Summary: The mystery revealed
June 24, 2012
Ephesians shows how all spiritual blessings are “in Christ.” It doesn’t matter if a person is Jew or Gentile because Christ has torn down the wall of separation and made the two into one, and both are being made into a temple for God.
Now we pick up in chapter three:
For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
The Greek for “dispensation” is οἰκονομία. It refers to the management of a household. Think of Joseph when he was put over all Potiphar’s house (Gen. 39:4). Paul is the manager responsible for explaining the mystery of Christ to the Gentiles.
When I think about the mystery of Christ I think about a puzzle: it’s put together one piece at a time until the picture is clear.
5Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;
Men have been gathering clues (or puzzle pieces) since the beginning, but the mystery of Christ has been revealed to Paul,
6That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
The Jews were a special people but they perceived God’s favor as partiality. They thought that because they held the pieces to the puzzle that they were exempt from wrath and that the rest of the world was excluded from grace.
But Paul says, actually Christ did away with the barrier separating Jews and Gentiles and He made me an apostle to the Gentiles. So that they should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel. We’re fellow heirs of the inheritance with the believing Jews, we’re fellow members of the body of Christ with the believing Jews, and we’re fellow partakers of the promise of salvation in Christ with the believing Jews.
In Romans Paul says there’s no difference between the self-righteous Jew and the pagan Gentile; they’re equally damned. In Ephesians Paul says there’s no difference between the believing Jew and the believing Gentile; we’re equally saved!
7Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 8Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given,
The murderous Saul didn’t deserve salvation, and he certainly didn’t deserve a ministry. But God’s gift is grace by His own effectual power.
that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
“Unsearchable” means something that’s beyond comprehension. It was only by revelation that Paul knew.
9And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God,
There’s some differences in the Greek texts, but I think the main idea is that, with God, it’s always been the same plan. God was never the Jewish God; He didn’t change sides halfway through the game. The plan in the Old Testament is in fellowship (not at odds) with the plan in the New Testament. People get hung up because it’s the same plan, but it’s been more hidden at certain times than others. But it can’t change because it’s “from the beginning of the world” and it’s the purpose of creation:
who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10To the intent
So, he’s about to tell us God’s intention in creation:
that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
I’ve often heard that God created man so that He can have fellowship. Otherwise He’s just sort of floating around space with nothing to do, so He made us to keep Himself busy. But this verse tells us all things were created so that everything created will know manifold wisdom of God.
Manifold is πολυποίκιλος and it means something that’s variegated. It’s used to describe something with lots of colors. God’s wisdom is manifold, and this is revealed by the church to the powers for God’s glory.
Let me make it simple: creation exists so God can be glorified by all His ways of greatness.
11According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:
God had an eternal plan in Christ, and He acted on it.
12In whom we have boldness
That is, freedom to speak,