What does Ephesians 3:11 mean?
ESV: This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,
NIV: according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
NASB: This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,
CSB: This is according to his eternal purpose accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
NLT: This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.
KJV: According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:
NKJV: according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,
Verse Commentary:
This mystery which God has revealed regards Jews and Gentiles as one (Ephesians 3:1–10). Though not fully explained until now, this is not a new idea God dreamed up. He did not invent this plan at the last minute, but rather knew about it in eternity past. Some Scriptures imply God's intentions before "the foundations of the earth" (Proverbs 3:19; Job 38:4; Isaiah 48:13) Here, Paul notes that this it was part of God's eternal purpose. God has always known His plan and revealed it exactly as prepared. God's plans are not only known, but He "works all things according to the counsel of His will" (Ephesians 1:11).

This plan was "realized in Christ Jesus our Lord." In other words, the mystery was revealed through Jesus. He is the Messiah and fulfillment of past prophecies concerning the Coming One, God with us (Emmanuel), and the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53). It is through Jesus that salvation has been provided equally for both Jew and Gentile, not through the law, but through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9).
Verse Context:
Ephesians 3:1–13 explains Paul's ministry in the context of God's revealed mystery. Paul was called as a minister to the Gentiles, though he preached to anyone who would listen. Prior to this calling, however, he had persecuted the church as an unbeliever. Only God's divine grace saved Paul, and only God's divine grace causes the family of the church to grow. Even angels are learning more about the mysteries of God as they observe Him working through His church.
Chapter Summary:
Ephesians chapter 3 wraps up Paul's doctrinal teaching and introduces its practical application. Paul refers to both his imprisonment and to his spiritual calling. This calling includes proclaiming the fact that all people, Jew and Gentile, can now be part of the same spiritual family. Paul also prays for the spiritual strength of the Ephesian church, as he prepares to explain how knowledge about Christ should translate into living for Christ.
Chapter Context:
The first three chapters of Ephesians are doctrinal, the last three are practical. Chapter 3 begins the transition from a Christian understanding of salvation, grace, and the power of Christ into a practical guide for Christian living. To make the transition, in this chapter, Paul refers to his own calling by God and prays for the spiritual strength of the Ephesian church. The early verses of chapter 4 will flow out of Paul's references to his own imprisonment.
Book Summary:
Ephesians follows a theme common in Paul's writings: connecting theory with practice. In this book, however, he goes into greater depth before making the transition. As a letter meant to be read by more than just the believers at Ephesus, this is an important look at how Christian belief should translate into Christian action. The first three chapters lay out spiritual ideas, the last three chapters show how these truths should be applied in the life of a mature believer. Paul focuses heavily on love, the unity of the Christian church, and the incredible value of our salvation through Christ.
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