Ephesians 3:9 - fellowship of the mystery

Steven Avery


Dr. Jeff Riddle vs. Dr. James White | Textus Receptus vs. Critical Text DEBATE | Eph 3:9
@Matthew Murphy Rose
- the main issue is not majority texts, it is the semantic range of οικονομια .

Jeff Riddle touched on this:

"Likewise, the lexicons remind us that the the noun η οικονομια also has the meaning of “stewardship”, as it is used in near context at Ephesians 3:2 where Paul speaks about the οικονομια of the grace of God which has been given to him for the Ephesians."

For more detail see Steve Rafalsky, partly quoting Thomas Holland, here:

Ecclesiastical Text — Response to James White

Michael George is putting forth a post on this question as well, looking more at the context.
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Steven Avery

Micheal George

My thoughts on the White/Riddle debate over the reading in Ephesians 3:9.
Michael George - October 4, 2020

https://app.box.com/s/9o20sx4kt6us3xanidqvtpu8quay945w (view and download)

A humble appeal for both sides to “Come now, and let us reason together….”

Regarding "the fellowship of the mystery" (Ephesians 3:9) there is no need for any other evidence other than the context and proper interpretation of scripture, precept upon precept. “Fellowship” is well defined in the context of the epistle itself as in Ephesians 3:6, "That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body...," (a fellowship), whereas in contrast, in Ephesians 3:2 "dispensation" is clearly more of a time frame. Then yet again, the context in Ephesians 1:10 reads, "That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him"

Further the mystery itself in context is defined clearly by Paul as "This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church" Ephesians 5:32 (KJV). The Jews, the Gentiles, and all men are now in 'fellowship' with Christ, "the fellowship of the mystery" revealed in God's timing; in that after Christ ascended into heaven; we have now entered into a new dispensation, the time “of the dispensation of the grace of God..." Ephesians 3:2 (KJV).

The debate over "fellowship" based on TR's κοινωνι´α as opposed to "dispensation," “administration,” or “plan” based on Maj, Byz, NA/UBS's οἰκονομι´α gets us off the train tracks of what the context of the whole of Ephesians is clearly telling us. In addition to that, where is the consistency such as “all men” (πάντας) (Eph 3:9) in the very same verse, with “all men” omitted in the NASB, even with TR, Maj, Byz, Sinaiticus, and P46 support? Where is the consistency in the science there? The #1 FIRST rule if we are to examine any portion of scripture, whether by textual means or any other means, is “precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little and there a little” (Isaiah 28:9-13). Without following God’s own guidelines for examination of the scripture, we may find ourselves drifting off into left field “doting about questions and strifes of words” (I Timothy 6:4). The scripture, if “rightly divided” (II Tim 2:15; Isa 28:9-13), in Eph 3:9 does not need any help or any other evidence as we see the consistency and the continuity in the ‘context’ of the KJV’s ‘fellowship’ reading. When using the proper formula of context and a proper interpretation of scripture, many times the critical readings defeat themselves by violating the first rule in giving a passage or a word its very own “private interpretation” by ignoring “Knowing this FIRST, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (II Peter 1:20). If we follow the FIRST rule of knowing what God said in a passage such as Ephesian 3:9, we must FIRST consult the entirely of SCRIPTURE and the readings context. After all, is not that what the debate is about, to know what God said here in Ephesians 3:9? Scripture upon Scripture in context must be PRIMARY, whereas variants or critical discussion must take a back seat as SECONDARY! Be honest, have you seen of late a textual variant discussion where the whole chapter of the discussion, or even the whole book itself was taught, preached, and expounded upon FIRST before discussing a single word out of hundreds? Where is the edification in that? We are talking about God’s Word here folks, we are missing the big picture for a ‘gnat.’ We are straining so hard and so focused about individual words that we are missing the beautiful message contained in the context. And let us not ignore the omission of “Jesus Christ” in this very same verse, also having TR AND Majority support, for without Jesus Christ there would be no ‘fellowship of the mystery.’ That is a big omission my friends, with Jesus Christ, a part of creation, and has serious doctrinal implications.

The KJV reading of ‘fellowship’ follows this FIRST rule and is consistent with the context of the epistle of Ephesians and proper interpretation of scripture. The critical reading of Ephesians 3:9 is not consistent by claiming ‘fellowship’ should be ‘dispensation,’ administration,’ ‘plan,’ or any other word (regardless of any evidence for or against) for these other words do not flow in the context. Most Pastors and Bible teachers know what I am talking about here. It seems many that are degreed and learned today have become “unlearned” themselves by allowing an unstable position in their proper interpretation of the scripture (II Peter 3:16). By “straining at a gnat” (one word in this case), the big picture and context is missed, and that is the beauty of this new ‘fellowship’ that the whole of Ephesians reveals. My thoughts on this agree with Andrew H. Trotter, Jr., Interpreting the Epistle to the Hebrews, p. 9 and “Common Exegetical Fallacies,” 01/09/2012, NT Greek Studies stating the fallacy of illegitimate totality transfer occurs when it is assumed that, “a word means everything it could mean in every place it occurs.” More exactly, “Many Greek words have a wide...semantic range. There may be numerous meanings for the same word; however, context usually tells us which is correct. This fallacy is rooted in the idea that the meaning of a word in a specific context is much broader than the context itself allows...” CONTEXT folks! Someone in this debate has stayed within the allowed context, and the other has stepped out of bounds, it is clear.

Once again, “all men” (omitted NASB) and “Jesus Christ” (omitted most versions) have both TR and majority support, yet they remain omitted showing this criticism lacks continuity and consistency, whereas the epistle of Ephesians has its very own flow and continuance! The reading for Eph 3:9 has already been resolved by its other readings within the same epistle.

That my friends is “the key of knowledge” (Luke 11:52) for those of us who want to get off the milk and dig into the meat of the Word, we must know what comes FIRST, in having a God given “knowledge….and to understand doctrine” (Isaiah 28:9-13). KJV. CONTEXT!

QUESTION FOR JW: To be consistent should not “all men” (πάντας) (Eph 3:9) in the same verse, be placed back in the NASB being it has TR, Maj, Byz, Sinaiticus, C, D, F, G, and P46 support?My question for JW was not answered by him but was answered by another FB member and he said, “No, because the critical text is heavily weighted in favor of whatever B reads. It gets like, 100 votes.” Ok, fair answer. So, let us assume these men sit at the round table to take votes on what God’s Word really means. When they do, is it too much to ask them to show a consistency when doing it? That consistency lacks everywhere in N.T. textual criticism. Here is another example among thousands. “If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant” (I Corinthians 14:38) KJV. At the round table, they took a vote and changed the wording a bit. The NIV changed a ‘man’ being “ignorant” to “if anyone ignores this” (I Corinthians 14:38 NIV), and the NAS changes a ‘man’ being “ignorant” to “if anyone does not recognize this” (I Corinthians 14:38 NAS). The inconsistency yet again shows up for P/46, clearly says IGNORANT, along with the T.R., the Majority Text and even Codex Vaticanus reads “ignorant.” Clearly there are theological presuppositions in this science and this lack of consistency is a ‘tell’ in itself.

So in conclusion, we hear JW argue Ephesians 3:9 with Dr. Riddle, White believing he has a strong case due to ‘fellowship’ having a minority reading, yet when it comes to the shorter ending of Mark, with a minority reading (2 manuscripts out of thousands), that minority reading all of a sudden has less of significance. Inconsistent! JW, along with many in the field move the rules of the science around to fit your own narratives or theological presuppositions. When I asked White (before he blocked me on his pages) about the omission of “thou shalt not bear false witness” in Romans 13:9 with Codex Sinaiticus containing this commandment, all of sudden and what do you know, he said quote ”well it’s not Byzantine in nature, there ya go.” The inconsistency in the science yet appears again, and suddenly, the majority text now has a conclusive authority with a ‘there ya go’ it is settled reply.

Even as we see many times in paleography work, as we witness some ‘stretch armstrong’ action figure maneuvers in faulty reconstruction based on guesswork and presuppositions mostly against the received text. If anyone wants examples, I have them. I do not parrot the works of others; I pioneer my own work and study. I am no scholar, but I do have multiple hundreds of hours in the study of paleography. I am no scholar, but I do know the Word of God from Genesis to Revelation with 40 years under my belt. A truly noted scholar however, Dr. Maurice Robinson, as he was on his way to the Carolinas for retirement, him and I had a lengthy discussion one on one, and he also agreed about the inconsistencies in the modern science. So please do not parrot a generic response that JW and others have taught you. Be a Berean and a pioneer and ponder these things for yourself a little while on your own. Prove all things.

My conclusion on this! It is a ‘risky business.’ If we truly fear God as scripture exhorts us, for “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” Hebrews 10:31, then we must take heed lest the ‘science’ becomes an opposing factor (I Tim 6:20) not only upon ‘precept upon precept,’ but in our own lives. My advice: Be careful in allowing the theological presuppositions of others and of those before us to give a ‘private’ interpretation of scripture. Read the book for yourself, by yourself, the entire chapter, the entire book FIRST. Then pray, then proceed. Yes, my presupposition and theological belief is most likely that of Dr. Riddle in that of divine preservation and providence within the Authorized Version. I believe if you do a ‘taste test’ so to speak, and switch versions for a month, that you will find an ‘unction’ (I John 2:20) KJV, and an anointing, that to me personally I did not have when I read any other version. I am not pointing a finger here; I am just telling you that I felt this for myself. But I also had to humble myself, and not allow pride, or my Greek professor in Bible college to influence my decision.

God bless you for reading this! May the Lord Jesus Christ guide you into all truth, for “….when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” John 16:13, and for us to discern between “the Spirit of truth, and the spirit of error” I John 4:6.

Memorize Isaiah 28:9-13 in the KJV and quote it every day for a month! Absorb its meaning in prayer with no presuppositions for a few minutes a day. Be an honest hearted Berean (Acts 17:11) and search the ‘scriptures’ (and nothing else by any man on earth) for another month, as to ‘whether these things are so.’ That is what I did in Bible college over 35 years ago as a NIV Bible student and reader, as my old KJV was 200 miles to the north on another desk. I am sure you know by now what conclusion I came to, and which Bible version now forever sits on my desk.
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Steven Avery

My discussion with MMR on Youtube
Pure Bible

Pure Bible

This is such a non-issue. It is clear that fellowship is in the semantic range, and very consistent with the Ephesians testimony. A few gentlemen have pointed this out. If this is the big complaint against the AV zzzzzz.

Matthew Murphy Rose

Matthew Murphy Rose

Hi Steven, I agree that it's not that big of a deal doctrinally and that there are definitely more important textual variants. The primary issue from my point of view is the stubborn refusal to follow the clear and nearly unanimous evidence when it's opposed to a publicly taken stance, pet theory, or favored edition/translation. It's a dishonest way of dealing with the evidence. We have only a couple of known cursive MSS that contain κοινωνία, and there is very little evidence besides this. I'll grant that there are probably a few more cursive MSS that read κοινωνία out there--but this is nothing compared to the evidence against it. So unless there's some sort of Earth moving internal considerations to evaluate, there is no reason to defend the reading. That's my take at least.

Pure Bible

@Matthew Murphy Rose - the main issue is not majority texts, it is the semantic range of οικονομια . Jeff Riddle touched on this: "Likewise, the lexicons remind us that the the noun η οικονομια also has the meaning of “stewardship”, as it is used in near context at Ephesians 3:2 where Paul speaks about the οικονομια of the grace of God which has been given to him for the Ephesians." http://www.jeffriddle.net/2019/11/wm-138-text-note-ephesians-39.html For more detail see Steve Rafalsky, partly quoting Thomas Holland, here: Ecclesiastical Text — Response to James White https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/ecclesiastical-text-%E2%80%94-response-to-james-white.87309/page-4#post-1083862 Michael George is putting forth a post on this question as well, looking more at the context.

Matthew Murphy Rose

@Pure Bible How is that the main issue? Which reading is correct--is the main issue, isn't it? I'm glad that the KJV's English translation of an incorrect reading has some overlap with the correct Greek reading, but unless one is simply trying to save face for the AV, I'm not sure why any of that is really relevant.

Pure Bible 2 days ago (edited)

@Matthew Murphy Rose - the AV reading is correct, clear and accurate and matches the Ephesians context. If you want to debate with a TR person whether they have the proper Greek text, go right ahead, to me it has no significance. Michael George paper - Oct 4, 2014 https://www.purebibleforum.com/index.php?threads/ephesians-3-9-fellowship-of-the-mystery.1517/#post-6087 My thoughts on the White/Riddle debate over the reading in Ephesians 3:9. Michael George - October 4, 2020 https://app.box.com/s/9o20sx4kt6us3xanidqvtpu8quay945w (view and download)

Matthew Murphy Rose

@Pure Bible I'm not trying to debate anyone, I'm honestly trying to understand why such a well read and intelligent man as yourself could seriously entertain such an improbability. It should be okay if the KJV has some minor errors--every ms., version, edition and translation does (although some more than others). I don't understand the hang-up here?

@Matthew Murphy Rose - there is no "error" in fellowship of the mystery. :) in Ephesians 3:9. You can claim an improbability of the Greek reading koinonia. And those who defend the Greek TR text may offer a providential preservation counterpoint. For me, fellowship of the mystery is a sensible, clear and accurate English, in context, for either Greek word.


Matthew chiding Jeffrey

Matthew Murphy Rose

Matthew Murphy Rose

Riddle: "Let's start with the external evidence"... there's not enough manuscripts, we need more! Because I don't have as many MSS as I want, I'm going to follow a reading that has almost no manuscript support backing it. You heard it right, I'm going to uphold the reading with almost no manuscript support because I don't think providence has provided me with enough to figure out which reading is authentic. I need more manuscript evidence, therefore I shall uphold the reading which has the least. Come on Dr. Riddle.

Matthew overview

Matthew Murphy Rose

Respectfully, both of these gentlemen are adhering to bankrupt methodologies. Dr. White cannot make his way safely through the apparatus furnishings of Mark 16:9-20, and Dr. Riddle is thoroughly blinded by his love for the KJV Bible when it comes to Eph. 3:9. It's time for learned men to reevaluate the current situation and tide, and perhaps give ear to the methodology of Burgon/Scrivener and others (e.g., Dr. Robinson, Pastor Snapp) who would uphold the Last 12 Verses of Mark,--as well as refuse the ultra-minority reading of κοινωνία in Eph. 3:9.