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The Epistles of Paul - Ephesians Part 3: The Household of the Mystery
Many of the things which we shall say here in our introduction to Ephesians chapter 3, we have already said in our other commentaries on Paul's epistles. This is because because Paul was teaching Covenant Theology throughout his epistles, and we are merely following along. Covenant Theology is the only true theology, and for as long as we are expositing Paul's letters, we shall be repeating many of these things over and again as often as Paul made reference to them.
But Covenant Theology is really just a belief in one simple concept: that Yahweh God actually keeps the promises which He had made to the forefathers of the Old Testament Israelites. Paul himself had said in Romans chapter 15 that it was the objective of Christ “to confirm the promises made unto the fathers”. With that acknowledgment, we have an obligation to study history and archaeology in order to find the correct identity of the Old Testament Israelites. Zacharias the priest prophesied of the purpose of the Messiah as it is recorded in the Gospel of Luke and he said “68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, 69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; 70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: 71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; 73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham”. Rather contrarily, Yahshua (Jesus) Christ Himself had told the Jews of His time that “ye are of your father the devil” and that “you are not My sheep” while also proclaiming that He had come only for the “lost sheep”, so at least many of the Jews of His time could not possibly have been Old Testament Israelites. In Romans chapter 9 it is learned that those many were actually Edomites, and that fact is corroborated in the histories of Flavius Josephus.
But speaking to the Ephesians here in the first two chapters of this epistle, Paul of Tarsus had spoken of the election of Yahweh God as God Himself had planned it from the beginning, “before the foundation of the society”. Then in connection with that election he spoke of preordination, alienation and reconciliation, of the forgiveness of sin, of the attainment of an inheritance, and that all of these things were in accordance with the design of the Will of God. As we have previously elucidated, all of these things were matters of prophecy and exclusively promised to the children of Israel in the books of the prophets. Then at the end of Ephesians chapter 2 Paul informs us that all of these things, as well as the Body of Christ, are founded not merely upon the apostles, but upon the apostles and the prophets.
Paul had also told the Ephesians in those first two chapters that they had “before had expectation in Christ”, and that they were dead in their sins in which they had at one time walked. These things could only be said of the alienated Old Testament Israelites who were being reconciled to God in Christ. So Paul informs them that “we being dead in transgressions, are made alive with the Anointed”, or made alive with Christ. The Ephesians must have been among the Old Testament Israelites spoken of by the prophets in order to be members of the Body of Christ founded upon the apostles and the prophets.
Where in Ephesians chapter 2 Paul had referred to the Ephesians as “the Nations in the flesh”, he was referring to them in much the same way as he had said in 1 Corinthians chapter 10 where he wrote “Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?” and then replied “20 But I say, that the things which the Nations sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God”. Saying that, Paul was informing the Corinthians that the Nations, or “Gentiles”, which he was describing as pagans were indeed the long-ago dispersed Old Testament Israelites, “Israel after the flesh”, a phrase which is better translated “Israel according to the flesh”. Studying classical history, comparing Homer to the attestations of Josephus, one may certainly discover the fact that the Corinthians, being Dorian Greeks, were descendants of the Israelites as Paul had said of them in that same chapter, that all their fathers were baptized with Moses in the cloud and in the sea. Paul of Tarsus had a ministry in Corinth because the Corinthians were descendants of the Old Testament Israelites.
Paul had also taught Covenant Theology throughout his epistle to the Romans, and he had explained to the Romans in the opening chapter of that epistle that they had at one time had the truth of God, and had turned it into a lie. That is precisely the story which the Old Testament relates concerning the Old Testament Israelites, and it is found throughout the historical books of Judges and Samuel and Kings and Chronicles where they were ultimately alienated for their idolatry. That is why Paul described his ministry as a ministry of reconciliation, in 2 Corinthians chapter 5 and elsewhere.
Then in Romans chapter 4 Paul told his readers that “13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: 15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. 16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, 17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. 18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.”
In this one statement by Paul, we see that Yahweh God would forgive Israel of their sins, and that the promises of God were immutable: that they were assured to those nations which had sprung from Abraham's seed, nations which did not exist when the promise was made. Paul referred to those nations of the promise as “those things which be not” because they had not yet existed when the promise was made. Therefore we are assured that by seed Paul was referring to the literal offspring of the promises to Abraham, according to the promise itself. The Judaeans of Paul's time were keeping the law, at least by appearance, but they were not the heirs simply because they were under the law. Many of them were not Israelites at all. The Old Testament Israelites had been scattered into many nations, fulfilling the promise to Abraham, and those were the nations of Paul's ministry of reconciliation. They were of the faith of Abraham, meaning that Abraham believed in them because he had believed the promises of God that his seed would become many nations. These nations, and these nations alone, are the so-called “Gentiles” of the King James Version.
As Paul had taught Covenant Theology in Romans and in 1 Corinthians, he had also taught it in his epistle to the Galatians, where he said that “16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made”, and “for if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise”, and then “wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” And finally “but when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” Like the Romans and the Corinthians, the Galatians, as well as these Ephesians, were at one time under the law, had sinned, were alienated from God, were granted mercy and forgiven for their sins in Christ, and were ultimately reconciled in the Gospel. Only these reconciled people, the true descendants of the Old Testament Israelites, have any of this promise in Christ. This understanding is Covenant Theology, and it was indeed the understanding of the apostles and prophets.
Let us look at Isaiah 66:19 and the course of the ministry of Paul of Tarsus. In Isaiah, Yahweh God is speaking of the children of Israel who were taken into captivity by the Assyrians in the 7th and 8th centuries BC. Now many Israelites had departed from the main body of Israel long before that, and among them were the Corinthians and the Romans, and these are not even mentioned in Isaiah 66:19. But most of those who remained were taken into Assyrian captivity, and the Galatians were among them. Speaking of these, Isaiah 66:19 says “And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles.” Now Tarshish was in Iberia, or Spain, and Paul had desired to go there as he expressed in Romans chapter 15, but he never quite made it. Others later brought Christianity to Spain in his place. Pul is ambiguous, and in scripture it stood as a name for Tiglath-Pileser, an Assyrian emperor who took many of the Israelites and resettled them in the north. Paul had indeed ministered in Pontus, Paphlagonia, Cappadocia, northern Syria and Cilicia, places in the vicinities of the original resettlement of Israel under the Assyrians. Lud is the Biblical reference to the ancient Lydians, a Shemitic people of western Anatolia, and this city of the Ephesians was at one time a Lydian city. The Etruscans of northern Italy were also descended from the Lydians, and both Romans and Galatae had also lived in that land in Paul's time. The people of Tubal also once dwelt along the southern coasts of the Black Sea, in regions which Paul had passed through and preached. The later epistles of Peter were addressed to assemblies throughout these areas. The people of Javan are the Ionian Greeks, and Paul had most of his ministry in proximity to the areas of Athens and Ionia, where many of the dispersed Israelites had settled. The Ionians also settled in Marseilles in southern France, and the Gauls were later found there as well. Israelites of the Assyrian deportations had gone and settled in all of these places where Isaiah had said that they would. There is no doubt that Paul's ministry followed the dispersions of the Old Testament Israelites as they were outlined in the books of the prophets, and as they could be followed in the classical histories.
This is the message that was persecuted by the Jews for nearly three hundred years, for as long as the Jews could instigate the pagan Romans against Christianity. This is also one reason why a universalist form of Christianity which was void of this message rose up in its place. We know this is the message which was persecuted, because we see that in Acts chapter 22 the Judaeans listened to Paul until he mentioned bringing of the Gospel to far-off nations, and then suddenly they demanded that he be put to death. Why, if the Judaeans opposed Christianity, would they be so upset that Paul would take Christianity to far-off nations? Because according to the prophets of Yahweh God, the true children of Israel had been scattered in those far-off nations. But the Judaeans had the pretense and appearance of being the people of the one true God, and they did not want to part with their exclusive claims, even if few of them were actually Israelites.
A Christianity which identifies true Israel is anathema to the Jew, and the Jew no longer holds his contrived position as “God's chosen people”. But a universalist Christianity is tolerable to the Jew, since it does not credibly challenge the stolen Jewish identity. So the Covenant Theology of Paul was persecuted and oppressed, and replaced with universalism in the early Christian centuries. As Christ had said in the Gospel, where it is recorded in Matthew chapter 23: “13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” As Paul had explained in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, using the present tense, in his own time Satan was seated in the temple of Yahweh, pretending for himself to be a god. They also seek to divert the true children of Yahweh from hearing their God.
With this we shall proceed with Ephesians chapter 3:
1 For this cause I, Paul, captive of Christ Yahshua on behalf of you of the Nations [here D interpolates “am ambassador”],
This is one of those epistles which Paul had written while he was under arrest in Rome, which is verified at the end of Ephesians chapter 6, and which is why he describes himself as a captive here. Using the Definite Article with the word for nations, Paul means to refer to specific nations, and not just any nations. Paul himself explains what nations they are, those specific nations which he discusses in Romans chapter 4, which are the nations of Abraham's seed.
2 if indeed you have heard of the management of the family of the favor of Yahweh which has been given to me in regard to you,
The Greek word οἰκονομία (Strong's # 3622) is primarily the management of a family, according to the Liddell & Scott Greek-English lexicon. Liddell & Scott also lists husbandry and thrift as alternate meanings of the word, and among others Thayer adds stewardship, none of which fit the context here, although at times they may be appropriate where Paul uses the word elsewhere. While οἰκονομία can be interpreted as stewardship in particular contexts, the most literal meaning is here the most appropriate within the context of Scripture, as we have just outlined the Covenant Theology being taught by Paul of Tarsus. The nations of Paul's ministry are the nations descended from Abraham's seed, and therefore they are also a family, so Paul describes his ministry as an οἰκονομία which is the management of a family.
Here the King James Version has dispensation, but Paul may have chosen any one of several other Greek words to clearly convey such a meaning. In fact, later in this chapter Paul uses the word κατοικέω in the sense of administration. While the King James Version may be defensible from a purely literal viewpoint, is Paul really the steward of God's grace? Or was Paul a steward of God's household, by bringing them the message of God's grace, which is the purpose of the Gospel? Paul considered himself to be a steward of God's household, as he explained in 2 Corinthians chapter 11 that upon him came “the care of all the churches” on a daily basis. Since οἰκονομία describes the management of a family, and Israel is the family of the favor of Yahweh, Paul's task was the stewardship of the family of the favor of Yahweh, but he was not the steward of the favor itself. Paul had referred to the “family of the faith” in Galatians chapter 6, distinguishing them from “all men”.
This word οἰκονομία appears in the Septuagint only twice, in Isaiah chapter 22 at verses 19 and 21. The corresponding Hebrew word is translated as government in the King James Version where it says “20 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah: 21 And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government [οἰκονομία in the LXX] into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.” While this prophecy is not of Paul, we nevertheless see how Paul understood the word οἰκονομία as it was used of one who is appointed to managing the household of God.
3 seeing that by a revelation the mystery was made known to me (just as I had briefly written before, 4 besides which reading you are able to perceive my understanding in the mystery of the Anointed,)
The mystery to which Paul refers has nothing to do with Yahshua (Jesus) Christ Himself, but it has everything to do with the purpose of Christ. In Isaiah chapter 43, Yahweh had spoke of the children of Israel of the Assyrian captivity, and He said to them in verses 2 and 19: “2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee ... 19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”
So the new thing that Yahweh was going to do was to watch over the children of Israel as they departed from the places to which the Assyrians had deported them. This “mystery” of which Paul speaks is this “new thing” which Yahweh said that He would do upon the earth in Isaiah. This describes the migrations of the children of Israel, and from around 700 BC onwards we see wave after wave of tribes called Kimmerians and Scythians and Sakae, and later Galatae and Gauls and Germans, in addition to their distinct tribal names, whose migrations were described by the Greeks and Romans as they crossed from Asia into Europe. We have every reason to connect these historical events and the Scripture. We have already discussed Isaiah 66:19, where the prophet had spoken in reference to the tribes of already-deported Israel, where he described where Yahweh their God had planned to send them. Therefore after Isaiah wrote his prophecy, the people who begin to appear in these areas must have been those same children of Israel which Isaiah said would appear in those areas.
There are other prophetic witnesses which testify to this same thing, and here I will quote one of my favorites, Micah 4:7 where through the prophet Yahweh had said of Israel: “And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even forever.” Now, if the children of Israel were “cast far off” and became strong nations as well as dispersed remnants along the way, then this certainly cannot have been fulfilled in Palestine, and the only people in history this could possibly describe are those Saxon-Germanic peoples who migrated out of Asia and into Europe shortly after Israel was deported and the prophets had written these things.
Hosea spoke in reference to this same thing in chapter 1 of his prophecy where he wrote concerning the same Israelites being taken into captivity: “10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. 11 Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.” Paul cited this passage in Romans chapter 9, speaking of those same Romans chapter 4 nations of Abraham's seed to which he had his ministry of reconciliation. Hosea is describing that very reconciliation. The texts of Romans 4, Romans 9 and 1 Corinthians 10, as well as Galatians chapters 3 and 4 and the first 3 chapters of this epistle to the Ephesians, all reveal Paul's understanding of the mystery of the Anointed: which is the identity of the Old Testament Israelites in his own time.
We must not be deceived. The Germanic and related peoples are indeed the dispersed of Israel, and Isaiah, who was second only to the Psalms as the most-often quoted Scripture of the New Testament writers, makes that perfectly clear! But the Romans and Dorians and Phoenicians represented earlier migrations of the same people. This is the fulfillment of those words which Yahweh spoke to David through Samuel the prophet, in 2 Samuel 7:10 where He said “10 Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more”. Those words being spoken in Palestine, then Palestine cannot be the appointed place. Rather, the journey to the appointed place is described in those last chapters of Isaiah. Paul continues speaking of this mystery and says:
5 which in other generations had not been made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed in His holy ambassadors [B has “in His saints”] and prophets by the Spirit,
This is one of the few times in the New Testament that the Greek word γενεά (Strong's # 1074) may properly be translated as generation in context, where it appears in the plural, since the object of the statement is the “sons of men”, meaning the men of the Adamic race as Paul had used the term in Romans 5:14, 1 Corinthians 15:22 and 15:45 and elsewhere. In their Greek-English lexicon, Liddell & Scott define γενεά as a “race, stock, family...a breed...a tribe, nation...2. a race, generation...3. offspring...II...2. age, time of life...” But even when the term is used in a context which would compel us to render it as generation rather than race, it is not proper to separate the meaning of the word from the concept of race, but rather to perceive it to be describing a generation of a particular race.
That this mystery of which Paul speaks had not been made known to men aforetime is also a matter of the prophecy of Isaiah, where Yahweh asks through the prophet “Who is blind, but my servant?” In Isaiah chapter 42 we read: “19 Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the LORD'S servant? 20 Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not. 21 The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable. 22 But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore. 23 Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and hear for the time to come? 24 Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the LORD, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law. 25 Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart.” The restoration mentioned here does indeed come to Jacob, in the form of Christ Himself. The reference to “prison houses” is a reference to the nations to which the Israelites would be sent, and Christ came “to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised”, referring to those same children of Israel, which He declares in Luke chapter 4 (Luke 4:18).
This blindness was also a matter of prophecy in Isaiah 29:10, where Yahweh informs Israel that He “has poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.” Blindness is a consequence of disobedience, and therefore in their period of punishment the children of Israel forgot who they were. In Christ, Paul received a revelation which is recorded in Acts chapter 9 where he was appointed by Christ to bear His Name “before both the Nations and kings of the sons of Israel”, as the phrase is translated in the Christogenea New Testament. Through the Scriptures, the Spirit led Paul to the discovery of those very same children of Israel.
Until Acts chapter 10, according to the words of the apostle Peter himself as they are recorded in Acts chapter 15, the apostles had only brought the gospel to those of the circumcision. It is Peter's experience in the household of the Roman centurion Cornelius to which he refers where he says later in Acts 15:7 that “ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Nations [or Gentiles] by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.” But it is clear in Acts 10 that Peter himself needed a revelation through the Spirit in order to agree to preach to Cornelius and his household. At first Peter resisted, where it says in verse 14 “But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.” Then Peter realized that the animals of the vision had really represented people, and for that reason he said in verse 28 of the same chapter “but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” However while this was the way Peter interpreted it, what the Word of God had actually said to Peter is in verse 15 of the chapter, where it says that Yahweh told him “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” So the object of the vision was for Peter to announce the Gospel to those men whom God had cleansed.
Throughout the books of the prophets, the Word of Yahweh says nothing about cleansing “gentiles”, and everything about cleansing the children of Israel who were put off by God. For instance, it says in Jeremiah chapter 33: “7 And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first. 8 And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me.” Later Peter must have come to understand this purpose, as in his first epistle he said to his Christian readers “9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light”, referring to the same revelation to which Paul refers here. Then Peter makes a reference to the same prophecy of Hosea which speaks of the reconciliation of Israel and he says “10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” These things can only be spoken of Old Testament Israelites. In verse 6 Paul describes the mystery revealed:
6 those Nations which are joint heirs and a joint body and partners of the promise [the MT has “His promise”; the text follows P46, א, A, B, C, and D] in Christ Yahshua, through the good message
The phrase εἶναι τὰ ἔθνη is rendered here as “those Nations which are”, and it may have been rendered “which Nations are” or “those Nations that are”. But the verb properly being an Infinitive (and not a 3rd Person Subjunctive as the King James Version has it), it may have been rendered “those Nations being” or “which Nations being”. Now, it may indeed have been rendered “the Nations being”, however something which is often overlooked in New Testament interpretation is that the use of the Definite Article indicates a reference to particular things and not merely to any things. Therefore the phrase “the Gentiles”, or “the Nations”, is a reference to particular nations and not merely to any nations, as the phrase is generally misinterpreted.
As Joseph Thayer explains in his Greek-English Lexicon, the Definite Article (here it is τὰ, the Accusative Neuter plural form of ὁ, Strong's # 3588) “is used with the names of things not yet spoken of, in order to show that definite things are referred to, to be distinguished from others of the same kind and easily to be known from the context” (Thayer, ὁ, II. b.). Similarly, the Liddell & Scott Greek-English lexicon describes the use of the Definite Article to refer to “outstanding members of a class” (L&S ὁ, B., I., 3.). Here Paul refers to certain nations, which is evident with his use of the Definite Article and the Accusative case and not, as the King James Version translators seem to have supposed, to any non-Judaeans whatsoever, or any other nations in general. Thayer tells us that we must look to the context to see which definite nations Paul is referring to, and as Paul had explained in Romans chapter 4, 1 Corinthians chapter 10 and Galatians chapters 3 and 4, the nations to which he was sent are the nations which resulted from the promises made to the fathers. Those promises are found in such places as Genesis 17:5-6, Genesis 35:11 and Genesis 48:19.
Whenever we translate a book, any book, we are often confronted with choices. So we can choose a way to translate a passage that reinforces the general context of the book, or perhaps we can choose a way to translate a passage that is just as literal, but which disregards the general context of the book. When making our Christogenea New Testament translation, we strove to adhere to the first method, to the best of our ability: to translate Paul's words, and the rest of the New Testament as well, so as to reflect the context of the Biblical narrative as emphatically as possible within the confines of the meanings of the Greek words and phrases.
Many people hear what Identity Christians have to say, and they exclaim “Oh, that's British Israel”, as if that discredits our claims. British-Israel has been discredited, and it has certainly merited its fate. But we will not be discredited, because we are not teaching British Israel. Rather, we are teaching the same Covenant Theology found in Genesis 17:5-6, 35:11 and 48:19, which Paul also taught in Romans chapters 4 and 9, 1 Corinthians chapter 10 and Galatians chapters 3 and 4, as well as here in these first three chapters of Ephesians. Speaking of those particular nations, Paul then says:
7 of which I have become a servant in accordance with the gift of the favor of Yahweh which has been given to me, in accordance with the operation of His power.
The gift which Paul was granted was the knowledge of the identity of the “lost” children of Israel so that he could fulfill his ministry of reconciliation, as he himself had called it in his second epistle to the Corinthians. Paul was telling the “lost” children of Israel who they were, and by bringing them this knowledge he was performing the function of the Gospel to open the eyes of the blind, as Christ had described from Isaiah.
8 To me, the least of all saints, [P46 wants “saints”] has been given this favor, to announce the good message to [D and the MT have “among”; the text follows P46, א, A, B, and C] the Nations - the unsearchable riches of the Anointed,
Paul humbles himself as he explains in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 where he says: “9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” However Paul must also have understood the words of Christ in the Gospel where He said, as it is recorded in Matthew chapter 18, “4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” So each Christian should endeavor to humble himself, but true Christian humility is to subject oneself to the Word of God.
From Psalm 112: “1 Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. 2 His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed. 3 Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever. 4 Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.”
9 and to enlighten all concerning the management of the household of the mystery which was concealed from the ages by Yahweh, by whom all things are being established.
The Majority Text adds the phrase “through Yahshua Christ” to the end of this verse; the text follows the 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B), Ephraemi Syri (C), and Bezae (D).
We learned from the Interlinear Greek New Testament authored by George Ricker Berry that the manuscripts of the 16th and 17th centuries edited by Stephens and Elzevir, which were based on manuscripts that were first edited by Erasmus, have κοινωνία (Strong's # 2842) here rather than οἰκονομία, and since the King James translators employed the manuscript of Stephens (Elzevir was later), we read fellowship here in the King James Version instead of οἰκονομία or management of the household. The Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece does not generally consider the readings of such late manuscript editors, and attests that the manuscripts of the Majority Text have οἰκονομία, and not κοινωνία. Advocates of the so-called Textus Receptus usually do not realize that the King James translators sometimes departed from the Majority Text, and therefore they themselves did not consider it to be an absolute authority. Neither should the Textus Receptus be confused with the Majority Text. Rather, the Textus Receptus is properly only an edited version of some of the manuscripts of the Majority Text.
So here we encounter the Greek word οἰκονομία once again, and once again our view of the Scriptures and the purpose of the Gospel governs the manner in which we translated the word. Paul had a stewardship, but that stewardship was the management of the household of Yahweh, which was the “family of the faith” as he called them in Galatians chapter 6, which are the children of Israel and Judah being reconciled to God in Christ as it was prophesied in places such as Jeremiah 33:7-8, which we have just cited.
We have already quoted Isaiah 29:10 where Yahweh said, in not so many words, that the children of Israel would be blind as a result of their punishment, and He said there that He “has poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.” We have also already cited Isaiah 43:19 where Yahweh said: “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah chapter 29 contains many of the same warnings concerning Israel as chapters 41 through 43. Here we shall also reference Isaiah 29:13-14 in regard to this same mystery of which Paul speaks, where the prophet writes concerning Israel and says: “13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.”
The wisdom of the wise men has perished, and they scoff at the Gospel of the reconciliation of true Israel to Yahweh their God. The understanding of prudent men is hid, and it is a struggle indeed to reach our people with this message of the true Gospel of Christ. We would encourage all Christians to read the whole of Isaiah, as well as the other prophets, in this historical context, because Covenant Theology is the profession and acceptance of the entire Word of God, without corrupting the meanings of plain words.
10 In order that the exceedingly intricate wisdom of Yahweh would now become known to the realms and to the authorities in heavenly places through the assembly,
The heavenly places that Paul speaks of here are the seats of government and the institutions of nations. Today, colleges and universities pretend to teach Christians, however it should be the other way around. At one time Christianity prevailed in Europe, and it was the other way around. Now for several centuries Judaism has dominated European thought and we are led to worship the gods of Secularism, but soon it will be the other way around once again. Christians should be teaching colleges and universities! The common people of the assemblies of Yahweh God are the revealers of truth, and not the Jews or the professional priesthoods, who are the merchants of Babylon. Paul concludes by stating that all of this is:
11 in accordance with the purpose of the ages, which He has done in Yahshua Christ our Prince.
Saying “the purpose of the ages” Paul affirms that the purpose of Yahshua Christ in the New Testament is the same purpose which Yahweh God had announced through the prophets in the Old Testament. It is also the purpose which He had “before the foundation of the world”, as Paul said in chapter 1 of this epistle. Having that same purpose from the beginning, those who wish to understand it must turn to the prophets of the Old Testament where it was expressed. For that reason, as Paul says at the end of chapter 2 of this epistle, the Body of Christ is built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. In that manner, it can only consist of the descendants of Old Testament Israelites, because the promises of God in the prophets only concern them.
12 With whom we have freespokenness and access in confidence [D has “access in which to be free”] through His faith.
The Greek word παρρησία (Strong's # 3954) is, in a good sense, “freespokenness, openness, frankness” and in a bad sense, “licence of tongue”, according to Liddell & Scott. In the Gospel, the word appears frequently in John, such as in Chapter 7 where it says of those who observed the ministry of Christ “13 Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews.” While the King James Version has “plainness of speech” where Paul used the word in 2 Corinthians 3:12, that does not relate the full meaning in today's language, and usually that meaning is further obfuscated in the translations of the epistles in the King James Version where it is often rendered only as boldness or confidence. The word primarily means freedom or openness of speech, which all Christians may expect to have in Christ. However Paul did use the word παρρησία several times in his epistle to the Hebrews in contexts where it may be translated simply as liberty (Hebrews 3:6, 4:16, 10:19 and 10:35).
To elucidate what Paul seems to have meant by this freespokenness to which he refers here, we shall quote from the Christogenea New Testament version of 1 John 2:27-29, where John also used the word παρρησία: “27 And the anointing which you have received from Him, it abides in you and you have no need that one should teach you, but as His anointing teaches us concerning all things and is true and is not a lie, then just as He has taught you, you abide in Him. 28 And now, children, you abide in Him, that if He should appear, we would have freespokenness and would not be dishonored by Him at His presence. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you also know that each who is practicing righteousness has been born from of Him.”
Practicing righteousness means upholding the law of God, as Christ had said “if you love Me, keep My commandments”. Therefore Christians should speak of such things freely before men, as we may read the words of Paul in Philippians chapter 1, where he spoke of his defense of Christianity before the emperor Nero and he said: “19, For I know that this for me will result in preservation, through your supplication and the additional fortune of the Spirit of Yahshua Christ 20 in accordance with my eager expectation and hope, seeing that in nothing shall I be ashamed, but with all freespokenness - as always - even now Christ shall be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” So from these passages we may deduce that Christians should speak freely of Christ before men, meaning that they propagate a Christian society and Christian law and obedience to God, and doing so Christians also have the hope of speaking freely before God, in life or in death.
Paul had written those words in Philippians not long after he wrote this epistle to the Ephesians. The passage in Philippians was written after his first defense of Christianity in Rome, and this epistle to the Ephesians was written while he was still anticipating that appearance. In this context the following words are to be understood:
13 On which account I beg for myself not to falter in my afflictions on behalf of you [P46 has “us”], which is your honor.
The Greek verb αἱτοῦμαι is a 1st person Medium form of αἱτέω (Strong's # 154), and Liddell & Scott explain that with such a use the verb means “II. Medium to ask for oneself, to claim...but often used just like Active...” The Medium Voice is typically used when the subject of the action is also the recipient of the action, and the meaning is “I beg for myself” because here there is no other recipient of the action, and since there is no word for “you” in the text the reading of this phrase in the King James Version is impossible.
Furthermore, the second verb, ἐγκακεῖν is an Infinitive form of ἐγκακέω (Strong's # 1457), and it is to faint or to falter. Infinitives having no number, it cannot be a second person verb as it is rendered here in the King James Version.
Paul is not asking his readers not to falter. Rather, Paul is telling his readers that he prays that he himself may not falter in the mission to which he has been assigned on their behalf. Paul knows that he is about to defend his faith before the emperor, and hopes that his affliction on behalf of all Christians is for the honor of those Christians.
Paul had little chance against great adversaries. Nero seems to have hated Christians already, as did many Romans. The reasons for the hatred of Christians were, according to Tertullian and other early writers, that the Jews had spread many abominable rumors about them as propaganda to turn the Romans against them. This was the same pattern of lies that Jews deployed against Germany in the two great wars of the 20th century.
From the closing verses of the Book of Acts, as well as from the content of his epistles, it is evident that Paul of Tarsus was executed by Nero before the great fire that destroyed most of Rome in the summer of 64 AD. Nero himself was blamed for the fire, and the historian Tacitus informs us, in Book 15 of his Annals of Rome, that “Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.” Tertullian and other early Christian apologists explain the Jewish hand behind this slander of Christians. The Jews were able to defame Christians in Rome to an even greater extent than they had more recently defamed Nazis in Britain and America! Paul continues:
14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father [D and the MT interpolate “of our Prince Yahshua Christ”; the text follows P46, א, A, B, and C], 15 from whom the whole family in the heavens and upon earth is named,
Here in verse 15 the King James Version actually did well. The phrase πᾶσα πατριὰ is correctly “the whole family” and not, as some other versions have it, “every family”. The word πατριά (Strong's # 3965) is singular, and the word πᾶς (Strong's # 3956) is “all, when used of many; when of one only, all, the whole”, according to Liddell & Scott. As other interpreters have it, such as in the New American Standard Bible where it says “every family” here, both words should be plural, but in Paul's Greek they are both singular. Paul may easily have written the plural, i.e. “all the families” but that certainly would not agree with Scripture or with Paul’s other statements.
Paul's statement here affirms our interpretation of the word οἰκονομία as the management of a family where it appears in two passages earlier in this chapter. Here we see that it is indeed a family with which Paul is concerned. That family can only be the children of Israel, the Israelites of the Old Testament prophets whom Paul also appeals to in this very chapter. This is the only family which Yahweh God has admitted to having known, in Amos chapter 3 where He says “1 Hear this word that the LORD hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, 2 You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” This is the same “family of the faith” to which Paul had referred in Galatians chapter 6. This “whole family” of Paul's is the same “whole family” of Amos.
16 in order that He would give to you, in accordance with the riches of His honor, the ability to be strengthened through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 to administer the Anointed through the faith in your hearts, being planted and founded in love,
The word κατοικῆσαι is “to administer” here, and it is an Infinitive form of κατοικέω (Strong's # 2730) which is “to dwell in as a κάτοικος [settler], to settle in, colonise...generally, to inhabit...II. in Passive, of a state, to be administered, governed...” (Liddell & Scott). We have interpreted it as administer for two reasons. First, because the noun, χριστός, is in the Accusative case. It must be the object of the verb, and not the subject of the verb as it appears in the King James Version. Secondly, because the subject of Paul's discourse remains “the whole family”, and evidently it is the family which needs to be settled, or administered, and not Christ.
We may imagine, or want to imagine, that the intended root verb may have been κατοικίζω, which is “to remove to a place, plant, settle or establish...” (Liddell & Scott) and so the verse would be read here “to establish the Anointed”. The verb κατοικίζω appears in one other place in the New Testament, at James 4:5, and evidently Strong and many of those who follow either misidentify that word with κατοικέω, or purposely neglect any distinction between the two verbs. Moulton and Geden in their Concordance to the Greek Testament do make the proper distinction between the two verbs, as do Liddell & Scott and Thayer, so we chose to maintain the distinction and adhere to the definitions provided for κατοικέω.
18 that you are quite able to comprehend along with all of the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of the Anointed, being beyond knowledge, in order that you [P46 and B have “one”; the text follows א, A, C, D, and the MT] would be filled with all the fullness of Yahweh.
Yahweh expressed His love for “the whole family” of the Old Testament Israelites in the prophets. Two examples are found in Deuteronomy chapter 33 and Isaiah chapter 43.
From Deuteronomy chapter 33: “1 And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. 2 And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them. 3 Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words.”
And from Isaiah chapter 43: “3 For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. 4 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. 5 Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; 6 I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth”.
Since, according to Paul himself, the body of Christ is built upon the foundation of the apostles and these prophets, the seed being gathered in Christ must be the legitimate offspring of these same Old Testament Israelites, whom Yahweh has loved.
Jeremiah wrote long after most of Israel had been sent off into captivity, and in the very chapter where we see the promise of a new covenant for Israel and Judah, in Jeremiah chapter 31, we read: “1 At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. 2 Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest. 3 The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. 4 Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.”
The people who found grace in the wilderness are the survivors of the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities who did not return to Palestine. Yahweh God loves the Old Testament Israelites, the “family of the faith”, with an everlasting love.
20 But to He who is able above all to do [P46 and D have “to do all”; the text follows א, A, B, C, I, 0285, and the MT] beyond measure whatever we ask or think, according to the ability which is operating in us, 21 to Him is the honor in the assembly and [the MT wants “and”; the text follows P46, א, A, B, C, and D] in Christ Yahshua, for all generations for eternity. Truly.
Fittingly, the apostle John in chapter 5 of his first epistle uses that Greek word for freespokenness, παρρησία, and says “14 And this is the freespokenness which we have before Him, that whatever we may ask in accordance with His will He hears us.” So whatever we may ask or think may be given to us, so long as we first conform our minds to Christ.