Chapter 3

Gentiles should be heirs together, a body together, and partakers together” Together is mentioned three times.

Then three times over in this section we read of the “mystery.” That is explained in verse 5. Something not made known, but revealed now. The great mystery, Christ and the Church. God is putting His saints together. After the flood, God dealt with individuals, then families, then nations. Now God is taking people of all sorts, ages, races, uniting them to the Head up there, and by the Holy Ghost uniting them down here. The subject of Romans is the Gospel; in the end of Romans the Holy Ghost gives a hint that God has something more to disclose (chapter 16:25-26). God gives a hint that the Holy Spirit would bring out what is revealed here (verses 3, 4). The formation of the mystical body of which Christ is the Head (Rom. 15:8-12). God had largely revealed that He was going to save Gentiles, but here it means Christ and the Church, —Christ the Head, we the members, all knit together in one. The same life, same Spirit, same standing, same love of the Father, same home, same everything. A body, and that body called the Church (chap. 5:30), ultimately the Bride. (Rev. 21)

Verse 3.—A distinct revelation. It is God’s will that we should help one another, live for one another, in preparation for the time when the Bride shall be manifested. God is at work during all these centuries of sorrow, fashioning His Bride for Jesus to present to Himself on the resurrection morn. God is pursuing His purpose silently, slowly, all through this painful night, but it will be seen all beautiful at last.

Verses 7, 8.—“The unsearchable riches of Christ,” in God through the worthiness of Christ, being able to lift up sinners and make them one with His beloved Son. God raised up Paul, and to him was given to bring out the doctrine of the Church. We see our beautiful place. We are to think of the Head. He thinks of the body.

The greatness of this work of God abases Paul, and makes him speak of himself in terms of self-abasement. It makes him feel his own littleness, that God should use him to make this mystery known. “Unsearchable riches of Christ” still refers to this wonderful display of it, that God should be able to fashion a body suitable and fit for the Head in heaven. It must be through the exceeding value of the preciousness of Christ.

Verses 9, 10.—“Hid in God.” Reserved for the time, till after His Son had come and been rejected, on purpose to tell out the infinite unutterable worth of His beloved Son. Every member of the Church displays the love of God and the work of Christ. All the patience exhibited, the tender, loving dealing of our heavenly Father to each member, goes to display it. “The manifold wisdom of God.” (1 Cor. 1:27-31.) The Wisdom of God is displayed in three ways-righteousness, sanctification and redemption of the body. Here there is something more added—“the manifold wisdom,” fold within fold; the more you understand these things, the more you see them. These things ought to awe our spirits. When Paul thought of the wondrous love of Christ he bowed his knees. The very angels learn something of the manifold wisdom of God. Not fallen angels here, as in chapter 6, but holy angels. “Power” means authority: (1 Cor. 11:19). The hair of a woman should be long, in token that she is under subjection to her husband: so the Church is under subjection to Christ. Angels are learning how God can take lost sinners and make them His own authority in His own house. Angels are to learn God’s excellencies in His kindness to us.

Verse 11.—How wonderful is His eternal purpose! The Holy Ghost teaches what it is, and our share in it— our own position in the Church of God. It is a grand thing to be a member of the Church of God. Let us wait God’s time, and be content till Jesus comes.

Verse 14.—It is a great thing to have the heart open in reading Scriptures like this. “That Christ may dwell in your hearts” There are two great prayers in Ephesians, chap. 1 and here. The first is more for the mind, the second for the heart, “To know the love of Christ; that the love of Christ may so overpower the soul, that you may be on your faces before God.

The theme is the love of Christ. What a theme that is. Why is it put in here? In preparation for chap, 5, about the Church being the Bride of Christ. Every bridegroom should love his bride. If the marriage is not for love, it is not a holy, healthy, happy marriage. Here we are sure it was for love, specially on the part of the Bridegroom. We have been spoken of as sons of God, a building, a body: what can be more? A Bride. In all marriages love ought to precede marriage, though it may increase after; only with Christ He cannot love more. Hold tight that the Church is the Bride of Christ, the highest feature of the love of Christ. The love of Christ is being conveyed in love-messages to the soul by the Holy Ghost. In chap. 1 the prayer is addressed to the “God of our Lord Jesus Christ: here to “the Father,” who will join the hands in time, and pronounce them one.

Verse 15.—“Every family.” If we want that love to be our portion, we must give up everything that indisposes us for the enjoyment of that love.

“The riches of His power.” The great display of the power of God is “glory.” God is going to do this by the “power of His glory.” The Spirit works by strengthening our faith; when we believe, to make us believe more. “Kept by the power of God.” “The love of God is poured out.” As love becomes more real, Christ is more at home as it were.

Verse 17.—“That Christ may dwell.” Faith puts out feelers like a plant in all directions, and takes hold of the soil. What a beautiful soil is the love of Christ! The love of Christ is past, present and future. Past: is not all the truth, “Who loved me.” Present: there is the love of Christ to-day as our High Priest, Intercessor, behind a heart of love that leads Him to do all things. His whole heart set upon it, His whole soul in the work. Future: the love of the Bridegroom. “Christ loved the Church:” love before union. What bridegroom loved his bride as Christ the Church? Oh, it is delightful to be loved. Every man likes to be loved, however cold he may be. “To Him who loves us” (Rev. 1:4). “Having loved His own “(John 13:1). Every time there is a good thought in the heart by the Holy Ghost, it is the love of Christ. Every time we are kept from doing something wrong, it is the love of Christ. When He has got us to Himself He will be satisfied. He has just got what He wanted.

“Rooted and grounded in love.” Your experience “of Christ’s love the Holy Ghost compares to a little tiny feeler of a plant. There are piles and piles of Christ’s love that we never have enjoyed. We may know more in the head, but not enjoy it and live on it in the heart. It does not speak very highly of us: “Rooted and grounded.” So in the Epistle of John,— all are called “little children” (1 John 2:12) fathers and all.

Verse 18.—“May be able to comprehend”—to grasp. To hold it. It is a thing for the heart to be exercised upon. Nothing in Him contrary to the new nature. The more we know of Him, the more are we gladdened and joyous.

Verse 19.—“To all the fulness of God.” God goes on. He wants us to grow in “the knowledge of Him.” May we chew the cud, and see to it that our foot is divided,—that as our heads are filled, our hearts may be exercised.

What a mercy these are the very desires of our hearts, the very things our God wants to give us. His love, not our love. “Rooted” denotes the love getting down. “Grounded” refers to the foundation, and on that build the superstructure,—it looks at the love getting up. What a delightful thing to think the love of Christ passes my knowledge. It is pleasant to be loved, more to be loved a good deal. Here is One whose love “passes knowledge.” One passage says, “We shall see Him as He is.” Another, we shall “know as we are known,” a third “when that which is perfect is come.” This passage says, “To know the love of Christ,” etc. If the love of Christ is infinite, we must be infinite to know it.

Verse 20.—Not can ask or think, but do ask or think. We ought to ask more.

Verse 21.—The Lord gets His praise specially from the Church.

God would have us be occupied with this love. By nature men care for the esteem of their fellow men (chap. 4:1, 2). What does it matter whether we are despised or honoured by men when there is that love of Christ? He cuts you from things here. He takes away the rush-lights to give you the sun. Let us study the love of Christ as the Holy Ghost reveals it in the Word.

It is a great relief to the soul. If you can’t grasp it, God can do it; He will discover it to us. He is able. “Now unto him, who is able.” Oh, this power of God exerted to enable us to grasp this love of Christ. God is intent upon your knowing He loves you very much indeed. What food for the soul! That is a nice little prayer “Stay me with flagons.” (Song of Solomon 2:3.) “Oh, I want so to know Thy love. Lord Jesus, give me draughts of it. Comfort me with apples.” I want to devour it. Don’t let us indulge ourselves in anything contrary to it, for His Spirit is easily grieved. Nothing hinders like giving way to the flesh. Do we covet to know the love of Christ? The Bible should send us to our knees, and prayer should drive us to the Bible.

“According to the power that worketh in us.” “Kept by the power of God.” Guarding, shielding us from extreme foes. Here in us to occupy us with Christ, God is evidently at work to fill you up in Christ. He wants us to praise Him.

Verse 21.—“Unto Him be glory.” “Throughout all the generations of ages of ages.” God is going to get praise from the Church for ever. “This people have I formed for Myself, that they should shew forth My praise.”