Summary: The 1) Prisoner (Eph. 3:1–4), 2) Plan (Eph. 3:5–6), 3) Preaching (Eph. 3:7–9), 4) Purpose (Eph. 3:10–11), and 5) Privileges (Eph. 3:12) of divine mystery
A fighter I know made a comment this week. He said:" This is just a matter of personal opinion but I don't think almighty God meant his blessings to be paid for. However you chose to worship is your business, I suppose. I like working towards my goal of being able to give back to my community and loved ones. In that regard maybe im paying for my blessings with time which can be argued as the most valuable currency. That's where my faith lies. My faith lies within". The "payment" statement that He made seemed to be one of redemption so I quoted:
1 TIM. 2:5-6 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
He responded with the question: "How would you interpret that? Because I see a few different meanings." So I began to explain how Christ was God, what a mediator was, how he functioned, how he gave Himself, how it was a rasonsom and why it was at the proper time. But, after I did this, I realized that he was just looking for a basic description. I broke my own rule: "When someone asks you the time, don't tell them how to build a bavarian cooko clock". There are times we need to explain what we have before a full explaination of how we got it is necessary.
In Ephesians 3, Paul begins a prayer for believers to understand their resources as one in Christ and then decides to reemphasize and expand some of the truths he has already mentioned. He does not actually get into the prayer until verse 14, where he repeats the phrase “For this reason” in order to pick up the thought originally introduced in verse 1. He seems to have felt that the Ephesians were not ready to hear his prayer in their behalf until they better understood—and were therefore better able to apply—the truths he wanted to pray about. And it seemed essential for Paul to affirm his authority for teaching such a new and far–reaching truth as the oneness of Jew and Gentile in Christ, which he does by saying that God Himself gave him the truth and the commission to proclaim it (vv. 2–7).
There are times when we need to be specific but simple. Although drinking from a fire hose can be initially refreshing, the power and force of the water exerted by the hose can knock one off their feet. For us to come to grasps of a great divine mystery we need to go back, step by step and examine the elements outlined in the mystery and their progressive outworking. Just jumping into the present or future fullness does not help us or those who we may desire to explain the truth to.
In Ephesians 3:1–13 the apostle Paul leads us to focus on five aspects of this divine mystery. Its: 1) Prisoner (Ephesians 3:1–4), 2) Plan (Ephesians 3:5–6), 3) Preaching (Ephesians 3:7–9), 4) Purpose (Ephesians 3:10–11), and its 5) Privileges (Ephesians 3:12–13).
1) The Prisoner of the Mystery (Ephesians 3:1–4)
Ephesians 3:1-4 [3:1]For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles-- assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, (ESV)
For this reason introduces the cause of Paul’s prayer (which really begins in v. 14) and refers back to the group of unifying truths Paul has just discussed in chapter 2—including the truths that the person in Christ becomes new (2:15); that all believers are in one body (2:16); that the Gentiles, who were once far away, now become near when they believe (2:17); that all believers are equally citizens of God’s kingdom and members of His family (2:19); and that all believers are being built into God’s temple and dwelling (2:21).
The first truth Paul mentions is about his own situation and God–given ministry. Paul wrote at least thirteen of its 27 books. He is also the dominant human instrument of the Spirit in the book of Acts. And more than any other apostle he delineated the mysteries of the gospel, the truths hidden even to the most faithful believers of former ages but made known to the church of Jesus Christ.
In the opening of the letter Paul gives his credentials as Christ’s apostle (1:1), but here he speaks of himself as the prisoner of Christ Jesus. He had been a prisoner for some five years, two years in Caesarea and the rest in Rome. He had been arrested on false charges made by Jews from the province of Asia who were visiting in Jerusalem. They had accused him of taking the Gentile Trophimus into forbidden areas of the Temple, though he had not done so. Paul had faced hearings before the Sanhedrin, before the Roman governor Felix, before Felix’s successor, Festus, and even before King Agrippa. Had Paul not appealed to Caesar while defending himself before Festus, Agrippa would have released him. From Caesarea the apostle was taken to Rome, where he was allowed to stay in private quarters with a soldier to guard him (see Acts 21:27—28:16).