INTRODUCTION: As we survey this chapter, we will see that the Apostle Paul equates the church to a mystery.
I. Scripture Reading
Ephesians 3 J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
God has made me minister to you gentiles
1 It is in this great cause that I, Paul, have become Christ’s prisoner for you Gentiles.
2-6 For you must have heard how God gave me grace to become your minister, and how he allowed me to understand his secret by giving me a direct Revelation. (What I have written briefly of this above will explain to you my knowledge of the mystery of Christ.) This secret was hidden to past generations of mankind, but it has now, by the spirit, been made plain to God’s consecrated messengers and prophets. It is simply this: that the Gentiles, who were previously excluded from God’s agreements, are to be equal heirs with his chosen people, equal members and equal partners in God’s promise given by Christ through the Gospel.
7-13 And I was made a minister of that Gospel by the grace he gave me, and by the power with which he equipped me. Yes, to me, less than the least of all Christians, has God given this grace, to enable me to proclaim to the Gentiles the incalculable riches of Christ, and to make plain to all men the meaning of that secret which he who created everything in Christ has kept hidden from the creation until now. The purpose is that all the angelic powers should now see the complex wisdom of God’s plan being worked out through the Church, in conformity to that timeless purpose which he centred in Jesus, our Lord. It is in this same Jesus, because we have faith in him, that we dare, even with confidence, to approach God. In view of these tremendous issues, I beg you not to lose heart because I am now suffering for my part in bringing you the Gospel. Indeed, you should be honoured.
I pray that you may know God’s power in practice
14-19 When I think of the greatness of this great plan I fall on my knees before God the Father (from whom all fatherhood, earthly or heavenly, derives its name), and I pray that out of the glorious richness of his resources he will enable you to know the strength of the spirit’s inner re-inforcement—that Christ may actually live in your hearts by your faith. And I pray that you, firmly fixed in love yourselves, may be able to grasp (with all Christians) how wide and deep and long and high is the love of Christ—and to know for yourselves that love so far beyond our comprehension. May you be filled though all your being with God himself!
20-21 Now to him who by his power within us is able to do far more than we ever dare to ask or imagine—to him be glory in the Church through Jesus Christ for ever and ever, amen!
A. In the first thirteen verses of this chapter, Paul is explaining a special mystery.
1. He describes the recipient of the mystery, being himself.
a. Paul describes his mistreatment. Even though he was not guilty of any crime, he was imprisoned (vs 1a, 13).
b. Paul describes his mission.
(1) He is to preach God’s Word to the Gentiles (vs 1b, 4).
(2) He is to explain the divine secret to all people (vs 9).
c. In meekness, Paul looks upon himself as being the least deserving of all believers in Christ (vs 7-8).
2. Paul explains the time of the mystery.
a. He explains that the mystery was concealed in the scriptures of the Old Testament (vs 5a).
b. He explains that the mystery has now been revealed by the teachings of the Apostles and Prophets (vs 5b). Consider that the last Old Testament prophet was John the Baptist (Luke 7:28). In the next chapter we will see that God has spiritually gifted prophets for the time of the New Testament. Just as prophets were necessary to proclaim God’s Word during the time which proclaimed the life and ministry of Jesus, that same necessity was required to spread the Word of God prior to His written Word in the New Testament era (4:11).
3. Paul explains the nature of the mystery.
a. Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children (6a).
b. Both believing Jews and Gentiles are now joined to the body of Christ (vs 6b).
c. Both believing Jews and Gentiles enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus (6c).
4. Paul explains the reasons for the mystery.
a. So that God’s wisdom will be exhibited to the angels (vs 10a).
b. So that God’s wisdom will be experienced by the church (vs 10b-12).
B. In the remaining eight verses of this chapter, Paul offers a threefold prayer for the Ephesian believers. Notice the work of the Holy Trinity.
1. He prays that the Spirit will strengthen their inner beings (vs 14-16).
2. He prays that Christ might be more and more at home in their hearts (vs 17).
3. He prays that they might be able to grasp the full dimension of God’s love (vs 18-21).
III. Emphatic Thoughts Of Paul.
A. That he was appointed by God to be the apostle of the Gentiles (vs 1-13).
B. Of his devout and affectionate prayer to God for the Gentiles (vs 1-14).
C. That he was a prisoner for the testimony of Jesus (vs 1-6).
D. That he was made a minister by God (spiritually ordained), to tell of the unsearchable riches of Christ (the riches that can not be traced):
(saving riches, sanctifying riches, relational riches, practical riches, eternal riches). Christ always enriches life. He never subtracts from life. He always enriches life with untrackable riches (vs 7-12).
E. That He desires them not to be discouraged because of his tribulations (vs 13).
F. That they might be filled with all of the fullness of God (vs 14-19).
IV. Keys To Chapter 3.
A. Verse: 12, The Living Bible.
“Now we can come fearlessly right into God’s presence, assured of his glad welcome when we come with Christ and trust in him.”
B. Key Phrase: vs 4. NASB, “my insight into the mystery of Christ.”
C. Key Event: A revealed mystery.
D. Key Thought: Paul never tires of calling himself a servant.
E. Key Explanation:which surpasses knowledge (vs 19).
Paul is not saying that it is impossible for believers to understand the love of Christ, but that it is so profound that nobody fully understand it.
V. What Is Theology?
The word theology comes from two Greek words, theos (God) and logos (word). From them we can see that theology is the study of God which, of course, includes his attributes. God is the single supreme being in all the universe. He has such attributes as omniscience (all-knowing, 1 John 3:20), omnipresence (existing everywhere, Psalm 139:7-12), and omnipotence (He accomplishes whatever He desires, Jer. 32:17, 27). He is eternal (Psalm 90:2), holy (Isaiah 6:3), merciful (Psalm 67:1), and gracious (1 Pet. 2:3). All these things we discover about God from the Bible. Therefore, theology is very important because in it we can discover who and what God is and what He desires for us (1 Cor. 1:9).
VI. Worship And Praise.
Consider the Presence of God in our lives. Consider the worshipful attitude that can be obtained as we listen to the music of worship and praise that is led by Terry Mac Almon. It is amazing to know that the song was recorded during a worship conference that took place in the moral cess pool of the world, The Netherlands.
We Glorify The Lamb
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