What does Ephesians 3:5 mean?
ESV: which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.
NIV: which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.
NASB: which in other generations was not made known to mankind, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;
CSB: This was not made known to people in other generations as it is now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:
NLT: God did not reveal it to previous generations, but now by his Spirit he has revealed it to his holy apostles and prophets.
KJV: Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
NKJV: which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets:
Verse Commentary:
This verse contrasts a mystery, made clear to apostles and prophets in Paul's generation, which had not been explained in the past. The reference to "sons of men" is interesting, used elsewhere only in the Old Testament in relation to people in general (2 Samuel 7:14; Psalm 45:2). Paul contrasts "other generations" with the generation in which he and his readers lived. This was an exciting time, during which Jesus lived on earth and fuller revelation was given to His apostles and prophets.

The emphasis on "by the Spirit" is also important. The church age is marked by a special presence of the Holy Spirit. This began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). The Spirit's indwelling presence in all believers included revealing this particular mystery to the early church's leaders: that Jews and Gentiles are now one in Christ Jesus. This took some time, as church leaders had to meet to discuss this issue, in Jerusalem (Acts 15). Paul and Peter still struggled over this topic, as explained in Galatians. However, the church rapidly came to fully understand that God had given the Spirit to Gentiles in the same manner as He had with Jews. There was no distinction; both were equal in the body of Christ.
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.
Accessed 7/17/2024 11:49:05 AM
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