3:12 confident access. Every person who comes to Christ in faith can come before God at any time, not in self-confidence but in Christ-confidence. See notes on Heb 4:15, 16.
3:12. In whom [Jesus Christ] we have boldness and access. Believers can boldly approach God through Jesus Christ (Heb 4:16), for they have access to God (Heb 7:25). They can approach God with confidence through faith in Christ.
3:12 As a result of Christ’s work and our union with Him, we now have the unspeakable privilege of entering into God’s presence at any time, in full confidence of being heard, and without any fear of being scolded (Jas 1:5). Our boldness is the respectful attitude and absence of fear we have as children addressing their Father. Our access is our liberty to speak to God in prayer. Our confidence is the assurance of a welcome, a hearing, and a wise and loving answer. And it is all through faith in Him, that is, our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
3:12. God’s plan of salvation purposed before the world and executed in the cross clears the path to God. Through Christ a person can enter God’s presence with freedom and confidence. The cross has provided salvation which cleanses us of sin, forgives us, makes us holy, and thus enables us to enter the presence of the Holy one.
12. in whom we have the courage of confident access through faith in him. Literally, we would have to translate: “in whom we have the courage and access in confidence.” But if this be hendiadys we obtain the resultant meaning: courage of confident access. The three important words here are courage, access, and confidence. The word used for courage, namely, parrēsía, is very picturesque. It is derived from two Greek words, meaning all and telling; hence, telling all. The word occurs with great frequency in the New Testament, and in more than one resultant meaning. Light is shed upon its connotation here by such a passage as Phil. 1:20, “by my unfailing courage Christ will be magnified in my person,” and by Heb. 4:16, “Let us therefore draw near with courage (“boldness,” A.V., A.R.V.) to the throne of grace.” The word access has already been explained. See on 2:18. It has been defined as freedom of approach to the Father, in the confidence that we, Jew and Gentile, have found favor with him. The third word, confidence (same meaning in 2 Cor. 1:15, but ground of confidence in Phil. 3:4), strengthens the idea already present in access.
Since, then, Christ Jesus is ours and we are his, bought with his blood, indwelt by his Spirit, we know that we have free and unrestricted access to the Father. Cf. 2:18. We can and should approach him without restraint, telling him all our troubles, asking him to help us in all our needs. We know that he will welcome us most heartily. Particularly, we should ask him to enable us so to live that the fruits of his grace may be exhibited in us, and the wisdom of God reflected in us, so that the angels may see us as the mirror of God’s virtues. Such courage of confident access is possible only “through faith in him,” namely, in “Christ Jesus our Lord,” the very One “in whom” we were chosen from eternity. God’s eternal purpose which cannot fail and the redemption accomplished by Christ Jesus our Lord make such fearless access possible.
Ver. 12.—In whom we have our boldness and access. Παῤῥησία of literally means “boldness” or “freedom of speech,” but is used here in a more ample sense for want of restraint, ease of feeling, comfortable self-possession, in our access to God. Contrast with Adam hiding himself among the trees of the garden, and the lost calling on the mountains to fall on them, and the rocks to cover them. The “we” in this verse includes both Jews and Gentiles. The “access,” or introduction (see ch. 2:18), is like that of the high priest into the holy of holies—we have boldness to enter into the holiest of all (Heb. 10:19). In confidence through the faith of him. The confidence of being welcomed and accepted when we go into God’s presence springs from our faith in him. We believe in him as the Propitiation, as our Peace, as the Reconciler, and we go before God with confidence. The clause, “through faith in him,” influences the whole verse. And, as before, we have at the beginning of the verse, “in whom”—an expression denoting generally our union with Christ, and at the end, “through the faith of him”—a specification of the instrument by which that union is formed and by which it operates.
12. Translate, “our boldness and our access (Eph 2:18) in confidence through our faith in Him.” Alford quotes as an instance, Ro 8:38, &c. “the access” (Greek) implies the formal introduction into the presence of a monarch.
3:12 / Lest the readers conclude that the God who worked out this eternal plan is somehow removed from the everyday affairs of mankind, the apostle turns to a practical concern and reminds them that their union with Christ grants them the privilege of communicating with God (in him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence). The words in Greek are “boldness” (parrēsia), “access” (prosagōgē), and confidence (pepoithēsis). Parrēsia is used in the nt in the context of speaking, such as boldness in proclaiming the gospel (Acts 4:31; Eph. 6:20; Phil. 1:20) and confidence in approaching God (Heb. 4:16; 10:19).
Christians have that boldness in approaching God because their faith and union with Christ have given them confidence. In Christ, all barriers have been removed that would keep the believer from approaching God openly and confidently. Christ has revealed the Father as one who has forgiven his children and who loves them. B. F. Westcott aptly comments that “the right of address and the right of access are coupled together as parts of the right of personal communion with God” (p. 49).
12 It is through Christ, the readers have already been assured, that Jewish and Gentile believers alike have their access “in one Spirit to the Father” (Eph. 2:18). This assurance is now repeated. Through faith in Christ they are united with him, and in him they therefore enjoy “freedom of access with confidence.” As his place in the presence of God is unchallengable, so is theirs, because they are “in him.”
The word translated “freedom” (parrhēsia) is used later, in Eph. 6:19, of the freedom of utterance which Paul desires for himself in the proclamation of the gospel—especially, perhaps, at his forthcoming hearing before the imperial tribunal. The attempt has been made to find the same kind of reference here, but the context indicates freedom of another kind—the freedom which is twice expressed by means of the same word in the letter to the Hebrews, where Christians are encouraged to draw near with “confidence” (parrhēsia) to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16) and to enter the heavenly sanctuary with “confidence” (parrhēsia) by the blood of Jesus (Heb. 10:19).
12 Though the connection to v. 11 is not obvious, perhaps Paul here explains the consequences of this divine purpose. Not merely expressing a future promise, the verb echomen (lit., “have”; GK 2400) occurs in the present tense and stipulates believers’ present, ongoing possession of two benefits—parrēsia (NIV, “freedom”; GK 4244) and prosagōgē (NIV, “approach”; GK 4643)—with confidence. The first outcome, parrēsia, has several possible senses: frank speech; openness to the public; or boldness, confidence, courage. (This third option is most likely here and in 6:19; cf. BDAG, 781.) Christians now possess a bold sense of courage in their relationship with God. They no longer cower in fear, nor are they any longer demoralized by their shameful pasts. Second, prosagōgē signifies “access.” (Recall Paul’s use of this word in 2:18.) Along with many commentators, we probably ought to see these two nouns—“boldness” and “access”—governed as they are by one article, as a hendiadys, meaning “bold access” or “access to God in boldness” (NRSV). “Access” has a prepositional phrase modifying it—“with confidence.” This reduces to “confident access” to God (the word for “confidence,” pepoithēsei, GK 4301, is a synonym of parrēsia). All told, Paul seems to say that in Christ believers possess the ability to enter God’s presence in a bold and confident way (NIV, “with freedom and confidence”). Not even hostile powers, as formidable as they are, can deny believers access to God.
How has this remarkable state of affairs come about? Paul answers with two prepositional phrases. In Greek the verse begins with “in him” and ends with “through faith [in or of] him.” First, as we’ve come to expect in Ephesians, only by incorporation into Christ do people possess this confident access. Faith is the second key (recall 1:13; 2:8). But it is literally the “faith of him.” The genitival case “of him” puts us in a familiar dilemma. If an objective genitive, then believers have confident access to God through their faith in Christ (the option adopted by the NIV, NRSV, and the majority of interpreters). By placing their trust in Christ as the object of their faith, they have obtained salvation in Christ. Alternatively, if the use is possessive or subjective (“his faithfulness”), then believers enjoy this access to God through Christ’s faithfulness to his calling and to his task to redeem. The KJV retains the unmarked original Greek—“the faith of him”—opting for neither alternative. Paul often uses faith in Ephesians with no object stated (2:8; 3:17; 6:16, 23), where believers clearly place faith or trust in God or Christ. Christ is often the object of faith in Ephesians (though admittedly Paul expresses it more clearly using the prepositional phrase “faith in the Lord Jesus” in 1:15; cf. Col 1:4). I slightly prefer the first option: we have access through our faith in Christ, though the alternative, Christ’s faithfulness, also has much to commend.
12. Through whom we have boldness. The honour of reconciling the Father to the whole world must be given to Christ. From the effects of this grace its excellence is demonstrated; for faith, which is possessed by Gentiles in common with Jews, admits them into the presence of God. When the words, through Christ and by the faith of him, are used by Paul, in connection with the name of God, there is always an implied contrast, which shuts up every other approach,—which excludes every other method of obtaining Divine fellowship. Most important and valuable instruction is here conveyed. The true nature and power of faith, and the confidence which is necessary for calling upon God, are beautifully expressed. That the consequences of faith, and the duties which it performs, should be the subject of much controversy between us and the Papists, is not surprising. They do not properly understand the meaning of the word Faith, which they might learn from this passage, if they were not blinded by prejudice.
First, Paul denominates it the faith of Christ; by which he intimates, that everything which faith ought to contemplate is exhibited to us in Christ. Hence it follows, that an empty and confused knowledge of Christ must not be mistaken for Faith, but that knowledge which is directed to Christ, in order to seek God in Christ; and this can only be done when the power and offices of Christ are understood. Faith produces confidence, which again, in its turn, produces boldness. There are three stages in our progress. First, we believe the promises of God; next, by relying on them, we obtain that confidence, which is accompanied by holiness and peace of mind; and, last of all, comes boldness, which enables us to banish fear, and to come with firmness and steadiness into the presence of God.
To separate faith from confidence would be an attempt to take away heat and light from the sun. I acknowledge, indeed, that, in proportion to the measure of faith, confidence is small in some and greater in others; but faith will never be found unaccompanied by these effects or fruits. A trembling, hesitating, doubting conscience, will always be a sure evidence of unbelief; but a firm, steady faith, will prove to be invincible against the gates of hell. To trust in Christ as Mediator, and to entertain a firm conviction of our heavenly Father’s love,—to venture boldly to promise to ourselves eternal life, and not to tremble at death or hell,—is, to use a common phrase, a holy presumption.
Observe the expression, access with confidence. Wicked men seek rest in forgetfulness of God, and are never at ease but when they remove to the greatest possible distance from God. His own children differ from them in this respect, that they “have peace with God,” (Rom. 5:1,) and approach to him with cheerfulness and delight. We infer, likewise, from this passage, that, in order to call on God in a proper manner, confidence is necessary, and thus becomes the key that opens to us the gate of heaven. Those who doubt and hesitate will never be heard. “Let him ask in faith,” says James, “nothing wavering: for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.” (James 1:6, 7.) The sophists of the Sorbonne, when they enjoin men to hesitate, know not what it is to call upon God.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Eph 3:12). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1928). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 348). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
 Bruce, F. F. (1984). The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (p. 322). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
 Klein, W. W. (2006). Ephesians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 92–93). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul to the Galatians and Ephesians (pp. 256–258). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.