Winger, Thomas M. "The Mystery of Paul's Apostolic Mandate: The Gospel of Christ for the Gentiles 3:1-13." Ephesians. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2014, 352-388.
Ephesians 3:1 opens with a causal statement, "for this reason.' Winger questions what the antecedent reason is, and finds that the thought which consumed part or all of chapter two is interrupted logically by 3:1-13. The thought is then completed in verse 14 - God's reconciliation of Gentiles, Jews, and Himself is the reason which moves Paul to prayer (Winger 2014, 352). Meanwhile, he has digressed in 3:2-13.
In Ephesians 3:1 we read for the first time about Paul's state as a prisoner (Winger 2014, 353). Winger references Colossians 1:24 to describe Paul as continuing in Christ' sufferings. Rather than suffering pointlessly, Paul asserts that there is a benefit to the Gentiles found in his suffering (Winger 2014, 354).
In Ephesians 3:2, Winger takes Paul to be asserting that the Ephesians have certainly heard of God's grace given to Paul on behalf of the Ephesians (Winger 2014, 354). Winger takes the grace given to be the apostolic office which Paul then administers for the benefit of the Ephesians. The concept of the apostolic office as a grace appears three times in this pericope (Winger 2014, 355).
Ephesians 3:3 speaks of the mystery revealed to Paul. Winger considers this mystery to consist not only of the revelation of the Holy Spirit, but also what Paul has recognized through study of Scripture (Winger 2014, 356). Paul's realization is that God has provided salvation for Gentiles as well as Jews.
Ephesias 3:4 is grammatically slightly opaque, with an unexpected prepositional phrase. Winger considers the thrust to be that of a need for reading the writings of Paul (and others) when assembled (Winger 2014, 357). This will assist the whole church in understanding the mystery of the Gospel. According to verse five, the mystery was not made known for other generations. Paul considers this a realization which was not available apart from the coming of Christ as the Messiah (Winger 2014, 359). It has especially been revealed "to His holy apostles and prophets." Winger observes that the word "now" indicates Paul is thinking not of Old Testament prophets, but of those in Paul's own time (Winger 2014, 360).
Ephesians 3:6 points out that part and parcel of the mystery revealed is that the Gentiles share in blessings with the Jews. Winger describes implications of their being "fellow heirs . . . members of a body . . . (and) partakers" of salvation (Winger 2014, 362). Verse seven notes that Paul's role is as a "servant" of the Gospel. Winger notes that the term διάκονος doesn't indicate a particular type of concern, but merely the role as someone carrying out duties for someone else (Winger 2014, 363). The work of Paul is by God's appointment, as a gift given by grace. It was given to him by God's power, which Winger notes also makes Paul able to perform his work (Winger 2014, 365).
In Ephesians 3:8, Paul refers to himself as the "least" of the holy ones. Winger notes that the term he uses literally says he is small, which is also the meaning of his name, Paulus, in Latin (Winger 2014, 365). He himself is not the focus. He is simply being obedient to Christ. His work, and his prayer for the Ephesians, in verse nine, is that the Lord would bring sight to all, particularly about this mystery of the Gospel. Winger connects this statement with Acts 26:18, where Paul was to be used to open people's eyes (Winger 2014, 367). Paul seems to have a fairly simple view of eschatology in this instance. The mystery was hidden before and is now revealed. Winger sees just two periods in Paul's conception of the history of the Gospel (Winger 2014, 368).
Ephesians 3:10 makes it clear that the spiritual forces seen as arrayed against the Ephesians (cf. 1:21) have been defeated and that God has overcome all (Winger 2014, 369). It is completed now, though chapter six emphasizes that there will be ongoing instances of strife until Christ comes again. This work is carried out "through the Church." Winger observes that Paul has just spoken of the importance of apostles and prophets. Therefore, he takes this statement to be instrumental in nature (Winger 2014, 370). God brings the Gospel of Christ by the hands of the apostles and prophets, delivering it to the world through the church. The church receives and transmits the gifts. Verse eleven again asserts that God's wisdom has not changed, but that the way it is understood has (Winger 2014, 371).
Ephesians 3:12 moves on to emphasize that we have been incorporated into Christ (Winger 2014, 372). This creates a confidence that we have access to God. Verse 13 then speaks to prayers not to lose heart. Winger notes that the person who should not lose heart is not stated. However, it is more characteristic for Paul to state a prayer for the Ephesians (you) than for himself (I) (Winger 2014, 373). Even in sufferings, Paul reminds the Ephesians that they possess God's glory (Winger 2014, 374).
From a rhetorical standpoint, Winger notes that in Ephesians 3:1-13, the revelation of God leads to a desire to thank him (Winger 2014, 375). The great prayer will come in 3:14-21. But meanwhile, verses 2-13 seem to be a digression. Winger suggests that we understand the first three chapters of Ephesians not as an extended prayer, but a cycle of "revelation-teaching-prayer-doxology" (Winger 2014, 376). Though there is a grammatical interruption at verse two, Winger does not find a digression in content. He considers the verses to be consistent with Paul's earlier statements and that they serve to close ideas Paul has opened earlier (Winger 2014, 377).
From a structural standpoint, Winger finds Ephesians 3:1-13 less clearly structured than the earlier passages. However, there is still evidence of care in design. Winger notes the signs of inclusio which define both the boundaries and the purpose of the passage. Verses 5-6, in the center of the passage, state the central idea of God's mystery now revealed. The passage also contains two main sentences, one about revelation, the other about proclamation, corresponding to the main points of Paul's argument.
Paul brackets this passage with statements about being a prisoner, in Ephesians 3:1 and 13. Winger takes his status as a prisoner to be an element which could be used against him, to suggest his message is wrong (Winger 2014, 380). Paul's statements about the reliability of the Gospel point up that, rather than being imprisoned for any other cause, it is precisely the truth of the Gospel which is the offense to his enemies. Suffering was to be understood not in terms of failure, but as a mark of being a Christian. The end goal, being a partaker of the resurrection, remained in view.
When Paul emphasizes the nature of his apostolic office in Ephesians 3:2, Winger observes that the expectation of classical rhetoric would be that an author or speaker would establish his credibility through truth claims. Further, "the office of preacher could not be separated from the message itself" (Winger 2014, 382). Testimony to the resurrection was an integral part of the message. Through Paul's message to the Ephesians, he is saying they are bound to Christ as he is (Winger 2014, 383).
The mystery of Christ, then, becomes the topic of Ephesians 3:3-7 (Winger 2014, 383). Paul alleges that in the current age the mystery has been disclosed. One rightly asks what this new content could be. Winger notes a strong parallel between the vocabulary here and in Colossians 1:26-27. In colossians the mystery is the presence of Christ in the Colossians (Winger 2014, 384). The very presence of the Colossians or the Ephesians in the body of Christ is this mystery. Winger asks whether God really didn't reveal his plan to draw Gentiles into the kingdom in the Old Testament (Winger 2014, 385). Though there are many Old Testament statements about the inclusion of the Gentiles, the prophets were lacking an understanding of how God would accomplish it. This may serve as at least a partial explanation of what Paul had in mind. A more thorough explanation may be rooted in the fact that the means is specifically Christ's death and resurrection. This was not clearly revealed until it was completed by Christ (Winger 2014, 386).
The riches of Christ, in Ephesians 3:8-12, have not only been revealed to Paul, but have been delivered to the Ephesians. They have been made partakers in Christ (Winger 2014, 387). The mystery delivered is for the gentiles. God has made them heirs of His promise.