Read Ephesians 3
God’s Marvelous Plan for the Gentiles
3 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—
2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 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. 6 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.
7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 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, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 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, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
A Prayer for the Ephesians
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 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, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 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, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
In verses 1-6, Paul explains the purpose of his writings to the church in Ephesus. He is writing this letter to help explain the mystery that was made known to him through revelation in hopes that readers/hearers can more wholly understand the mystery of Christ. This “mystery” that is being revealed is that all are welcome in the body of Christ. We are no longer separated as Jew or Gentile but as sinners saved by immeasurable grace through Jesus Christ.
We see this applied today. We are all uniquely created, but our identity is in Christ and Christ alone. We do not find our identity in anything else but the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
The second portion of this text (verses 7-13) fully embodies humble service to which we are all called. Since we all now are identified under the saving grace of Jesus, we all are called to the same mission to tell the world of this magnificent mystery of grace. However, this should not allow us to become arrogant or prideful in our own words or actions. We are sinners saved by grace. God is the star of our message, not us. We see this humble service displayed by Paul when he refers to himself as “the very least of all the saints” to whom grace was given. It is not about Paul. It is not about us. It is about Jesus. Always. When we have a correct perspective of our previous sinful state and our newly found resurrected state, we can live out our “eternal purpose that is realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Now, we can have boldness, confidence, and full access to the source of all strength and wisdom as we proclaim the goodness of God to a world that needs it.
Verses 14-21 display the final concept shared in this chapter of Scripture: God is more capable than we could ever even hope to imagine. Take a moment to think about where Paul is writing this note. The picture below shows what his cell probably looked like. Even in these harsh conditions that none of us could ever dream of experiencing, Paul trusted God to do “more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” Sometimes verses 20-21 can be taken out of context to say God is going to give us immeasurably more wealth, fame, promotions, family, etc. That is not what these verses are saying.
Take a look back at 14-19 and you can see what Paul is asking for. He is asking that all know Jesus and would be filled with His strength and power through the Holy Spirit to understand the depths of Christ’s love and then share it with the world. It goes back to our mission that was laid out for us in verses 7-13.
God wants to do immeasurably more through you for His kingdom, not for your earthly kingdom that will vanish like a vapor one day. He wants to use you right now where you are. Sometimes this may mean earthly riches and fame may come. There is no problem with that. However, if we look at Paul, we see that when God does immeasurably more through us here on earth, we may just end up facing earthly suffering and never taste riches or fame until we are with Jesus in heaven. God wants to use you. All are welcome. We all have a part to play through humility. God is more capable than we could ever even hope to imagine.
- Is there anything you are identifying with that you place on a higher pedestal than being identified with Christ? Are you willing to change that?
- What part can you play in sharing the love and goodness of God boldly like Paul today?
- Are you honestly willing to forsake earthly comforts for the sole purpose of proclaiming Christ to a world that needs Him?
Did You Know?
Below, courtesy of BiblePlaces.com, is an example of what Paul’s cell likely would have looked like. He wrote four “prison epistles” while in Rome: Ephesians, Phillippians, Colossians, and Philemon!
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