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Scripture reading – Ephesians 3
As we continue our study of Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, in the first verse of chapter 3, we find Paul’s train of thought interrupted by a chapter break. Ephesians 3:1 begins, “For this cause I Paul” (3:1a). Of course, it behooves us to ask, “What cause?” The answer was found in the closing verses of Ephesians 2 where Paul wrote concerning believers from Gentile backgrounds: “ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God…Ye are builded together” (2:19, 22).
In Christ, Jewish and Gentile believers are one church, “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets [the Scriptures], Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (2:20).
Paul’s Calling: His Stewardship of the Gospel (3:1-6)
The apostle was not a prisoner because of wrongdoing, but because he preached Christ and redemption to the Gentiles who would become believers like those living in Ephesus (3:1). The Lord had entrusted to him the “dispensation of the grace of God,” and Paul was a steward of God’s plan of redemption for Jews and Gentiles (3:2-3). This was “the mystery of Christ” (3:4), for it had not been revealed to the saints of the Old Testament (3:4-5a), how the Gentiles would “be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise [of salvation], in Christ by the gospel” (3:6; 1 Corinthians 12:13).
Paul’s Ministry (3:7-9)
Remembering from whence he was saved, and called to be an apostle, Paul declared he was “made a minister” (3:7). What, then, were the qualifications of his call to ministry? He was called to preach the Gospel to the Jews and Gentiles, not because of any oratory gifts he possessed, but because he was favored by “the gift of the grace of God…[and] the effectual working of His power” (3:7). Unlike many proud ministers of our day, Paul, said of himself, I “am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (3:8).
Though he had experienced rejection and persecution, Paul was compelled to declare the Gospel to “all men…the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ” (3:9). What a powerful verse! The Gospel Paul preached was not a new doctrine. Though it was “the mystery” not revealed to the Old Testament saints, nevertheless, the Gospel was hidden in the heart of God “from the beginning of the world” who was Creator of all things (3:9).
The Mystery and Purpose (3:10-13)
The salvation of Jews and Gentiles was a mystery to the angels, who are “the principalities and powers in heavenly places” (3:10), but the church displayed not only the wisdom of God, but revealed His “eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (3:11).
What is God’s eternal purpose? That He might be glorified, as we have boldness and confidence to approach God because of our faith in Jesus Christ (3:12). Knowing some believers in Ephesus might be discouraged because he was in prison, Paul urged them to “faint not” (3:13). Don’t lose heart, but look upon all he suffered as an opportunity for them to see God’s glory (3:13).
Paul Prayed Six Things Would Come from His Imprisonment and Prayers (3:14-19)
Assuring the congregation of his prayers (3:14-15), Paul prayed the Ephesians believers would be strengthened by the Holy Spirit (3:16), and Christ would rule and reign in their hearts (3:17a). He prayed believers would be rooted and grounded in God’s love (3:17b), understand redemption, and comprehend spiritual truths (3:18). The apostle prayed believers would know the “love of Christ,” and comprehend its “breadth, and length, and depth, and height” (3:18-19). Lastly, he longed for believers to “be filled with all the fulness of God,” and emptied of self, and controlled by God’s Spirit (3:19).
Closing thoughts – Our study concludes with a benediction that is passionate, powerful, and needs no explanation (3:20-21).
Ephesians 3:20-21 – 20Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
What is God’s purpose? That you might glorify Him in all things!
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