Summary: The Mystery of The Body, the Church, is revealed to Paul and through him to us in all it’s splendor and purpose.
THE SUPREME MYSTERY – THE BODY OF CHRIST
ACT II: The Mystery of The Body Unveiled
1. THE BODY REVEALED (Eph. 3:1-13)
MYSTERY. Everybody loves a mystery, don’t they? In most contexts today, to speak of a mystery is to speak of “something completely unknown and perhaps even unknowable.” However, in the First Century Greco-Roman world, the word mysterion has a distinctly and significantly different connotation. “Mystery” in the ancient world referred to “something which is known, but only by an elite few – the initiates to whom it is secretly revealed.” This is what defines the “mystery religions” - any religion which believes only the worthy, tested and proven initiates may receive the special knowledge. Today, groups such as the Freemasons, Mormons and Scientology represent this.
OR, it could refer to “something which had previously been unknown, but is now revealed.” This is the sense with which the apostle Paul repeatedly uses this term – 4 times in this morning’s passage alone. It is something that was a divine secret, but is now revealed. Something that was unknown before Christ but now made known through divine revelation. My friends, these are the most important and delicious of all mysteries!!! The kind that transcends not only human reasoning, but even the human imagination. Something, even hidden from all other creation – including the spiritual beings (angels). Yet, through His humble and surrendered servant, Paul and God’s inspired written Word, He has graciously revealed such things to us! Wouldn’t you like to know? For in our passage this morning is revealed “The Supreme Mystery.”
THE WORD: READ EPHESIANS 3:1-13
Paul as Steward of Mystery (vv. 1-5)
A.) To Be A Steward Is To Be A Servant v.1
What a profound statement!
1. “This cause” is the unity in Christ achieved through His sacrifice and resurrection, as
described in the previous chapter.
2. Note Paul’s identification as a prisoner of Christ Jesus! He writes this letter from a Roman
prison, under Roman guard and awaiting trial before the Roman officials at the behest of
the Jewish leaders and their accusation against Paul. And yet, he refers to himself not as a
prisoner of the Romans or Jewish Officials, but of Christ Jesus. WHY?
3. Note also his emphasis on the reason for his imprisonment: for you Gentiles. A big reason
for his arrest and accusation by the Jewish Leaders directly emanated from his ministry to the
Gentiles - defiling the temple by bringing a Gentile with him beyond the restricting wall
(Acts 21:17-36, Ro. 15:14-32; Phil. 1:12-18).
Q: Can we rightly refer to ourselves as Christ’s “prisoners,” willing to endure any trial, any
injustice, any persecution for the sake of the unsaved around us?
B.) To Be A Servant Is To Be Entrusted By Grace vv. 2-5
In these verses, Paul again goes back to the revelation of “the mystery.”
Paul, on the verge of launching into a prayer for the saints, instead pauses in order to further explain the reasoning behind his own passion, conviction and sacrifices.
This digression, then, is also for the sake of the Gentiles, according to the stewardship (administration/dispensation) or responsibility that Paul was entrusted with by Jesus.
* Christ is Himself this “mystery” in the sense that He embodies it, has revealed, and is the agent
of it becoming a present reality.
* Paul’s ’revelation’ began with his conversion experience while on the way to persecute and execute followers of Jesus in Damascus. It came in Jesus’ blinding words, “Saul, why are you persecuting ME?” Suddenly, Paul understood that to persecute the church IS to persecute Christ. That the church is indeed the ’Body of Christ.” That, on the Day of Pentecost, God had birthed a something completely new and unexpected.
Position of the Redeemed (vv. 6-7)
* The emphasis of the mystery here is upon the inclusion of the Gentiles. NOT that God would
bless or even save the Gentiles, for that had long been revealed (Gen. 12:1-3; Ro. 1:2; 15:8-12;
RATHER, what was new and completely unexpected, was that God’s blessing of the Gentiles
would be so great as to involve not only their salvation, but also their complete inclusion -
that is, that in Christ God has completely obliterated any and all lines of separation between
Jews and Gentiles. ALL who are truly in Christ are incorporated together as a new, intertwined
community of God’s chosen people without discrimination or separation! And all of this is
completely God’s act of grace!
* Keep in mind, before this a Gentile come approach the God of Israel, but ONLY as a converted
and circumcised Jew. God has now revealed that this is no longer necessary. (and all the men
said, Praise the Lord!). By His sacrificial death and resurrection, Christ has obliterated this