What does Ephesians 3:4 mean?
ESV: When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ,
NIV: In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,
NASB: By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,
CSB: By reading this you are able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ.
NLT: As you read what I have written, you will understand my insight into this plan regarding Christ.
KJV: Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
NKJV: by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ),
Verse Commentary:
Paul noted that reading his letter would give wisdom into the mystery of Christ. Ephesians seems to have been written for more than one congregation. So, these words would have had a more important application as many readers would be included. The idea of "perceiving" Paul's insight was that of the readers understanding what Paul knew about the unity that was now available between Jews and Gentiles in Christ.

Again, mystery is emphasized (Ephesians 3:3). Colossians 4:3 is the only other passage where Paul uses the phrase "mystery of Christ." Paul refers to this as the reason he was in prison. Colossians and Ephesians were written around the same time, while Paul was under house arrest. The letters share several similarities which support the apostle Paul as the author of both. Ephesians is the only Prison Epistle, however, which does not include Timothy as a co-author. This may merely mean he is not mentioned, or perhaps that Paul scribed these words personally, or was assisted by someone other than Timothy.
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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