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Sunday, January 18, 2015 pm                            Ephesians Index

 

STUDIES IN EPHESIANS (13)
The Mystery Revealed
Ephesians 3:1-7

 

Tonight we continue our study of Ephesians.  Thus far in this book, we have noted our blessings in Christ, our need for wisdom, our salvation by God’s grace (His part) through faith (our part) and how Jesus on the cross broke down walls of separation, both between man and God AND between one another (whether Jew or Gentile).   Therefore, Paul calls for these brethren to be unified.  In our last lesson we addressed how when we as brethren are unified as we ought to be, we become “a holy temple in the Lord…a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”

Tonight, we want to examine 3:1-13 where Paul addresses “the mystery” revealed.  In this Paul is explaining WHY the Gentiles should be accepted (without requiring submission to the Law of Moses). 

 I.                    For this reason (1-2)

a.        Paul is a prisoner of Christ Jesus -
This epistle believed to have been written from Rome while Paul was in prison.  He was imprisoned for preaching Christ, hence the description, “the prisoner of Christ Jesus.” 
Consider also Paul calls himself a prisoner OF Christ.  He is in bondage to Him, even more so than Rome (cf. Rom. 6:16-18).  It is this “bondage” that moved Paul to preach Christ, and the same bondage that ties us to Him.  

b.       For the Gentiles – Paul’s calling was to go to the Gentiles.  He emphasized that – Acts 9:15, Galatians 2:7-9, Rom. 11:13, etc.  
This does not mean that he went exclusively to the Gentiles, but he worked, especially among Jewish converts for their inclusion.  His purpose was to complete God’s plan for all mankind. 

NOTE: IT is because of this mission that Paul is in prison, at least indirectly. 

c.        This was his dispensation (2) (stewardship - NASU) – of God’s grace given to him. 
Paul continues to emphasize that this is his mission. 
Worthy of note here is how this is described as his “dispensation of grace.”  This helps us understand what the grace of God includes – doing that which we cannot do for ourselves.  He appointed Paul (see above passages) to take the message the final step to all nations.  This also accords with His instructions to Peter in Acts 10 with Cornelius (cf. Acts 10:34-35, 43; 11:18, also Acts 15)  
Thus, Paul was both a recipient of God’s grace and his stewardship was to reveal that grace to ALL mankind. Romans 15:15-16.

 

 II.                  The mystery revealed (3-5)

a.        How that by revelation – in addition to the point of our text, we also learn about the transmission of God’s word in this passage.
God let Paul know what to teach.  The word revelation (
ποκάλυψις, apokalypsis) means an uncovering, to cause something to be fully known.  The reason God’s word is relevant and to be respected is because of the way it was revealed.  The proofs of inspiration transcend of any other book in all of history. 
As Paul has indicated, this is the word of God.  He has revealed His will to us.  2 Peter 1:19-21 – holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
1 Cor. 2:10-13 finds Paul describing this very thing.  Later in that letter he will challenge them by saying, “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 14:37)
In 2 Peter 1:3 we read that “His divine power has given to us all thing things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue”.

b.       The mystery – the word mystery (μυστήριον, mystērion) is a word that means something that is of was not revealed, either partially or fully.   We will discuss this mystery in more detail in a few moments.  It does NOT mean something that cannot be understood, but rather it is hidden. 
Paul wrote that to him this mystery had been “made known.”  FURTHER, the point Paul is making is that he is REVEALING that which WAS a mystery.

c.        As I have briefly written already”, He wrote it down (for us).  The word was preserved.  Typically, God’s message was first revealed orally and then recorded in writing.  What we have is the writings (actually copies of the writings).  2 Tim. 3:16-17 tells us that writings inspired are profitable…
What exactly Paul had written we are not told, but we know it has to do with the mystery – some believe that perhaps it was Eph. 1:9-10. 
Romans 16:25-26 as Paul concludes that epistle makes reference to both the mystery now manifest and “by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations…”

d.       So that we may understand – what Paul wrote was not something that required special revelation for his readers to comprehend.  He wrote so that the average Ephesian could understand his point.  Paul is calling for unity and he is explaining that unity.
If we think the word of God is unintelligible without His help or without the guidance of “qualified” leaders then either we don’t need it OR we are relying on some man to tell us what it really means and what we need to do. 
Ephesians 5:17 tells us to understand what the will of the Lord is. 
In John 8:31-32 Jesus said that the truth will make us free.  The truth is His will.

e.       “My knowledge in the mystery of Christ” – was the ultimate purpose of Christ coming?  It was to die, not just for a select few, but for all mankind.  John 12:32, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”  2 Cor. 5:14-15 says that He died for all. 
In our previous sermons on Ephesians 2 Paul noted Christ died for Jew and Gentile alike. 

f.         “Which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men” – Consider 1 Peter 1:10-12.  Prophets wrote things some of which they did not fully comprehend its meaning.  But they wrote and spoke what they were told.  Hebrews 1:1-2 notes that in times past God spoke in various ways, but in these last days has spoken to us by His Son.

g.        “as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets” -

                                                   i.      The mystery is now known! (as Paul writes in that time)

                                                  ii.      There were prophets in those days

                                                iii.      There were also prophets of old that preached salvation to the Gentiles, but in terms that were not fully realized until Christ came and the message was carried to the Gentiles.

 

 III.                What is THE mystery? (6-7)

a.        That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs. 
As you study the Old Testament you see a law for the Jewish nation.  Yet, there are references to its ultimate fulfillment in ALL nations, including the Gentiles.  I am convinced this is what Paul has been addressing that was partially revealed “in other ages”.  Consider:

                                                   i.      The promise to Abraham – Genesis 12:3, in you all nations of the earth will be blessed.  This promise was not just about the Jews who would inherit Canaan, but rather ALL nations! 

                                                  ii.      This same promise was repeated to both Isaac (Gen. 24:6) and Jacob (Gen. 28:14).

                                                iii.      Amos 9:11-12,  “On that day I will raise up The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, And repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, And rebuild it as in the days of old; That they may possess the remnant of Edom, And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,” Says the Lord who does this thing.

                                                iv.      Isaiah 11:10,  “And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him, And His resting place shall be glorious.”” (, NKJV)

                                                  v.      Isaiah 49:6, “Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ”

                                                vi.      Isaiah 62:1–2, “For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, And her salvation as a lamp that burns. The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, And all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, Which the mouth of the Lord will name.

b.        That the Gentiles are of the same body – Paul has previously discussed how we are all part of His church (Eph. 2:19-22)

c.        That the Gentiles should be partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel – consider Acts 2:38-39.  On the day of Pentecost Peter calls for them to be baptized and speaks of the promise being for them and “to all who are afar off…”

d.       Vs. 7 again reminds us that Paul was a minister of this gospel according to the grace of God given to him through His power.  All things we have discussed previous in this book.  He is establishing his authority in writing these things.  We will address this in greater detail with our next lesson.

 

And there you have the mystery revealed – SALVATION IS FOR ALL, both Jew and Gentile alike!  
Consider this text in light of what we have discussed up to this point.  Paul has noted we are all sinners and Christ died to reconcile us into one body.  In our text, he is explaining how that includes the Gentiles.  As we continue to study we will see his conclusion – God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34) and neither should we be.  Let us remember this as we seek to expand the borders of His kingdom where we have opportunity.  More on this in our next lesson about Ephesians.   

While salvation is available to all, it must be received.  Have you obeyed the gospel?