Ephesians 3:1-13 | Revealing God’s Wisdom
1For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—
- Paul was in prison because of his missionary efforts towards the Gentiles – because of the very gospel he was proclaiming
2Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.
- God’s grace was given to Paul, for others, just as all of the gifts of grace are given in our lives for the sake of the body, not ourselves.
- The mystery was made known by revelation and no other way. Paul did not and could not learn it or discover it for himself. It is not some philosophical idea that we can enlighten ourselves with, but only something revealed as God chooses to reveal it.
4In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.
- The Spirit has now revealed the mystery of Christ to God’s apostles and prophets – the foundation which the church is built on as we read in Ephesians 2:20
- The apostles and the prophets were the ‘founders’ or ‘firstfruits’ of the church
- So God is choosing now to reveal his mystery, where beforehand he had concealed it from everyone. The mystery of Christ is something that God had kept hidden for generations in order to maximise his glory.
6This 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.
- The mystery is that God is doing the work of re-uniting humanity with itself and Himself. The mystery is that God is flinging open the doors of salvation to the whole world, a salvation which had been foreshadowed in his dealings with the Jewish people.
7I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.
- Paul is a servant of the gospel, stewarding what has been given to him on behalf of others. i.e. passing it from one to another and making it known
- Note that it is only by God’s grace and power that Paul is who he is. He is a chosen instrument in the hands of God.
8Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, 9and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.
- Paul counts himself as less than the least of all God’s people – our role within the Kingdom of God is based on nothing we have done or did not do, but through the grace and mercy of Jesus. The fact that Paul sees himself so lowly reveals his great humility, but also reveals the great power of God that must be working in his life.
- ‘administration/dispensation of this mystery’ – that which was previously hidden in God, he is now making known and dispensing it throughout the world through the preaching of the gospel. This is God’s big reveal, the premiere of his plan to redeem all of creation to himself.
10His 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, 11according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Through the redemption of the church, God is displaying his manifold wisdom to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. Angels that long to look into his salvation plan (1 Peter 1:12) are glimpsing the manifold wisdom of God as he unveils his plan and purpose to redeem creation to himself and once more unite heaven and earth. As the rulers in the heavenly realms watch the church being prepared through the gospel, they sit back and marvel “what a wise plan, what a wise God!”
- In the beginning, heaven and earth were joined together, but since the fall they have been separated by sin. The good news to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places (e.g. angels) is that they will receive earth back again with the church. The two will become one again.
12In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
- Because God has flung open the doors of salvation to the Gentile world and welcomes them, Paul says we may approach him with freedom and confidence (as we are no longer foreigners and strangers).
- The route of salvation is the same for all though, ‘in him and through faith in him (Jesus), we may approach God. Paul includes himself in this because it is through the same route which both Jew and Gentile are saved.
- Paul starts and finishes this section by referencing his imprisonment and suffering, but this section helps put it in perspective. Paul has been chosen to communicate and dispense the good news to the Gentiles so they might find salvation in God. This will mean suffering for Paul but glory for the Gentiles, so they should not need to be discouraged.
The church reveals the wisdom of God in the gospel to the heavenly realms, as he has had now unveiled this gospel mystery which was kept hidden for ages past.