September 10th Ephesians 3 (The Mystery of God)
The Mystery of Christ – The Church
1: For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2: If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to youward: 3: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4: Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5: Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6: That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 7: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 8: Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9: And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11: According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: 12: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. 13: Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
Paul continues his thinking in the previous passage. He had been saying how God is bringing gentiles who were far off from God into the blessings of his Grace. And now he says, It is for this cause that l Paul am the Prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles. So what is Paul saying? Isn’t Paul in prison just because he is a Christian? Not quite. Paul is in prison, under Roman protection, because the Jews tried to murder him because of his stand on the cross and resurrection of Christ. The cross was the stumbling block for the Jews. They could not accept that Jesus was their Messiah let alone that they had murdered him. And the evidential proof of the fact that Jesus was who he said he was that God raised him from the dead. Therefore the Jews denied the resurrection of Christ. And that is why the Apostles in the early Acts emphasised the resurrection when preaching to the Jews. Paul was therefore a prisoner for the truth that Christ was crucified for our sins and that God had raised him from the dead and that the Gospel that Israel refused was being preached to the Gentiles who would receive it. The believers at Ephesus were living proof of Paul’s ministry. Then Paul goes on to tell them the truth of the dispensation of the Grace of God, which was given to Paul to give to them. (Those who deny dispensationalism but somehow come to terms with this scripture) Firstly, it was says Paul, a revelation from God to him – a mystery which had previously been hidden from men’s knowledge but now has recently been revealed to his Apostles and Prophets. So what is the essence of the mystery? It is that Gentiles are to become heirs together with the Jews and that they come together into the Church – in one body. The Gospel which was promised is a blessing to all who believe. It is difficult for us to understand now that this was something completely new. Just as it is difficult to imagine a world without aeroplanes or electric light, so there was once a time when Gods blessing was centred only on one small nation – Israel. Paul says, It is to this message that l am made a servant of the Gospel, a ministry that was given to my by the Grace of God in which God worked in my heart by his almighty power. It came to me says Paul, who is less than the least of all the saints. We might not think of Paul like this, but he thought of himself like that - that’s humility. The greatest revelation ever to come to a man, has the effect not of filling him with pride but of humbling him. God’s Grace was given that he might preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery which was hidden in God. And this mystery is revealed so that men and angels might know the amazing variety of the wisdom of God in the church. This was Gods eternal purpose which he brought about by Christ Jesus our Lord. We all Gentiles and Jews have access to the very blessing of God by faith in Christ. And so, says Paul, do not loose heart at my troubles for you because they are your glory.
- What does the word ‘mystery’ mean in the Bible and what is the mystery that Paul is talking about?
- Why was Paul a prisoner?
- What does Paul mean by ‘the dispensation of the grace of God?’