Ephesians Chapter Three, The Great Mystery

In our study of Ephesians chapter three, we will look at the great mystery of how God brings together Jews and Gentiles to form a new unified body.

Ephesians 3:1

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles -

Paul opens by explaining that his mission from God is to share the good news with the Gentiles. Paul describes himself as a "prisoner of Christ Jesus" which might seem strange to us but a prisoner is one that cannot leave or do whatever they want. Paul wants them to know that this is from God and not a decision that he made on his own.

Ephesians 3:2 & 3

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.

When Paul accepted Christ and went to Jerusalem to testify, you can bet that it was big news and the story would have spread rapidly. So, Paul assumes that they have heard of his calling and the fact that he was sent to the Gentiles.

Ephesians 3:4 & 5

In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets.

The mystery that Paul refers to is the fact that, through Jesus, Jews and Gentiles are united into one body. The Old Testament talked of all men knowing God but the Jews were always separate as God's chosen people. The mystery is that they are still God's chosen people but Gentiles are included.

Ephesians 3:6

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.

Not only are Gentiles included in the relationship with God but we are joined with Israel into one body. This is only possible through Jesus.

Ephesians 3:7

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power.

Paul explains that it is by God's power that he is able to share the gospel. It is also only because of God's grace that he is allowed to do so.

Ephesians 3:8 & 9

Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable 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.

Paul sums up his ministry here and he never strayed from God's calling on his life. He shows humility in saying that he is less than the least and knew that it was only a gift of God that allowed him to serve. His ministry was twofold in that he was to bring Gentiles to Christ and to explain to everyone how God brought Jews and Gentiles together into one body. When you serve, do you serve with the same attitude (humility and gratitude for the chance to serve)?

Ephesians 3:10 & 11

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 which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The purpose for this great mystery is for God to be glorified. Imagine the surprise when the angels and others in heaven saw Jesus crucified and then raised again. You see they don't know everything so God gets to reveal things about himself and enjoy watching His creation as they come to understand Him more. They had no idea that God was going to bring the Gentiles into a relationship with Him. Just imagine their wonder. We, too, should have that same wonder as we see what God has done for us.

Ephesians 3:12

In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

What a wonderful promise in this verse. Because of the blood of Jesus Christ, we can go to God in prayer anytime and have the assurance that He listens and cares. We can also be sure that, as Jesus said, if we ask for things in faith God will provide.

Ephesians 3:13

I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

Paul reminds the believers that, because of the promise we have through Jesus, suffering does not need to cause depression. The suffering we have here is only temporary and the promise of being with Jesus is for always.

Ephesians 3:14 & 15

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.

Paul was a man of prayer and once again he goes to pray for others. Today, prayer is popular but, as we see here, the prayer is to the Father in heaven and not to or through anyone else.

Ephesians 3:16 & 17a

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.

We see Paul's specific prayers for the Ephesians as he starts by praying for them to be strong in the Spirit.

Ephesians 3:17b-19

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, 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.

Paul continues to share his prayers for the Ephesians as we see that he now prays for them to know how much God loves them. This is more than a head knowledge as it is of the heart. We see that the power to grasp this comes from God and the purpose is so that we will grow closer to Him.

Ephesians 3:20 & 21

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.

Paul concludes his prayer by reminding the Ephesians (and us as well) that El Shaddai (God Almighty) is the one who created all things and therefore owns everything. He can do more than we could ever even dream of and that same power is alive in us as He is in us through the Holy Spirit. The purpose of all things is to bring Him glory.