In the previous blog we looked at the outline of all of Chapter 3. Now we break it down into smaller “bites”.
1). GOD CHOSE PAUL TO MINISTER THE MESSAGE OF GOD’S GRACE TO THE GENTILES. Verses 1-2
3:1 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles-2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you. (Paul was a messenger of God’s grace to them.)
2). GOD REVEALED THE “MYSTERY OF CHRIST” TO PAUL. Verses 3-5. (See Note 1 below)
i). It Was Revealed To Paul. 3:3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 3:4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ,
ii). It Was Once Not Known. 3:5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations
iii). It Has Been Revealed By The Spirit. as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.
3). THE “MYSTERY”. THE UNITY BETWEEN BELIEVERS FROM JEWISH AND GENTILE BACKGOUNDS. V6
The Message of the “Mystery”. 3:6 This “mystery” is that the Gentiles are
i). fellow heirs, (Believers from the Jews and non-Jews share in the same inheritance “in Christ”)
ii). members of the same body. (Not two or more groups of believers but one organism “in Christ”)
iii). partakers of the promise “in Christ Jesus”. (All the promises of God find their fulfilment in Him. 2Cor 1:20 For all the promises of God find their Yes “in him”. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory). It would appear that the primary meaning for the “promise” here, is the gift of the Holy Spirit. (See Note 2 below)
How Did The Gentiles Come To Belong To Christ? They responded in faith to the gospel message. Paul adds, “through the gospel”. Paul had already declared that in Ephesians 1:13. (See Note 3 below)
- “Mystery” is from the Greek word, mustērion. In New Testament use it means an “open” secret. It can be known only by revelation. It is open only to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. God had revealed it to Paul. Now God had commissioned him to reveal it to the Gentiles.
- Paul’s argument in Galatians 3 leading up to Gal 3:14, seems to indicate that the promise given to Abraham (the blessing of Abraham) was fulfilled in the gift of the Holy Spirit being given to all of God’s people, Gal 3:14 in order that “in Christ Jesus” the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
As Peter explained on the Day of Pentecost about the outpouring of the Spirit, Acts 2:33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. …… Act 2:36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” His listeners were convicted by this and asked what they had to do. He replied, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” His hearers could receive the promise, the gift of the Spirit by believing his message about Christ, leading to their repentance and baptism into the faith Peter was preaching.
3. Ephesians 1:13 “ ‘In him’ you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed “in him”, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.”
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
1). What do you think Paul meant by being a steward of God’s grace to the Ephesians?
2). If the “mystery of Christ” can only be known by revelation, what does that mean for our attempts to share the gospel message with other people?
2). In verse 6 Paul says that the Gentiles are “fellow heirs”. Of what are they heirs, do you think? Does that apply to us as believers today?
3). Do you find it hard to recognise that believers in other churches or in other countries belong to the same body of Christ? How might we work for a greater recognition of our unity in Christ?
Blog No.037. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Monday 22nd August 2011