Lesson 13: The Wisdom of the Mystery Revealed: Part 3 of 3 (series: Lessons on Ephesians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

“In whom we have boldness and access.” “In whom”; or by whom, or through whom, or into whom (being engrafted and incorporated), “we have boldness and access” to the Savior, Jesus Christ. It is only because of Him that we, Gentiles, have this liberty of speech, whereby we may say anything by prayer and supplication; and it is only through Him that we have this introduction into the Divine presence by faith in Christ. It is only in His name we can pray to God, and it is only through Him that we can come to God. There is no one else that can give us an introduction to God but Christ Jesus, and it is only for His sake that God will either hear or save us. It is on the basis of such scriptures as these that we conclude all our prayers in the name, and for the sake, of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Like many other passages in the Pauline writings, this corresponds very closely to the book of Hebrews (Hebrews 4:16{5]). Christian boldness or freeness of speech is revealed as being at least partially the responsibility of the Christian himself to maintain it, encourage it in others, and to manifest it openly in all places and circumstances. It is the spiritual equivalent of the confidence displayed by a good athlete who “talks a good game” with his teammates, while displaying at all times a winning attitude; it is the reverse of that fear which the consciousness of unpardoned sin produces both in our race and in our individual guilty conscience. This boldness, literally, freedom of address, is the state, gift, and enjoyment of the reconciled soul in addressing God. It signifies that liberty and spiritual security, by which we come to God as to a Father, in the freedom of children, not the fear of slaves (See Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6; 1 John 3:21). It is unrestrained liberty of speech, such as children use in addressing an indulgent father, when, without fear of offending, they disclose all their wants, and make known all their requests.

“Access” is Paul's word for the privilege of approaching God in prayer, of coming boldly to the throne of grace, of possessing the right to petition the Father through identity with the Lord Jesus Christ, and needing no go-between, mediator, priest or any other person who claims to be a dispenser of spiritual privilege, or even an aid in such things. Christians are priests of God in Christ Jesus who is the “One Mediator,” and no other mediators are needed; nor is the name of any saint, nor the use of any religious device or symbol, nor is the requirement of any human creed. No creed can circumvent or countermand this fundamental right of the redeemed in Christ, who without any qualification whatever have “access with boldness” to God “in Christ Jesus.” Is this through their own faith in Christ? NO, but by reason of the perfect faith and obedience of Christ, and in the meaningful sense, actually Christ, who is a part of His spiritual body.

There is yet another sense in which the word “access” is used; that is, to signify an access by way of “introduction.” One of the best illustrations of this is in the Bible; a little further on in our Genesis study we will be told that Joseph took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim by the hand and presented them to Jacob; so does Christ take His people and lead them into His Father’s presence. The believer has access to the throne of God; not only in prayer, but in all the close associations we have with God by faith in Christ. Peter wrote: “For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God….” (1 Peter 3:18); that is, reconcile us to God, and procure for us access to Him with freedom and boldness (Romans 5:2 Ephesians 3:12).

“With confidence by the faith of him” means either securely without fear, or with confidence of acceptance by God, and obtaining what we ask for, “by” or through, “the faith of him” that is, “faith in Him”—namely, Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22; Mark 11:22).

That faith whose object is Jesus, is the means by which all who are Christ’s obtain “boldness,” for their belief in the Divine Mediator gives them courage; and “access,” for their realization of His glorified humanity warrants and enables them to approach the throne of grace. These blessings are possessed “in confidence,” for they feel that for Christ’s sake their persons and services will be accepted by the Father.

The sense of the phrase “by the faith of him” is that we may now come confidently and boldly to the throne of grace for mercy in the name of the Redeemer. Boldness is not rashness; and faith is not presumption; but we may come without hesitation, and with an assurance that our prayers will be heard.

We perceive that this entire verse is a picture of Oriental despotism. We are afraid to approach the royal presence, but the monarch’s son is our benefactor. Fear is therefore removed. By faith in that Son, we will have freedom to speak, an introduction, and confidence of receiving our request.

13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

“Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you.” The words translated here as, “Wherefore I desire,” have also been rendered, “I pray you.” This is an exhortation to the Ephesians, not a prayer to God, for that follows in Ephesians 3:14.

The apostle was a man that had to deal with many tribulations, and great afflictions, either from God or men, and he did not undergo them because he was a bad man. He was not ashamed because of them, but instead, he gloried in them and took pleasure in them, for they had a lot of the presence of God in them. They did not come to Him as a surprise, since he always expected them, and he always looked forward to the glory which followed them. This was his support while he was afflicted by them; and these tribulations were endured for the sake of the elect, for Christ's body's sake; the church, and among other things he endured for the Ephesians, for the sake of preaching the Gospel among them, and for proof of their faith in it. And yet they were a stumbling block to them. They were ready to faint at the thought of them; but he hoped they would not, since they were sent on account of the Gospel, which he had such a distinct knowledge of, and so clear a call to preach it. The apostle preached the truth, but the preaching of the Gospel, he says, was the cause of my sufferings, and your salvation. And since tribulations were sent for their sakes, and since he and they had such nearness of access to God by the faith of Christ, with so much boldness and confidence; and seeing also that they turned to their account: which is your glory; meaning either that it was a matter of glorying to them, and what they might boast of, that the apostle's afflictions were not for any crime that he had done, but for preaching the Gospel to them, and that it was an honor to suffer in such a cause; or that their perseverance and consistency in the doctrines of the Gospel, notwithstanding the scandal of the cross, would be an honor to them.

“Which is your glory,” refers to “tribulations,” and that means they are “your glory.” The thought is not that it would be a disgrace for them to have a founder who fainted or fell away from Christ when faced with tribulations, and that his not fainting is their glory, but that the reason they should not faint is the nature of his tribulations, as the Apostle to the Gentiles. They were for his readers, were tokens of the love of God in sending His ministers to suffer tribulation so that the Gospel might be universal and the Gentiles share in its blessings. It was the sympathy of Christ, in whom the Apostle’s “boldness and access” was possessed “in confidence,” that gave to him such sympathy for them. He was concerned for them rather than for himself. It will be seen how well this view agrees when the thought is resumed in Ephesians 3:14, and the subsequent prayer.

Scripture and Special Notes

[1} “Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the Gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into” (1 Peter 1:12).
[2} “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the Gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into” (1 Peter 1:10-12).
[3} “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” (Colossians 1:15-16).
[4} principalities and powers⸺the angelic hosts; the intelligent beings that surround the throne of God.
[5} “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

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