God a favor by killing sincere, innocent believers! So, after God graciously stopped him in his tracks, Paul never got over the great mercy that God had shown to him. In 1Co 15:9, he said,
For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
Here, he sees himself as the least of all the saints. And, later in life (1Ti 1:15), he says that
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
He uses the present tense.
The closer you draw to God and see His holiness, the more aware you become of the sinfulness of your own heart. We see this with Isaiah, who instantly became aware of his sinfulness when he saw the Lord. Job, the most righteous man on earth, repented in dust and ashes when he had his encounter with God (Job 42:6). That has been the uniform experience of every saint throughout history. The closer they are to God, the more they lament their own sinfulness. John Calvin points this out often in his writings. For example, he wrote (Calvin's Commentaries [Baker], on Psalm 32:1, p. 526),
The more eminently that any one excels in holiness, the farther he feels himself from perfect righteousness, and the more clearly he perceives that he can trust in nothing but the mercy of God alone.
The point is, the unfathomable riches of Christ are only offered to those who see themselves to be poverty-stricken sinners. The only servants that God uses are those who see that they are inadequate clay pots, but that God has put His treasure in them (2Co 2:16; 3:5; 4:7).
C. Paul could only preach Christ because God had given him grace.
As we saw last week, Paul was so overwhelmed by God’s grace that he couldn’t stop repeating himself. He mentions it in Eph 3:2-note and Eph 3:7-note, as well as here in Eph 3:8: “this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ.” Paul knew that the only reason he could preach Christ was that God had given him grace.
Paul was like the workers in Jesus’ parable (Matt. 20:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16) who got hired late in the day. The story involved a landowner who went into the marketplace early in the day and hired some workers, agreeing to pay them a denarius for their day’s labor. Later in the morning, he hired some more, promising to give them whatever is right. He did the same thing in the early and mid-afternoon. Finally, an hour before quitting time, he hired some others.
When it came time to pay the workers, those who were hired at the last hour were paid a denarius. Those who had worked all day thought that they would get more, but they just got the denarius that the owner had promised them. When they grumbled, the owner told them that they had no right to grumble. He gave them what he had agreed on. But, if he wanted to be generous with what is his, why should they be envious?
That parable illustrates God’s grace. We wrongly start thinking that God owes it to us because of our hard work for Him. But if He owes it, it’s not grace. Grace is always undeserved. Since we did nothing to deserve it, we can’t demand it. So, if we grew up in the church and God saves us and calls us to preach His good news, it is pure grace. If we grew up in the streets as gang members and God saves us and calls us to preach, it is pure grace. As someone has well said, when we share the gospel with others, it is just one beg-gar telling another beggar where to find bread.
Before we leave this point, that the unfathomable riches of Christ are offered only to sinners, note three applications:
When you present the gospel, you must speak about sin, righteousness, and judgment.
<> If the person you are talking with is clearly broken and repentant over his sin, you don’t have to hammer it so hard. But in my experience, most people think of themselves as basically good. They think that God will let them into heaven because they aren’t as bad as the child molesters and terrorists of the world. If you tell these people that God loves them and recite John 3:16, they think, “Yes, of course, I am so loveable! But, thank you for reminding me!” But if they are not convicted of sin and do not see the absolute righteousness of God and do not fear His impending judgment on their evil thoughts, words, and deeds, then they do not see their need for the Savior. Take them to the Sermon on the Mount and show them that in God’s sight, anger is murder and lust is adultery.
<> When you pray for the lost, pray that they will come under conviction for their sin.
Unless, as Spurgeon put it, they feel the rope around their neck, they will not weep for joy when the Savior cuts it and frees them. Pray that unbelievers will read God’s Word and that the Holy Spirit will convict them of their guilt in God’s sight.
<> After you have trusted in Christ, you become a saint who is yet at the same time a sinner. Don’t lose the balance.
There is some popular, but badly unbalanced teaching on this matter. Neil Anderson’s books emphasize that as a believer, you are not a sinner, not even a sinner saved by grace. Rather, you are a saint who occasionally sins (see, Victory Over the Darkness [Regal Books], pp. 44-45; see my review Steak and Arsenic - A Review of Neil Anderson's "Victory Over the Darkness). He is rightly trying to present our new identity in Christ, but he denies what every godly person in the Bible and down through history has affirmed, that we are both saints and yet sinners. The closer we draw to God, the more we feel the tension. If we let go of either side, we are out of balance spiritually. The unfathomable riches of Christ are offered only to sinners. Second,
2. The unfathomable riches of Christ center on the person of Jesus Christ.
If we have Jesus Christ, then we have every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3-note). All of God’s promises are “yes” in Christ (2Co 1:20). God’s “divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2Pet. 1:3-note).
Note two things:
A. The gospel is not about rules, regulations, or religious rituals, but rather about knowing Jesus Christ Himself.
Paul did not proclaim to the Gentiles the moral rules of Christianity, although there are obviously moral standards in the Bible. He didn’t proclaim to them how they could go through baptism or receive the Lord’s Supper or pray the rosary or go through any other religious ceremonies or rituals to get right with God. Rather, he proclaimed to them the good news of the unfathomable riches of Christ.
Paul himself had sought to please God by keeping all of the Jewish rituals. In fact, he prided himself in how well he observed the Jewish law (Phil. 3:5, 6-note). But he said of these things (Phil. 3:8-note), “More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.” Christianity is at its heart a matter of knowing Jesus Christ personally. If you do not know Him, then all of the religious rituals in the world will be of no value to you. You must know Christ and be growing to know Him more deeply.
B. Jesus Christ possesses in Himself unfathomable riches and He gives these riches to all that call upon Him.
Here is where I’m in way over my head! Jesus Christ is the infinite, eternal God who took on human flesh so that He could give Himself as the only satisfactory and perfect sacrifice for our sins. As Paul expresses it (2Co 8:9),
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
The person of Christ is unfathomable, in that we can never completely get to the bottom of who He is and what He did for us on the cross. The word, unfathomable, is used only one other time in the New Testament, in Romans 11:33 (note), where Paul exclaims,
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!”
The word is used twice in the Greek Old Testament to describe God’s unfathomable ways in His creation (Job 5:9; 9:10). One preacher compared it to a man who was tracking out the confines of what he thought to be a small lake. But he discovered that it was an arm of the ocean, and so he was confronted by the immeasurable sea (J. H. Jowett, The Passion for Souls, p. 10, cited by Francis Foulkes, Ephesians [IVP/Eerdmans], p. 97).
Riches refers to true, lasting, eternal spiritual wealth that we have in Jesus Christ. Jesus told the parable of the rich man who decided to build bigger barns to hold more wealth, but God required his soul of him that very night. Jesus said (Luke 12:21),
So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich to-ward God.
He instructed us not to lay up treasures on earth, which can and will be taken from us,
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal (Matt 6:19-note).
The fact that Christ possesses in Himself unfathomable riches and that He gives these riches to all that call upon Him means that He can and will supply our every spiritual and personal need. He allows trials into our lives to drive us to a deeper experience of His all-sufficiency for our needs. Are we depressed? He is our joy! Are we discouraged? He is our hope! Are we troubled, anxious, or fearful? He is our peace! Are we weak? He is our strength! I could go on and on, but for sake of time, I just went through Ephesians up to where we’re at and came up with these ten needs that Christ richly supplies:
TEN NEEDS THAT CHRIST RICHLY SUPPLIES
(1) We need redemption and forgiveness; He is our redemption and the substitute for our sin penalty.
Ephesians 1:7, 8a (note): “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.”
(2) We need love; He predestined us in love to adoption as His children.
Ephesians 1:4, 5 (note), “In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.”
(3) We need holiness; He chose us to be holy and blameless in Him.
Although we formerly lived according to the lusts of the flesh (Ep 2:3-note), Ephesians 1:4 (note) tells us, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.”
(4) We need a sense of purpose; He made known to us the mystery of His will and created us in Christ for good works.
Ephesians 1:9 (note), “He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him.” And (Ep 2:10-note), “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
(5) We need an eternal inheritance; He predestined us to obtain that inheritance in Christ.
Ephesians 1:11 says that in Him we have obtained an inheritance, while Eph 1:14 (note) adds that the Holy Spirit has been given to us as the pledge of our inheritance.
(6) We need hope; God has made us fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (Eph 3:5-note).
If you want to read more about the unfathomable riches of Christ, read Spurgeon or Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who are far more eloquent than I am and who both experientially knew the riches of Christ far better than I do. But I hope that from this brief survey, you can see that we do not need to turn to the worldly insights of psychology to meet our deepest needs. We need to go deeper in our knowledge of the unfathomable riches of Christ for our souls.
One final thing to consider:
3. Christ invites you to come and partake freely of all that He is.
The word translated preach is literally, “to proclaim the good news.” It would not be good news to hear that Christ has unfathomable riches to offer, but you must earn them. It would not be good news to hear that you must first clean up your life to qualify for these riches. It is only good news if, as is really true, Christ offers these riches freely to all that call upon Him. He invites sinners (Matt. 11:28),
Come (functions as an imperative) to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
He promised (John 6:37),
All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.
Will you come to Christ?
It would be unthinkably foolish to hear that a treasure is avail-able for the taking, but to say, “Sorry, I’m too busy!” It would be an insult if a wealthy man sent his limousine to bring a hungry beggar to his lavish banquet, and the beggar said, “I can’t come until I can pay for it.”
Christ offers Himself freely to every sinner. He has unfathomable riches to bestow on you for the asking. Come to Him and begin to enjoy the treasure that you will go on discovering more of throughout all eternity!
Thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee.
Late in life, a pastor friend noticed that Newton was showing signs of old age and urged him to stop preaching and take life easy.
“What!” he replied, “shall the old African blasphemer stop while he can speak at all?”
He wrote his own epitaph:
John Newton, clerk, once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was by the mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had so long labored to destroy.
Late in life he said,
My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things, that I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior!
(In A Frank Boreham Treasury, compiled by Peter Gunther [Moody Press], pp. 72, 77, 78.)
Newton knew that sinners may freely partake of the unfathomable riches of Christ. Do you?
Can conviction of sin and repentance come after conversion or must these things be present for conversion to take place?
Neil Anderson argues that if you see yourself as a sinner, you will sin. Thus we should see ourselves only as saints who occasionally sin. Agree/disagree? Why?
Christian psychologists argue that sometimes a Christian needs more than the Bible to help with severe emotional problems. Agree/disagree? Why?
Discuss: God permits problems in our lives to teach us more about the all-sufficiency of Christ. If true, what implications does this have for “Christian psychology”?