Ephesians Chapter 3 Part 14
“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…” (Ephesians 3:1-5)
V. 1- Have you noticed what’s different about this chapter? It begins in the usual way with Paul stating his position in Christ. What is not the same thing is, that Paul started out with the intent to pray for the believers, but is interrupted after the opening verse. This verse is hyphenated, indicating there was more to Paul’s thought. It implies, “But wait a minute, let me say this first.” It occurred to him that he needed to tell the people the mysteries of Christ, before continuing on with his own position in Him and the prayer for them.
Paul began Ephesians 3 by declaring he was a prisoner of Christ Jesus. But what type of prisoner? He was a spiritual, willing prisoner. He could no more break out of the prison of his love and service for Jesus than Barabbas could break out of the physical prison he was in. Paul was not ashamed of his chains, because they were links to God.
Paul actually was in prison when he wrote this letter, so his bonds were not only spiritual, but also physical. He was being punished for speaking the truths of God. Circumcision was no longer necessary, washing the outside of the cup was no longer important, picking grain with others and eating it on the Sabbath was no longer an offense worthy of death, and that the rituals of the Jews were not what would save them, but Jesus alone. Paul was held against his will for doing the things he had been told to do by the Spirit. But, again, he was not ashamed of those bonds either. He knew that he wore them for people like the Ephesians to whom he addressed this letter. The suffering Paul endured was on behalf of the people. He wanted them to grow in Christ as he had. He wanted them to understand that nothing the devil could bring against them was as important as staying faithful to Jesus. He was their example of giving thanks in all situations and trials.
Let's read I Peter 4: 12-19, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” No matter what Christians have to endure, if it’s for Jesus, it’s a price worth paying. Paul wanted them to know they needed to continue to spread the gospel so others would hear it, no matter the cost, because, neither Paul nor the Ephesians, nor any Christian will have suffered these wrongs in vain.
The next twelve verses are one continuous sentence except for the break at verse 7.
V. 2- What is the dispensation Paul is talking about? It’s the stewardship God gave him over the Gentiles. We can see this calling in Acts 9:15, 16 where Jesus tells Ananias to go to Paul and restore his vision after the Damascus Road encounter. (Please take time to read Acts 9:1-19 to see how Paul was changed.) Ananias was afraid because of the authority Paul had to arrest and kill the Gentile believers.
Let’s read Acts 9:10-16, “And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.” So Paul was given the authority to preach God’s Word to the Gentiles. It was his job to teach them about Jesus, and His salvation. He took it very seriously. So seriously, he thought being in chains for them a fair price.
So the dispensation, or calling, Paul had been given was to preach the grace of God for salvation to the gentiles. No wonder there was so much opposition. The Jews hated the Gentiles to begin with, and Paul’s reputation for persecuting the Jews would have been well known. They felt they had lost their staunchest supporter in the rebellion against Jesus and His church. They were angry at Paul for giving in to such a thing as the salvation from above.
Wouldn’t you think that hearing about a man, one who was zealous to see Christians done away with, so changed that he dedicated his life to the Jesus he had not believed in would at least cause the Pharisees to pause and think? What it accomplished was that they turned on Paul and wanted him “taken care of.”
V.3- It was by revelation, or an inward revealing, that Jesus disclosed the mysteries of the gospel. What are the mysteries? Let’s name a few:
1: The Trinity
2: That Christ was completely God who became completely man
3: Salvation for anyone who accepted Christ as Savior
4: The resurrection of the dead
5: The changed lives of those who came to know Jesus
6: Justification by His righteousness
7: Atonement and pardon by His blood sacrifice
8: The ability to receive and work in the power of the Holy Spirit.
That’s my short list. Want to add anything?
V.4- The parenthetical phrase that starts in V.3 and ends in V.4 shows that Paul is recapping what he had already told the Ephesians in the first two chapters of this letter. He wanted them to know the importance of what he had written, and by Whose authority. He was letting them know that he had not said these things on his own authority, but by the selection, dispensation and calling from God. He wanted them to understand that the mysteries were given him by revelation, and that it was given to him to share. He wanted them to know who he was, what his position was, and that his knowledge was vast, and able to help them in all ways.
V.5- These mysteries from the Bible were not made common knowledge to the people of the Old Testament. Some, like Abraham, David, Moses and Isaiah, knew because it was given to them. But it was never preached in all the land as it was in Jesus time. I don’t think they could have understood because revelation comes by the Spirit of God, and He had not yet been sent. Yes, He was upon Moses and David and Abraham, but not within them, a living force. Many prophets of old knew about Jesus, and prophesied about His coming, but the mystery lay hidden behind the veil. But once Jesus had been born and took up His ministry with the apostles, once He died and the veil was rent from top to bottom, the Spirit was free to come down into all the hearts that were saved. What was partially revealed is now completely revealed. Praise the Lord!
God bless you all as you continue to study His Word.
More studies at http://www.newbeginmin1.org/BIBLESTUDYOPENING.html
About: I am a pastor, wife for almost 43 years, mother of a son and daughter, grandmother of three boys and one girl. As pastor of New Beginnings Ministry, it is my daily task to work on our two websites as well as monitor our chat rooms. We have a weekly Bible study on Sunday and Thursday nights at 8:00 eastern time in the chat rooms. Everyone is welcome to join us. I also write revsnotes which are occasional studies or musings I send to a list of people who have signed up to receive them, write guest articles for www.Ciloa.org and blog here at praize.Back to Blog | Add to Buddy List
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