Ephesians 3

The Gospel Conveyed Through Paul

Paul's Imprisonment

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles . . . (Ephesians 3:1)

The traditional view is that Paul wrote Ephesians during his imprisonment in Rome sometime around AD 61. Philippians 1:13 indicates that he was under guard (cf. Acts 28:16). This photo provides a bird’s-eye perspective of the modern city of Rome, looking in the direction from which Paul approached the city. In Paul’s day, the population of Rome is estimated to have been one million people. Today the population of Rome is just under three million.


By revelation the mystery was made known to me, as I wrote before briefly (Ephesians 3:3).

There were several Roman “mystery” cults in Paul’s day. Such cults promised revelation of secret knowledge to initiates. One popular mystery cult was that of Eleusis, depicted here. In the 3rd century AD, the church father Tertullian (On Baptism, 5) wrote against several mystery cults, including those of Isis, Mithras, and what he referred to as the “Apollinarian and Eleusinian games.” In Ephesians, Paul explains that the Lord chose to share the mystery of the church through his apostleship.

Called to Ministry

Of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace (Ephesians 3:7).

Paul’s initial call to the ministry of the gospel was while he was on his way to Damascus in pursuit of Christians (Acts 9). His encounter with Jesus along that road is the subject of the door panel shown here. This artwork was created in 1929–1931.


In Him we have boldness (Ephesians 3:12).

“Boldness” (Gk. parrēsia) is most often related to openness and frankness in speech, although it is also used to describe courage in relation to God (e.g., 1 John 2:28; 4:17). Probably the nearest New Testament parallel is Hebrews 10:19, which uses the same word to describe boldness in approaching God. Orators were known in Paul’s day for their ability to speak boldly in public, illustrated here by a statue of an orator. This marble statue was photographed at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.


So that you, being rooted and grounded in love . . . (Ephesians 3:17)

The word “grounded” (Gk. themelioō) carries the idea of a well-built base or foundation. The ancient Greeks and Romans were well aware of the importance of a good foundation for a building. The massive stones that make up the foundation of the Temple of Jupiter at Baalbek are a good example. Some of these stones are massive, with the largest being 70 feet (21 m) long, 14 feet (4 m) high, and 10 feet (3 m) thick. The temple was begun by Julius Caesar and completed by Augustus. For perspective, note the presence of a man above the seam between the two stones, as well as a man dangling just above the ground below him. This American Colony photo was taken between 1900 and 1920.

Full Measures

That you may be filled to all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19).

The measuring table shown here, known as a mensa ponderaria, was used to provide a standard unit of measurement against which the measurement of dealers could be gauged. It could be used by wary buyers to ascertain whether or not they were getting the full measure of a product (such as grain) from a seller. Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is that they would not be shorted but would be full even to overflowing with the goodness of God.

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