The Mystery of Christ Truth, Judgment and Eternity Ephesians 3:1-13
In Review of Chapter 2 • Our condition without Christ vv1-3 • Dead in sins v1 • Following the world and satan v2 • Living for the flesh, we were objects of wrath v3 • Our position now we are in Christ vv4-10 • God made us alive in Christ by grace vv4-5 • God raised us up with Christ in the heavenlies v6 • In coming ages He will show His incomparable riches v7 • Saved by grace not by works vv8-9 • We are God’s workmanship created for good works v10
In Review of Chapter 2 • The Gentile Condition without Christ vv11-12 • Uncircumcised (Gentile to the promises) v11 • Separate from Christ v12 • Excluded from citizenship in Israel v12 • Foreigners to the covenant promise v12 • Without hope and without God v12 • The Gentile Condition through Christ vv13-18 • Been brought near through Christ’s blood v13 • Christ is now our peace in this world v14 • Destroyed the dividing wall of hostility v14 • He abolished the law with His flesh v15 • In Christ one new man was made out of Jews and Gentiles v15
In Review of Chapter 2 • The Gentile Condition through Christ (cont) • We were reconciled to God through the cross v16 • His peace came to both Jews and Gentiles v17 • Through Christ we all have access to God by one Spirit v18 • The Gentile Condition in Christ now vv19-22 • We are fellow citizens with God’s people v19 • Members of God’s household v19 • A holy temple built on Apostles, prophets and Christ v20 • Joined together to become a temple v21 • Built together to become a dwelling place for God v22
Overview of Chapter 3:1-13 • Mystery of Christ – Paul’s Ministry Explained vv1-5 • Paul the prisoner of Christ v1 • Paul’s administration of this mystery v2 • Mystery made know by revelation (chapter 1-2) v3-4 • Mystery revealed by Spirit to Apostles and Prophets v5 • The Mystery of Christ Revealed vv6 • Gentiles are heirs together with Israel v6 • Members together of one body v6 • Sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus v6
Overview of Chapter 3:1-13 • Paul’s Ministry Role vv7-9 • Servant by the Power of God v7 • Grace to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ v8 • To make this mystery plain which has been hidden v9 • God’s Plan for the Church vv10-13 • The manifold Wisdom of God to be made known v10 • Church to accomplish this according to the eternal purpose which God accomplished in Christ v11 • Approach God with freedom in Christ v12 • Not to be discouraged because of Paul’s sufferings v13
Prisoner of Christ • Ephesians 3:1 “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles —” • Throughout the New Testament believers are considered by many different relationships with Christ; Disciples, BrothersandSisters, Friends. But we are also known as servants, slaves and now Paul is a prisoner of Christ. • Each of these relationships considerations helps us to adopt a different attitude towards our Lord. • Brothers and Sisters in Christ speaks of being family. • Whereas a prisoner speaks of being a prisoner in service.
Grace to Preach • Ephesians 3:2-3 “Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.” • Paul was confident in his reputation among all the churches as one who has made known a mystery. • This mystery which he had already written briefly is referring to the Chapters 1 and 2 of this epistle, esp. 2:11-13 (the Gentile condition without Christ) and 2:19-22 (The Gentile inclusion with God’s people).
Revealed by the Spirit • Ephesians 3:4-5 “In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 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.” • Paul now appeals to the Ephesians to recognise his special anointing from God to reveal this mystery by pointing them to the earlier part of the epistle. • This mystery revealed in the apostles Paul, Peter, John, James and Jude’s epistles was revealed by the Spirit: this indicates that Paul believed in the God inspired writing of these books.
The Mystery Revealed • Ephesians 3:6 “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.” • Through Christ and the cross, the Gentiles are included into the promises given to Israel. • Heirs together with Israel [Legally entitled to the same promises] • Members together of one body [We are many parts but one] • Sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus [Sharing in and partaking of all the blessings of God]
Paul the Servant • Ephesians 3:7 ”I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.” • In verse 1 Paul refers to himself as a prisoner of Christ Jesus, now he refers to himself as a servant of the Gospel. • A servant serves. • This should be the pervading attitude of the church. • John 12:26 “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.”
Christ the Servant • Luke 22:27 “For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” • This in no way is saying Christ is not Lord and King. • Gill’s Exposition of the Bible writes, “Christ took upon him the form of a servant, and instead of being ministered unto, ministered to others; and had very lately, but two days before, gird himself, and took a basin and a towel, and washed and wiped the feet of his disciples: now our Lord, by his own example throughout the whole of his conduct among them, as well as by such a single action, would dissuade from their ambitious views of superiority over each other, and learn of him who was meek and lowly, and by love serve one another.”
Paul Humbled • Ephesians 3:8-9 “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, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.” • Paul here expresses his deep sense of the guilt from his past life as Saul, the great persecutor of the Church, and so humbles himself before the Church. • From this humble estate he then recognises the grace that was given to him to preach to the Gentiles a hidden mystery, and to make it plain and simple.
Destiny of the Church • Ephesians 3:10-11 “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, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” • Paul now turns to the destiny of the Church. • The role of the Church is to reveal the manifold wisdom of God to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. • When we attempt to tell someone about Christ, it is not flesh and blood we come against, but against spiritual forces which control their thinking. • So in that, to reach men with the Gospel, we must break the holds over unbelievers as we tell them the Gospel, we do this by internal prayer as we minister as well as intercessory prayer.
Approaching God • Ephesians 3:12 “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” • Barnes writes “The sense is, that we may now come confidently and boldly to the throne of grace for mercy in the name of the Redeemer. Boldness is not rashness; and faith is not presumption; but we may come without hesitating, and with an assurance that our prayers will be heard.” • In Christ we can now confidently come before the Father in the name of Jesus and petition Him by faith.
Suffering and Glory • Ephesians 3:13 “I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.” • This passage being placed here has always seemed out of place to me, however Barnes helps us to grasp why he wrote it here. • The connection here is this. Paul was then a prisoner at Rome. He had been made such in consequence of his efforts to diffuse the Christian religion among the Gentiles. His zeal in this cause, and the opinions which he held on this subject, had roused the wrath of the Jews, and led to all the calamities which he was now suffering. Of that the Ephesians, he supposes, were aware. It was natural that they should be distressed at his sufferings, for all his privations were endured on their account. But here he tells them not to be troubled and disheartened. He was indeed suffering; but he was reconciled to it, and they should be also, since it was promoting their welfare.
Conclusion • Paul reveals what the essence and purpose of his ministry was, that he was called to reveal a mystery to the Gentiles. • The mystery he reveals is that through the Gospel of Christ the Gentiles and Jews are heirs together, members together of Christ and sharers together in the promises of God. • He then reveals that the purpose for the Church (Jews and Gentiles as one) was to make the Manifold wisdom of God known in the Heavenly realms where Paul tells us that satan reigns Ephesians 2:2. • He then tells us to boldly come before God, in the full knowledge of who we are in Him.