Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ephesians 3: The Revelation of God's Plan

Following Ephesians 1 and 2, chapter 3 is another powerhouse where Paul reveals the mystery and revelation of God's plan!!

Ephesians 3 (NRSV)

Paul’s Ministry to the Gentiles

This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for[a] Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. In former generations this mystery[b] was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see[c] what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in[d] God who created all things; 10 so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.[e] 13 I pray therefore that you[f] may not lose heart over my sufferings for you; they are your glory.

Prayer for the Readers

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,[g] 15 from whom every family[h] in heaven and on earth takes its name. 16 I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18 I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

There is so much to write about in this chapter, its difficult to be brief and pithy, and keep this from becoming a sermon, as opposed to a blog entry.  Its just so good!!  I'll try to keep it to 3 main observations.
  1. Through God's Grace, the mystery has been revealed to Paul.  What is this mystery?  That the salvation has come to the Gentiles!  That there is now a radical equality and unity between Jews and Gentiles.  Its stressed 3 times in verse 6 (remember 3s: Peter denied Jesus 3 times, Jesus restored Peter 3 times, etc...).  In verse 6 Paul declares that the Gentiles are now 1) fellow heirs, 2) members of the same body, and 3) sharers of the promise in Christ through the Gospel.  We, the Gentiles, the wild branch, have been grafted into the tree of God's family and now are a permanent part of God's family!!
  2. That Paul in his ultimate humility, stating that he is the least of all the saints, declares that the curse of Gen 3:15, the separation between man and God, the enmity between man's seed and God, is no more!!  Paul writes in  11 and 12 that the eternal purpose has been carried out and that now we have access to God in boldness and confidence through our faith in Jesus!!
  3. Starting at verse 14, Paul ends with what is considered by some to be one of the most powerful apostolic prayers in the New Testament.  Paul, through the Holy Spirit calls to have the "inner man" strengthened, to bring our Spirit into accordance with His will.  That we may be rooted to comprehend the depths and length's of God's love which surpasses our understanding.  And lets look for a moment at the word "rooted" and "grounded" verse 17.  The Greek word used as rooted  is errizomenoi.  and the Greek word used as grounded is tehthemeliomenoi.  Rooted is a horticultural term, and grounded is an architectural term.  In this instance, a believer that is rooted, is like a solid tree, planted, with deep roots.  A believer then that is grounded, is like a building with a strong foundation; this believer is deep, not superficial.  What is needed for a rooted and grounded foundation is, of course, love.  A simply wonderdful verse by Paul, and a promise with for us as belivers.
Chapter 3 ends with a beautiful doxology.  Great chapter!!  What are your thoughts?

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