The apostle Paul was a very humble man. The choice servants of God are, generally speaking, the most humble. The reasons for their humility are that they are most aware of their own sinfulness, they have greater discoveries of God's love and grace in Christ and, being more sorely tried, they lean more completely on the arm of grace.
(Vs. 8.) Paul saw great grace in being trusted with the ministry of the gospel and having such treasure put in an earthen vessel. He was appointed to take the gospel of Christ to the Gentiles.
(Vs. 9.) The mystery mentioned in this verse is the gospel of Christ (Mark 4:11; 1 Cor. 2:7,8). Natural men do not understand the gospel of substitution, do not see the wisdom of the cross and therefore must be born again, regenerated and taught of God (John 3:3; 6:44,45). The ministry of the Word is the means God uses to enlighten men (Rom. 10:13-15). The gospel was there from the beginning in the counsel and covenant of God; for he created all things in, by and for Christ (Col. 1:14-17); but it was hidden in some measure from the elect angels, from even the Old Testament saints and altogether from natural men.
(Vs. 10.) The purpose is that through and by the church of the Lord Jesus Christ the complex, many-sided wisdom of God in justifying the ungodly by Christ Jesus might be made known to the angels and powers even in heaven (l Peter l:12). The angels are witnesses of God's mercy to the church in Christ (Heb. 1:14).
(Vs. 11.) All of the salvation of sinners in Christ (which displays the wisdom and mercy of God) is according to his own eternal purpose, which he purposed in Christ before the world began. Christ the Redeemer and the time of his incarnation, sufferings and resurrection were all decreed by God (Acts 4:26-28). The persons for whom he became incarnate, suffered and died were chosen in him (Eph. 1:3-5).
(Vs. 12.) Therefore, because we are redeemed by Christ, our Representative (Rom. 5:19; 1 Cor. 15:21, 22) and Substitute, and God has enabled us to believe on Christ (who is the object of saving faith), we have boldness to enter into the very presence of God with courage and confidence (Heb. 10:19-22).
(Vs. 13.) "So I ask you not to be discouraged because of the trials and troubles I have gone through to preach the gospel to you. I am not ashamed to be identified with Christ in reproach (Heb. 13:13) and hatred (John 15:18,19). It is an honour to be counted worthy to suffer with him (Heb. 11:24-26; 2 Cor. 1:6).
(Vs. 14.) "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father." The awesome responsibility of ministering the gospel, the privilege of access to the throne of grace and the perseverance of the believers in Ephesus led Paul to pray for them (2 Cor. 2:14-16; 3:5).
(Vs. 15.) He is the Father of all believers, all the elect in heaven and earth (John 1:12; 20:17).
(Vs. 16-19.) This is the prayer Paul prayed for them:
1. That God would strengthen them so that they would not faint under trial. That the Holy Spirit would strengthen their spirits, their hearts and their inner selves with fresh supplies of grace. Strength to live for God's glory is from within (John 7:37-39).
2. This is the true source of all spiritual life, the key to union with the Father, the fountainhead of all blessings and the hope of eternal life "Christ in you" (Gal. 4:19; Col. 1:27). That they might be rooted and grounded deep in love for Christ. This is our security his love for us and our love for him.
3. That they might be able, with all believers, to have a greater understanding of the great love of God for us what is the breadth, the length, the height and the depth of his love (Rom. 5:8).
4. That they might understand more of the special and peculiar love of Christ for his church, which is beyond perfect knowledge (his engaging to be Surety for them, his assumption of their nature, his payment for their debts, his giving them a perfect righteousness, his intercession, his constant supply of mercy and grace). We have some knowledge of it, but the more of it we know, the more we will be filled and flooded with Christ himself.
(Vs. 20, 21.) The prayer closes with a celebration of the perfection, power and glory of God. God begins, carries on and finishes the work he purposed to do for his people. This work of eternal redemption will be infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams.