Saturday, July 30, 2016

Making known the manifold wisdom of God: Ephesians 3 Commentary

Ephesians 3:1-21 NKJV  For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles;  (2)  if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you,  (3)  how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already,  (4)  by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ),  (5)  which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: Paul has said that the mystery of Christ was withheld from ages past. However, he was given the privilege of being the apostle to the Gentiles. He was given revelation that would shed light on the mystery and bring it out into the open. So what is the mystery? He answers the question in the next verse.  (6)  that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel. Essentially this is the mystery. The Gentiles will have an inheritance in the promises to Abraham. Should that be a surprise? Not really because God had promised Abraham that in him, that is, in Abraham’s seed, ALL of the world would be blessed. It was not solely for the sake of the Jewish people. It was not solely for the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. All the nations/Gentiles would be blessed as well. So you can say to me, well it wasn’t a mystery was it? Well yes, the mystery was that it would be Abraham’s SEED singular, and not seeds plural. Jesus of Nazareth, the Word incarnate, would be the single representative which would be the Israel of God. Furthermore, it is through this one SEED, that both the Jew and the Gentile would find fulfillment of the promises of God. The blessings of Abraham, the promises to Abraham would be realized in Jesus the Messiah. He would be the first fruit. He would be their righteousness Jehovah Tsidkenu… the Lord our righteousness (Jer 23:6 & 33:16.)

(7)  of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.  (8)  To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,  (9)  and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; Ephesians chapter one and John chapter one tell us a unified, singular tale. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1:1;) and just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,” (Ephesians 1:4 NKJV.)  It is the same message. It was God’s intention before creation to redeem humanity through the SEED of Abraham. The blessings of Abraham are the unsearchable riches of Christ. Paul was given revelation to bring about this understanding of this mystery. That makes Paul’s revelation very important in helping one understand the scripture that came before him. Paul alone is explaining the purpose for the Jew/Gentile distinction that was in ages past, and likewise, explaining how the middle wall of partition is now torn asunder in Jesus.

(10)  to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,  (11)  according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,  God intended to make known his wisdom by the church preaching the gospel of Christ Jesus. Not just to humanity but also to the spiritual principalities and powers. We are told in Hebrews that believers are given information that angels desire to look into or know about. This is the mighty charge to the church, called-out ones. May I say bluntly that the church as a whole has failed miserably at this charge being so concerned with being teachers of the law that they have missed the opportunity to share the pure gospel with other humans, let alone the principalities and powers of the heavenly realm. The gospel is the most neglected message in evangelical Christianity. God wants the principalities and powers of the angelic realm to wonder in amazement at His grace and they cannot because it is not properly demonstrated.

(12)  in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. Jesus Christ is the reason for our boldness and access to the Father. In Hebrews we are told to go boldly to the throne of grace to find grace and mercy in our time of need. Confidence in the Fathers love; confidence in imputed righteousness; confidence in our inclusion into the promises of Abraham is the substance of our faith. Though we have not seen it, we are confident that it is ours; we are confident that God accepts us in the beloved. It is the confidence that makes us acceptable. Confidence is our faith. Confidence is the act that demonstrates that we have accepted our reconciliation to the Father.

(13)  Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.  (14)  For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  (15)  from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. Paul asks them not to lose heart at his tribulations but they should also not lose heart at their own. They will be given glory for believing the gospel message of Paul in spite of his tribulations. Now, Paul is dropping to his knees to pray for these saints. He reminds them of the fact that the earth and the fullness thereof is the Lords. Here is Paul’s prayer: (16)  that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,  (17)  that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  (18)  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height;  (19)  to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. The way to be filled with the fullness of God is to be able to have strength within your spirit (inner man) that is confidence in the promises and declarations of God in Christ. Further, the way to have Christ dwell in your heart is to believe the gospel. Being rooted and grounded in love is to be rooted and grounded in God’s love for you. It is not our love, but God’s love for us that is the grounding force. Comprehending the width, length, depth and height of Christ’s love is difficult to do but through the Holy Spirit, one can begin to grasp the love of God in Christ. This love surpasses our knowledge but keeping confident in this love, twenty-four seven, will supernaturally allow it to grow ever increasingly in our inner-man. We are partakers of the divine nature when we are basking confidently in this love.

(20)  Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,  (21)  to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. What a wonderful benediction. God is truly able to do above all we can ask or think, and He will do it through the power that is at work in us…. Think about that! There is power that we do not often tap. We allow it to go untapped largely because we find it difficult to properly believe the gospel mystery. You must continue to tell yourself that you are the righteousness of God; that the Lord Jesus is your righteousness.

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