Sunday, September 25, 2011
Ephesians 3 The Mystery, Jesus Christ
Ephesians 3 The Mystery, Jesus Christ
Common English Bible (CEB) Via Biblegateway.com
1 This is why I, Paul, am a prisoner of Christ for you Gentiles.
2 You’ve heard, of course, about the responsibility to distribute God’s grace, which God gave to me for you, right? 3 God showed me his secret plan[a] in a revelation, as I mentioned briefly before 4 (when you read this, you’ll understand my insight into the secret plan[b] about Christ). 5 Earlier generations didn’t know this hidden plan that God has now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets through the Spirit. 6 This plan is that the Gentiles would be coheirs and parts of the same body, and that they would share with the Jews in the promises of God in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7 I became a servant of the gospel because of the grace that God showed me through the exercise of his power.
8 God gave his grace to me, the least of all God’s people, to preach the good news about the immeasurable riches of Christ to the Gentiles. 9 God sent me to reveal the secret plan[c] that had been hidden since the beginning of time by God, who created everything. 10 God’s purpose is now to show the rulers and powers in the heavens the many different varieties of his wisdom through the church. 11 This was consistent with the plan he had from the beginning of time that he accomplished through Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In Christ we have bold and confident access to God through faith in him.[d] 13 So then, I ask you not to become discouraged by what I’m suffering for you, which is your glory.
14 This is why I kneel before the Father. 15 Every ethnic group in heaven or on earth is recognized by him. 16 I ask that he will strengthen you in your inner selves from the riches of his glory through the Spirit. 17 I ask that Christ will live in your hearts through faith. As a result of having strong roots in love, 18 I ask that you’ll have the power to grasp love’s width and length, height and depth, together with all believers. 19 I ask that you’ll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God.
20 Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by his power at work within us; 21 glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus for all generations, forever and always. Amen.
Ephesians 3:3 Or mystery
Ephesians 3:4 Or mystery
Ephesians 3:9 Or mystery
I love how the Common English Bible states the firsts verse in a form of a question. “v2 You’ve heard, of course, about the responsibility to distribute God’s grace, which God gave to me for you, right?” For me, it conveys the heart of the verse in a way other versions gloss over. Paul, mentions that he has stated this before, and this is a gentle (or rhetorical) reminder of what he has already taught and was accepted as truth by those in Ephesus who now are reading his words. Paul lays out the mystery, or “secret plan” that was always there yet hidden. This secret plan was hidden to those throughout the ages yet, was always there in plain sight. Paul, states he received the understanding of the secret plan by revelation.
Revelation is tricky. Many can claim revelation, and use it to abuse people. Some seem to think that they become special when they receive revelation and often this seems to go to people’s head and they become power hungry and abusive. I do think at times these people are truly humble at a point, as they could not receive revelation without humility. However, Satan or humanities own evil desires can twist even the purest revelation into something it was never intended for. Again, I am not speaking of something that was not there in the text, but the sudden understanding of a text of Scripture, more akin to Luther’s “the just shall live by faith” moment that rocks the Church even today.
This special revelation that Paul received was special in that Paul was the first to see it. Paul, by guidance of the Holy Spirit of Christ Jesus, began to understand who Jesus was. Jesus WAS the Mystery or Secret Plan from the beginning of creation. Jesus was the redemption of all creation. Jesus was the unveiling of the Goodness and loving compassion of God alone. God is and was possibly NEVER angry with mankind, but with sin.
But, there is more to this secret plan of Christ Jesus. For the Jews believed they were like the man who received that special revelation, however instead of spreading to all the nations of the world, they kept it hidden by not sharing the goodness of God to the Nations. They, like the pastor who sees a truth and uses it for his own advantage, twisted the true nature of the Law into a Graceless means to force God to listen and obey their desires. If that was not horrific alone, they then used the Law to divide and keep people away from God instead of using it to unite and bring those to God.
Now, not all of Israel did this, but at the time of Jesus this was the case with the Roman rule and occupation of Jerusalem. The focus was on trying to get God’s attention as if God was like the pagan Gods. But they already had God’s attention, as well as the Gentiles who did not even seek God. God already had the secret plan in motion at creation in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Paul was suffering, as he was in chains bound by Roman guards. Paul had suffered much for Christ in many ways from stonings to whippings. However, Paul stated that these sufferings were all worth it if the Gentiles came to know Jesus. For this reason, Paul would kneel and pray that every ethnic group would come to know Jesus in an intimate way in a love that knows no boundaries.
V 18 I ask that you’ll have the power to grasp love’s width and length, height and depth, together with all believers.
This love that has no boundaries or bonds goes beyond mere head knowledge. It is received only by revelation. It goes straight to the heart of a person and may take a while for the head to begin to even comprehend it (though I believe it never can). To know this love is to know the Fullness of God. The Fullness of God is Christ Jesus of course, so to know Jesus is to know the Fullness of God through Christ in you.
Often we want to peg down God in our mere and pathetic theologies. Yes, I am often guilty of this myself so do not mean to point fingers at others. However, we must realize that God is able to do much more than we will ever comprehend in and through us by His Power (not ours). By doing this, God brings glory to Himself and to His Church through Christ Jesus and this will be everlasting.