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Sunday, February 15, 2015 pm                            Ephesians Index

 

STUDIES IN EPHESIANS (14)

The Mystery Humbly Revealed

Ephesians 3:6-13

 

Tonight we continue our study of Ephesians.  In our last lesson we began a discussion of the mystery revealed to Paul.  We noted that Paul had received it by revelation from God and that it was recorded for us so that we might understand that “mystery”.  What that mystery is we will discuss tonight.  

As we concluded our lesson last time we were noting that this “mystery” Paul recorded was “revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets…”  (Eph. 3:5)  The point being it is NOW known. 

 

I.                    What is THE mystery? (5-7)

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

                                                   i.      I am convinced that the prophets Paul specifically had in mind were contemporaries of the apostles (cf. Eph. 4:11, 1 Cor. 12:10, etc.).  They were revealing all of God’s word for us.

                                                  ii.      But I also believe that what they revealed is related to what some of the prophets of old (the Old Testament) had addressed.  1 Peter 1:10-12 notes how some of the prophets inquired about the salvation Paul was now writing about and they were told that it was for us (not to themselves).

b.       That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs (6)
THIS is “the mystery” – salvation is for ALL! 

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.

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

d.       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…”

e.       Vs. 7 again reminds us that Paul was a minister (a servant, not an office in this case) of this gospel.  According to the gift of the grace of God given to him through His power.  Paul views how God entrusted him to deliver this message a gift of grace.  Interesting when you consider how much Paul suffered as he revealed it.  As he will elaborate in the next verse, Paul realizes how unworthy he really is. Yet God chose him to preach this message.  ALSO, he was delivering the message of God’s grace which includes much of what we have discussed in this book up to this point.
Ultimately, Paul is establishing his authority in writing these things.  

 

II.                  The Mystery Presented

a.        Vs. 8, Paul speaks of his character in delivering this message.

                                                   i.      NOTE: Some versions begin this point in vs. 7 because vs. 8 builds upon what Paul said there.  A challenge we have in putting scripture together is that in the original there was no chapter or verse breaks and no paragraph format as we have.  Therefore we are left to a degree of judgment.  (I have learned this in assigning our textual Bible readings, which is why sometimes a reading will seem to begin in the middle of a thought or even a sentence.  It depends on which version you are reading from and the text used in assigning the readings - TT). 
Then again, the point is not that significant in this text.   BOTH divisions are plausible and regardless of which one you use, Paul is emphasizing his gift of God’s grace to reveal “the mystery” and either way, he is pointing back to vs. 1-6.

                                                  ii.      He is least of all the saints – in all that he does we see his humility and (perceived) unworthiness.  Again, this is something Paul spoke of more than once –
1 Tim. 1:12-15 – Paul demonstrates what we are talking about to Timothy.
1 Cor. 15:9 – least of the apostles because he persecuted the church of God (NOTE that in our text, Paul takes this even further – least of all the saints)

 2 Cor. 12:11 – even in defending His apostleship he notes, “though I am nothing”
Consider Paul with great authority from God as an apostle.  He confidently affirms his mission and position, yet we find there is NO prideful arrogance.
DO WE need this attitude in dealing with others?  James 4:6, 1 Peter. 5:5 – God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (cf. Prov. 3:34)
1 Peter 5:6 therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God
James 4:10, humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord…
Romans 12:3 – do NOT think more highly of yourselves than you ought to think!
Phil. 2:3-4 – “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.

                                                iii.      This grace was given to him – Galatians 2:7-8 – Paul accepted his task willingly and unconditionally.  Consider Rom. 1:16 – he was not ashamed to preach it.
1 Cor. 1:17 he notes he was sent to preach the gospel
1 Cor. 9:16 he said, “Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.

b.       His grace was given to preach – 8b-10

                                                   i.      He preached  among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ – what God offers is so much greater than man can understand.

                                                  ii.      He made known “the fellowship of the mystery” (NKJV, KJV), “plan of the mystery” (ESV), “dispensation of the mystery” (NASB95), “dispensation of the mystery” (ASV) – there is a variant in the original text which explains the difference in wording – His plans lead to fellowship between Jews and Gentiles (i.e. all of mankind).

                                                iii.      Which was hidden from the beginning of the ages – God’s eternal plan!  What God did was no mistake! 

                                                iv.      But now, His manifold wisdom has been made known by (through) the church  - the church is a manifestation of His wisdom (and grace). 

                                                  v.      IN OUR NEXT LESSON, we want to address these things that Paul preached and note what our response will be when we understand these things (8-13)

 

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. 

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