These verses deal with God’s purpose to form a people for himself and to sum up all things in Christ. Note the reiteration of ‘in Christ’ or ‘in him’.
- In verses 3-6 we are shown this people as conceived in the mind of God. What do we learn here concerning God’s choice of us, his gifts to us, and his purpose for us? Do such thoughts immediately move us, as they moved Paul, to say ‘Praise be to … God’? See Note 2 below
- In verses 7-14 we are shown this same people in process of redemption from sin. What parts are played in this work by: (a)God the Father, (b)God the Son, (c)God the Holy Spirit? Of what benefits are we assured her? What response is necessary on our part for their enjoyment?
- Verse 3. ‘In the heavenly realms’: a phrase emphasizing that the believer’s blessings are spiritual, in contrast to the earthly and material blessing promised to Israel under the first covenant. Cf. Deut.28:8. The phase occurs five times in this epistle. See 1:20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12. It refers to what today we might term ‘the spirit realm’, or ‘the heavenly sphere’.
- Verses 6, 12, 14. Note the recurring reference to ‘the praise of his glory’. ‘The design of redemption is to exhibit the grace of God in such a conspicuous manner as to fill all hearts with wonder and all lips with praise’ (Charles Hodge).
- Verse 13. ‘Marked with a real’: a mark of God’s ownership.
- Verse 14. “Guarantee’ or ‘earnest’ (AV, RV): a first instalment given as a pledge that all promised will be paid in full.
- What can we learn from this example concerning the way to pray for our fellow-Christians? When we do so, what ought to be our chief interest and concern? What are the three great spiritual truths that the apostle prays that his readers may grasp?
- Consider Christ’s present position as set forth in verses 20-23 in relation to: (a) God, (b) other powers and authorities, (c) the universe, and (d) the church. In the light of these verses has our conception of Christ been big enough?
- Verse 18. ‘His glorious inheritance in the saints’: be careful to note that this is a reference not to our inheritance in him but to his inheritance in us. Cf. Exod. 19:5, 6; Titus 2:14.
- Verse 22, 23. ‘The church,… his body, the fullness of him’: as God of old dwelt in the temple and filled it with glory, or as the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Jesus (Col. 1:19; 2:9, 10), so Christ now dwells in his church in his fullness. He fills it with his presence.
- Verses 1-10. Work out the contrast between man’s condition by nature and his position in Christ. What are we said here to be saved: (a) from, and (b) for, or to enjoy? How has this amazing change been effected, and how does its enjoyment become ours?
- Verses 11-22. Before Christ came, Jew and Gentile remained separate – kept apart in the temple courts by ‘dividing wall’ (verse 14). How did God deal with this situation through Christ’s coming? What is now the position of believers, whether Jews or Gentiles, in relation to: (a) God, and (b) one another? What three metaphors are used in verses 19-22 to show the complete equality of privilege that Gentile believers enjoy in Christ with those of Jewish birth.
Notes. Verse 2, 3. ‘Those who are disobedient’, ‘objects of wrath’: these phrases follow in their from Hebrew idioms. They describe those who are deliberately giving themselves to active rebellion against the will of God, and consequently are exposed to his active displeasure.
The apostle shows that the union of Jews and Gentiles in one body in Christ was in God’s purpose from the beginning, though only now fully revealed to men.
- Verses 1-13. What were Paul’s personal calling and commission in relation to: (a) the gospel, and (b) the Gentiles? Why was he chosen, and how was he qualified, for such service? Do you share his conviction that to suffer in such a cause is something to glory in rather than to be depressed about?
- Verses 14-21. Trace the progressive stages in Paul’s prayer for his readers. What blessings would its full answer bring into our lives? What guarantees that such an answer is more than possible? What ought we also to learn concerning the way to pray for our fellow-Christians?
- What are the things included in the eternal purpose of God in Christ, in which Paul and al members of Christ’s church are called to share? How can we more fully enter into our calling?
- Verse 1. Cf. 6:19, 20. Paul knew that his imprisonment was in the will of God, and in the interests of the truth and the spread of the gospel.
- Verses 2 and 9. ‘Administration’, ‘plan’: Greek ‘oikonomia’. The word refers originally to household management. In verse 9 (cf. 1:10), the reference is to God’s administration, to his working out of his purpose in Christ. In verse 2, it is used of Paul’s part in this – I.e., of the special commission assigned to Paul. Cf. 1 Cor. 9:16, 17.
- Verses 3, 4, 9. ‘The mystery’:i.e., divine truth hidden from natural discovery by men, but now specially revealed by the Spirit – particularly here the full content of God’s plan for men’s salvation.