Ephesians 3 - Mystery Of Christ

INTRODUCTION: Paul reinforced the fact that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. He encouraged the believers at Ephesus to carefully consider what he has already written as he continued to explain the mystery revealed in Christ.

NOTE: All Bible passages are taken from the 1901 American Standard Version.


A - GENTILES ARE FELLOW PARTAKERS OF THE PROMISE IN CHRIST

Ephesians 3 "1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus in behalf of you Gentiles,2 if so be that ye have heard of the dispensation of that grace of God which was given me to you-ward; 3 how that by revelation was made known unto me the mystery, as I wrote before in few words, 4 whereby, when ye read, ye can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ; 5 which in other generations was not made known unto the sons of men, as it hath now been revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; 6 [to wit], that the Gentiles are fellow-heirs, and fellow-members of the body, and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, 7 whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of that grace of God which was given me according to the working of his power."

COMMENTS: Paul said that he would consider himself a prisoner in the behalf of the Gentiles if they had heard that he had administered to them the grace of God. This was the message he was to give out and the effectiveness of that message made it worthwhile to become a prisoner. The mystery of the gospel in Christ was given to him by revelation as he had written thus far, and if they read it carefully they could be aware of his understanding of that mystery. In other generations this was not revealed to men, as it had now been revealed to God's holy apostles and prophets through the Spirit that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Paul said he was made a minister of this message as one of the apostles through the gift of the grace of God which was given to him in accord with the working of God's power. All of this then was not by the design of man.

Paul had earlier closed his letter to the believers at Rome encouraging them that they were firmly established by the eternal God as he referred to the preaching about Jesus Christ as being that mystery that had been kept silent from eternity past, but now made known by the appearing of Christ in fulfillment of things the prophets had written. Romans 16 "25 Now to him that is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which hath been kept in silence through times eternal, 26 but now is manifested, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, is made known unto all the nations unto obedience of faith: 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever. Amen."


B - PREACHING THE UNSEARCHABLE RICHES OF CHRIST

Ephesians 3 "8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, was this grace given, to preach unto the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9 and to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery which for ages hath been hid in God who created all things; 10 to the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly [places] might be made known through 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 in confidence through our faith in him. 13 Wherefore I ask that ye may not faint at my tribulations for you, which are your glory."

COMMENTS: Paul referred to himself as being less than the least of all saints (all those separated unto God through faith in Christ) to emphasize how much God's grace had worked within him, and that gave the credit not to him, but to God. he had written in a similar manner in one of his earlier letters to show that anything he accomplished for God was through the grace of God to whom was due all glory. 1 Corinthians 15 "9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not found vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Whether then [it be] I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed." The preaching of the apostles was the same message, with Paul especially administering to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. Paul wanted all men to see the explanation of the mystery which for ages had been hidden in God who created all things. It has been brought to light with the intent that the many kinds of wisdom of God might be made known through the body of believers unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places. Paul said this was an eternal plan prepared in Christ Jesus who is our Lord. Through faith in Christ believers have boldness and access to God in confidence. Therefore Paul asked them not to be discouraged by his tribulations for preaching to Gentiles, for this is how they had received glory in Christ.

The apostle Peter covered some of the same points as Paul, including that those who receive the gospel of Christ do not see Christ in the flesh as did the apostles, but in believing they have indescribable joy and glory in the salvation of their souls. The prophets wrote about the coming of grace in the Savior prior to his appearing as they were guided by the Spirit of Christ in them, even though they did not know the time of fulfillment. The sufferings of Christ and the glory that would follow has now been announced unto those who will hear through those who had preach the gospel by the Holy Spirit sent forth from heaven, and even angels desire to look into these things. 1 Peter 1 "8 whom not having seen ye love; on whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9 receiving the end of your faith, [even] the salvation of [your] souls. 10 Concerning which salvation the prophets sought and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that [should come] unto you: 11 searching what [time] or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did point unto, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that should follow them. 12 To whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto you, did they minister these things, which now have been announced unto you through them that preached the gospel unto you by the Holy Spirit sent forth from heaven; which things angels desire to look into."


C - BE FILLED UNTO ALL THE FULNESS OF GOD

Ephesians 3 "14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God."

COMMENTS: Paul wanted the Ephesian believers to know that he was praying to God the Father that they would not become discouraged and lose the boldness and access in confidence that they have through their belief in Christ since they were now among every family in heaven and earth called by his name. Paul's request in prayer was that God would grant according to the riches of his glory, that they be strengthened with power through God's Spirit in the inward man that Christ would dwell in their hearts through faith. The desired result was that by being rooted and grounded in love, they may be strong to apprehend with all the saints the grand dimensions of their status; and to know the love of Christ, even though it surpasses full comprehension, that they may be filled unto all the fullness of God. In the opening chapter of this letter Paul had already told the saints at Ephesus that he had not stopped giving thanks in prayer for the faith and love he had heard they were showing to one another. He also was requesting that God would give them a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. From the beginning of this letter Paul wanted them to have full confidence in the hope of the inheritance of the saints because Christ had been raised from the dead and now sits in heaven far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.


D - GLORY TO GOD UNTO ALL GENERATIONS FOREVER

Ephesians 3"20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 unto him [be] the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever. Amen."

COMMENTS: As Paul reached this point in his thoughts as he wrote to the believers at Ephesus, his own spirit was lifted to directly praise the Lord as the one who is able to do not just what we might ask of him or even think about, but so much more and in an amazing abundance through the power that he has given by his Spirit within us. As we agree with Paul we should understand his unrestrained enthusiasm and joy in saying that all generations shall see the glory of God in the church and in Christ Jesus forever; and therefore we will joyfully add our amen!

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

LORD, I thank you for The mystery of the gospel in Christ that has been revealed to me through your chosen apostles and prophets in the scriptures written by them as guided by your Holy Spirit. This had not been made known to previous generations over many centuries until you Father sent the Son into the world to completely open the way for all people to have access to salvation by grace through faith. I praise you, LORD that I am now among so many others who have become heirs to your promises without being physically a descendent of Abraham. Lord Jesus, I know I cannot fully comprehend all that you accomplished in your life, death, and resurrection especially to the intent that now unto the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places might be made known through the church the manifold wisdom of God. Help me, LORD, to fully grasp the boldness and access in confidence that I have to you through my faith in Christ. I want to follow Paul's prayer to ask that you grant to me according to the riches of your glory, to be strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit in the inward man. As Christ dwells in my heart making me rooted and grounded in love, may that bring me to a more complete surrender of my own will to that I might apprehend all the fullness of God by the love of Christ. Through the power of the Holy Spirit that works within every believer, may all glory be yours alone, LORD, through the church in Christ Jesus forever! Amen.

Published 5 May 2015