“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”
The Gracious Revelation Of His Mystery: Ephesians 3:1-13
For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which 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; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.
In this section of Scripture we will be looking at God’s grace being shown to us in the form of a “mystery”. What does the word mystery mean in the context of this study? The Greek word translated “mystery” literally means “to shut the mouth”, in other words “to remain unrevealed”. We will see this mystery will be revealed to God’s people while yet remaining unrevealed to the lost world.
What is this mystery being talked about? It is the inclusion of the Gentiles as recipients of the gracious salvation of the Lord. It is the Gentiles being put on the same spiritual footing as the Jew, receiving God’s gift of repentance and faith, His forgiveness, His indwelling Spirit, His worship and His eternal inheritance, among many other gifts of grace. It involves the Gentiles being included into the institutions of the Lord (His family, His nation, and His local church).
Our study of the “mystery of Christ” will teach us two different aspects of God’s gracious intervention on our behalf:
1. We will see that, the Gentiles inclusion in the Lord’s work of salvation is an act of God’s grace,
2. but also revealing this mystery to God’s people is another aspect of this display of divine grace.
A very basic outline of this section of Scripture:
I. The revelation of this mystery to Paul – 1-3a
II. The revelation of this mystery to the Ephesians (and us) – 3b-6
III. The calling of Paul to minister this mystery to others – 7-11
IV. The enabling of Paul to minister this mystery in the midst of persecutions – 12-13
In our text today, Paul finally reveals the “mystery of Christ!” …
(Eph 3:6) That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
What is this mystery that is hidden from the world, but now clearly revealed to God’s people? It has a three-fold aspect:
That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs,
1. That the Gentiles have access, by adoption, into the family of God making them heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:16-18)
Based upon the death of Christ, all who are adopted into God’s family become heirs of the Lord. This inheritance includes the receipt of many wonderful gracious blessings of the Lord throughout eternity (Revelation 21:-22:).
and of the same body,
2. That the Gentiles have access by water baptism into the body of Christ, which is the local assembly. These Gentile assemblies are the same type of assemblies as their Jewish counterparts …
“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also [is] Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)
“And hath put all [things] under his feet, and gave him [to be] the head over all [things] to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” (Ephesians 1:22-23)
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28)
Based upon the death of Christ on behalf all members of His local assemblies, all who are baptized into God’s churches become a part of His body and, as such, receive care, honor and other spiritual benefits from all members of that body (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
3. That the Gentiles have access by citizenship into the spiritual nation of God (the Israel of God). This citizenship allows the Gentiles to become a party in the eternal promise (covenant) God had made with Abraham…
“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:13-14)
Based upon the death of Christ, Gentiles can share in the wonderful promises that were given to Abraham so many years ago. Which include the promise of eternal blessings that will be enjoyed in the promised land of the Heavenly (New) Jerusalem (Rev 21:1-7)
This three-fold aspect of the Gentile’s acceptance by God is brought into clear view in Galatians 3:26-29 ….
1. The family of God (vs 26)
2. The local assembly (vs 27)
3. The Israel of God (vs 29)
“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye [be] Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:26-29)
What a wonderful blessing for each one of us… to be initiated into the “mystery” of the acceptance of the Gentiles into three institutions of God (family, nation and church).
It is knowledge of this mystery, and its application to our lives, that will bring upon us the blessings of peace and mercy.
May we all apply this truth to our lives and share the Lord and His work with Jew and Gentile alike, accepting them with open arms as our spiritual brothers/sisters, fellow-citizens of Israel and fellow-members of His assemblies…
“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace [be] on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.” (Galatians 6:14-16)
May we all get a clearer picture of our Lord and Savior, and the great grace He has shown to us. Let us be always watchful to keep His great acts of grace on our behalf in the center of our attention… In doing so, may we be motivated to LOVE Him more, APPRECIATE Him more and SERVE Him more!
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