EPHESIANS 3: A MYSTERY AND A REQUEST
For this reason, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles– 2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. 7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Four times in twelve verses the Apostle Paul mentions the word “mystery” (musth,rion / musterion). He must want to talk about a mystery. The mystery was revealed a little at a time in the Old Testament through prophets and God’s dealings with the Nations, but was finally fully revealed when God called Saul of Tarsus to full-time service.
The mystery answers the question: We know Israel was God’s chosen people, but what about the rest of us?
God through Christ instituted the Church to reach any person with the Gospel. Man. Woman. Jew. Gentile. Tall. Short. Well, maybe not short people. Jesus is for all people and is not for Israel only. The promise to Abraham in Genesis 12 is for Israel, but more importantly is for all people as we fully take in all of God’s plan post-Resurrection.
Questions to Think On:
What would the world be like if Jesus Christ really did only come and die for Jewish people?
How are the words ‘heirs,’ ‘members,’ and ‘sharers,’ similar and how do they explain each other?
Why does Paul think he is ‘least of all God’s people’… dude was an apostle of Christ?
What is the job of the Church in these verses?
Can you list the ‘unsearchable riches of Christ?’
13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory. 14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge– that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Paul does not want the Ephesians to be discouraged, but rather requests that they put emotional energy and theological thinking into being encouraged in Christ. The reality of being a believer in Jesus Christ is that we have a well of encouragement from which to draw and drink.
We can be encouraged that the Holy Spirit will strengthen us in our inner being.
We can be encouraged that Christ Himself dwells in our hearts.
We can be encouraged that we are rooted in a love that creates an established foundation for life.
We can be encouraged that we are loved by God vastly.
We can be encouraged that God does more than we ask or imagine.
We can be encouraged that God the Father always is at work in us through His Spirit.
Questions to Think On:
Is there anything in these verses that are antidotes for discouragement during sufferings?
Because I like Michael Heiser, who is God’s family in Heaven that Paul is referring to?
What constitutes the ‘inner being’ of a person?
What does it look like practically to be rooted in love?
… at church?
… with an abusive spouse?
… when you hate someone?
… at work?
… when you are lonely?
… when you discover you are selfish?
… during the Christmas season?