Scriptures

Ephesians 3

Introduction

‘For this reason, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles.’ Ephesians 3:1

Paul was a prisoner for Christ, both physically and spiritually, Philippians 1:13 / 2 Timothy 1:8. He was a prisoner for about six years but always made the most of every opportunity, Ephesians 5:16. We can always find reasons to be negative, we can always find reasons to grumble, but this doesn’t help us to do good work.

Wherever Paul is, he’s a prisoner of Christ, at the time of writing this letter he was literally a prisoner, Ephesians 6:20 / Acts 21:33 / Acts 28:20 / Colossians 4:18 / Philemon 13.

Paul was accused of bringing Gentiles into the temple, Acts 22:22, but he can only think about the privileges he has by being a prisoner of Christ, one of which was the privilege of proclaiming the Gospel.

‘Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.’ Ephesians 3:2-6

The word administration is ‘oikonomia’ this speaks about taking care of things belonging to another, we are living in this time of God’s grace, John 1:17 / Titus 2:11. The word mystery is ‘musterion’ it carries with it the idea of something which was once hidden, but now is made known.

The word revelation is ‘apocalypsus’, although Paul had studied, the knowledge he was given was by direct revelation from God, Galatians 1:11-12 / Galatians 1:16 / Galatians 1:12 / Acts 9:15 / Acts 22:21 / Romans 11:13 / Galatians 3:9.

What Was The Mystery?

The mystery was God’s eternal plan of redemption through the sacrificial cross of Jesus Christ, Ephesians 6:19 / Romans 11:25 / Romans 16:25 / Titus 2:11. Although some believe this mystery was revealed hundreds of years before Christ came, Paul tells us that the mystery wasn’t revealed before the coming of Jesus, 1 Peter 1:10-12 / 1 Corinthians 2:10-13.

Although Paul tells us that the Gospel was preached to Abraham in Galatians 3:8, we must understand that what was revealed to Abraham was that it would be through seed the Earth would be blessed, Genesis 12:3. In other words, the blessings which would come through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ wasn’t revealed to Abraham.

Although the prophets were given partial revelations of the blessings to come, Isaiah 53 / Psalm 22, they didn’t fully understand the nature of the Gospel and the effects it would have on mankind, 1 Peter 1:10-12. It was the through the Holy Spirit that the New Testament apostles and prophets received the full revelation of the Gospel, John 14:26 / John 16:13 / 1 Corinthians 2:10-13 / 2 Timothy 3:16.

Notice the Gentiles are now ‘heirs together with Israel, members together as one body, shares together in the promises of Christ’. It’s clear that Paul wants the Jewish Christians to understand that both Jew and Gentile are now equal in every way in Christ, Acts 10:34-35 / Galatians 3:28-29.

The Gentiles, just like the Jews, received the promise of justification by grace through faith, they are fellow heirs of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:38-39, they have the promise of eternal life in heaven. In other words, because they are now in one body, that is the church, Colossians 1:18, the Gentiles have all the blessings that were promised to the fathers that would come through Israel.

‘I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.’ Ephesians 3:7-9

It was by God’s grace that Paul was given the ministry of preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles, Ephesians 1:19 / Ephesians 3:20 / Romans 1:5 / Colossians 1:29. It was by God’s grave that he had the power to do the miraculous signs among the Gentiles in order to confirm that he was a messenger of God, Romans 15:18 / Mark 16:17-20 / Hebrews 2:3-4.

Why does he speak as being the least of all the Lord’s people?

He obviously still feels bad that he was an persecutor of Christians, Acts 8:3 / 1 Corinthians 15:9 / 1 Timothy 1:13. He now understands that what he is, is by the grace of God. It’s because God made him like that, God has given him that, he’s enabled by God to be what he has become.

It’s very sad that the only time people speak about grace is when its connected to salvation, all we have is by the grace of God, we are who we are by the grace of God. The riches of Christ are unending, it isn’t exhaustible, try emptying the sea, it’s impossible.

Can we really understand what Christ did for us? I don’t think we have a clue, we’re only scratching on the surface.

‘His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.’ Ephesians 3:10-13

God’s manifold wisdom may now be made know through the ‘ecclesia’, that is church. The angelic rulers in heavenly realms are being taught by the things the people from the church do. There are many authorities, many different kinds of spiritual forces working in heavenly realms, Ephesians 6:12. Paul here is telling us there are no distinctions between good and bad, but Christ is the ultimate power.

It’s in Christ Jesus that God carries out His eternal purpose, this points out the uniqueness of Christ. The creation has their fulfilment in Christ Jesus.

Prayer is communion with God, and we can pray at any time with our creator. We have boldness, we have purpose, we have an invitation and free access. Being given special permission to see someone very special, for example, visiting a king or leader. If you were you a child of this king or leader, you wouldn’t have the need for this special channel to go through.

We have confident access through our faith in Him, Hebrews 4:14 / Hebrews 10:19. We have full confidence and freedom to enter, so don’t lose heart, don’t be discouraged.

‘For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.’ Ephesians 3:14-15

Paul says he kneels before the Father, there are many positions of prayer mentioned in Scripture. In 1 Kings 8:54, we see Saul was kneeling down to pray, in Luke 2:41, we see Jesus was kneeling down. In Acts 20:36, we see that Paul knelt down, in Acts 21:5, we see the disciples knelling to pray. Paul reminds Timothy that men should raise their hands in prayer, 1 Timothy 2:8.

What do we normally do during praying? We bow our heads, close eyes and fold hands. Bowing down as a sign of respect, closing our eyes and putting our hands together is done so that we won’t be distracted.

Why do we not follow the Bible example?

The only one who was standing, did it for show, but we don’t do it in the church for show. Jesus reminds us that we shouldn’t stand on street corners like the heathens to pray, Matthew 6:5. More important than the position, is the state of our heart when we pray, but we should however take a convenient position in order for us to endure the prayer time.

The word family is ‘patria’ which speaks about family in the general sense. God is here the ideal Father, there’s no better model for fatherhood than God Himself. God forgives us when we do things wrong, He doesn’t write all our wrongdoings in a book marked with a date, He has no pleasure in doing so.

Parents don’t want to remember all the things their children did wrong, so why would God! If we love to give presents to others, especially to our children, how much more does our heavenly Father like to give things to us, Matthew 7:9-11.

‘I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.’ Ephesians 3:16-19

God has a warehouse of goodies that never will be out of stock, He has unlimited riches and can give us unlimited blessing.

The inner being is the spiritual part of a person, which isn’t visible, the inward man delights in the law of God, Romans 7:22, outwardly we’re falling apart but inwardly we’re being renewed day by day, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. The inner being certainly involves the conscience, this is the training of our senses, Hebrews 5:14. The more we allow our lives to be overcome by the Spirit of God, the more spiritual power we have.

Christ dwells, ‘katoikeo’ in our hearts though faith, that is a picture of Christ taking residence in us. Christ had the fullness of deity dwelling in Him in bodily form, Colossians 1:19 / Colossians 2:9. When we are baptized, God’s Spirit takes residence in us.

How do we know that Christ dwells in us?

Because God told us so, God promised to give the Spirit upon baptism, Acts 2:38. We are confident that God lives in us and that we have peace. Our faith shouldn’t be based on our feelings. What if our feelings our down when we have a bad day? It’s better to live by faith because it’s through faith we know what is true. If we live by faith, we might still have a bad day, but it’s not that bad anymore, because we still believe that we have peace within us.

If a person hasn’t got the Spirit of Christ, they have nothing, they have no peace, Romans 8:9-11. If we have a conscience trained by the word of God, we’re able to decide what is right and wrong in almost every case. We might not know book, chapter and verse in that case, but we still know what the right thing is to do.

Some people say that they have a dream, or a feeling that they have to do something, they say that this was a revelation from God. But God doesn’t give direct revelations and doesn’t speak through emotions. Some people say that God commanded them to kill someone, this is just a way to reduce the responsibility.

If someone loves Jesus, they will keep His words and we make our home with him, John 14:23 / John 15:4. We are in Christ and He is in us. If the Spirit of God has a good development in us, we should live our lives by the Spirit, Romans 8:2-8 / Galatians 5:16 / Galatians 5:25, and it’s through the Spirit that God strengthened us.

Paul prays that they will be rooted and grounded like a tree. If the roots aren’t very deep, the tree can be blown down. Normally the roots will anchor the tree and will hold it at place but if we don’t have the love of God in our hearts, we will not be strong. Love is our roots, it always wants the best for another, its always interested in the highest good for those around us, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

If you build the smallest wall, you still have to make a good foundation, you have to dig down till you reach solid ground. Without love, the Scriptures are meaningless. Before supporting everything else, there should be love! If there is no love you are absolutely wasting your time! There is so much done around us in the name of Christ, without any form of love.

We must have our roots deep and our foundation based in love because we can’t be indwelled by the Spirit of God without having love, Galatians 5:22-23. Love isn’t a feeling as a response to how another person treats you, no, it’s independent from the other. Love is the intention to do genuinely what is the best for the other person, making the other person more important as yourself, Philippians 2:4.

The word fullness is ‘pleroma’, and it’s in Him all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form, Colossians 2:9, and in Him we are made full. People of the world live empty spiritual lives, but Paul’s prayer is that our fellowship with God will be complete.

‘Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.’ Ephesians 3:20-21

This is a description of praise to God, the praise of God’s power. Immeasurably, He is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond and above what we ask or even could think, 2 Corinthians 9:8. Imagine a road in the desert, make it as long as you like and still God can go on and on and on, the glory belongs forever to God, Ephesians 1:19 / 1 Corinthians 2:9 / 2 Corinthians 13:4.

We have the God’s power to do wonderful things is our lives for God. The power is used to bring glory to His Name. This power that’s mentioned is said to be ‘in us’, God’s mighty power that saved us is the same power that raised Christ from the dead, Ephesians 1:19-20.

We have this power through the Holy Spirit, Romans 8:26, to perform acts that are pleasing to God, like Mary did, when she told Jesus of the need for wine at the wedding. She said to the servants, ‘whatever He says to you, do it, John 2:5. She didn’t think about the impossibilities but was content that Jesus knew about the need and would meet that need, John 2:1-11.

God’s power helps us to continually grow in our faith and knowledge of God, in order to become more Christlike throughout in our lives, this power helps us preserve to salvation, 1 Peter 1:5, and enables us to bear afflictions, 2 Timothy 1:8.

God has revealed Himself to us through His work of creation, Romans 1:20, His work with the patriarchs, through Jesus. Since God is beyond our full comprehension, He is worthy of our worship and it’s through the obedience and worship of the church that God is glorified, Psalm 45:17 / Psalm 72:17 / Romans 11:36 / Revelation 5:13.

Please note that it’s not the church that’s to receive glory, its God. When people see the work of God through those who are in Christ, the response should be glory to God, Matthew 5:16.

As Christians we should expect more, and ask for more, we should be encouraged by what Christ has already done in our lives and be assured that the conversion of our souls, and others people’s souls, and the comfort of believers, will be to His glory, for ever and ever. Amen, so be it, Romans 1:25 / Romans 9:5 / Galatians 1:3-5 / Philippians 4:20 / 1 Timothy 1:17 / 2 Timothy 4:18.

The first three chapters were theoretical, they are speaking about our standing in Christ and about our future inheritance. The next three chapters are very practical.

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Go To Ephesians 4

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

Romans 10:9

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