"THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS"
The Revelation Of The Mystery (Eph 3:1-13)
1. In the last half of the second chapter, Paul expounded upon "How The
Gentiles Became Fellow Heirs" (Eph 2:11-22 ), in which those who once
were "far off" are now "made near" by the blood of Christ - Eph 2:13
2. As a result of the work of Christ on the cross, Gentiles can now
become "one body" with the Jews in Christ (Eph 2:14-18), and
therefore can be:
a. "Fellow citizens with the saints" - Eph 2:19a
b. "Members of the household of God" - Eph 2:19b
c. "A holy temple in the Lord...a habitation of God in the Spirit"
- Eph 2:20-22
3. When you compare Eph 3:1 with Eph 3:14, it becomes clear in verse
one that Paul was about to express a prayer on behalf of the Ephesians
4. But the mention of himself as "the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you
Gentiles" prompts Paul to interrupt himself...
a. From Eph 3:13, where Paul concludes his brief interruption, it
appears Paul is concerned that his reference to his imprisonment
(i.e., his tribulations) should not be taken as a call for pity
b. For Paul considers that all he endured for the sake of the
Gentiles (including his present imprisonment in Rome) as just part
of the wonderful grace of God that had been shown to him, "who am
less than the least of all the saints" (Eph 3:8)
5. What was this wonderful grace of God that was shown to Paul?
a. It pertains to the revelation of a mystery that for ages had been
b. But was now being revealed through apostles and prophets,
6. In this lesson, we shall examine Paul's "interruption", and answer
the following questions...
a. What is this mystery that had been hidden?
b. How was it being revealed?
[Our second question is actually answered first, for before Paul defines
"the mystery" he speaks of God's grace towards him and...]
I. THE REVELATION OF THE MYSTERY (Eph 2:1-5)
A. A MYSTERY NOW REVEALED... (Eph 2:1-4)
1. By the grace of God, this "mystery" was made known to Paul
- Eph 3:2-3a
2. Paul, in turn, made known the "mystery" through his writings
- Eph 3:3b
3. The Ephesians, by reading Paul's words, could then have his
understanding of this "mystery of Christ" - Eph 3:4
4. This passage tells us several things:
a. How "we" come to know this "mystery"
1) It is not through direct revelation, though Paul may have
received it this way
2) It is through reading his words, i.e., through reading
the Word of God!
b. The Word of God is understandable!
1) Some people say it is not, or that it is too hard to be
2) But clearly Paul intended for people to understand his
"knowledge in the mystery of Christ"!
3) The problem some people have is that they misunderstand
Paul's use of the term "mystery" and think the Bible is
still a mystery; but notice...
B. CALLED A "MYSTERY", BECAUSE IT WAS ONCE "HIDDEN"... (v 5)
1. It is important to appreciate this fact: this "mystery" is
called such, not because it REMAINS a mystery, but because that
is what it was for so long in times past!
2. Just as certain novels are still called "mysteries"...
a. Even though you may have read them and know the ending, you
still refer to those novels as "mysteries"
b. So it is with the "mystery of Christ", it is called such
because it had been one for so long, though now we know the
"ending" (or what had been a "secret")
3. That such is the case here, consider these passages:
a. "...according to the revelation of the mystery which was
kept secret since the world began but now has been made
manifest," - Rom 16:25-26
b. "having made known to us the mystery of His will..." - Eph 1:9
c. "which in other ages was not made known...as it has been
revealed" - Eph 3:5
d. "the mystery which as been hidden from ages and from
generations, but now has been revealed to His saints." -
[So we know that this "mystery" has now been revealed, but WHAT,
exactly, is the "mystery"? Paul explained it earlier in this epistle
(cf. Eph 3:3b-4a), but now he summarizes...]
II. THE "REVEALED" MYSTERY EXPLAINED (Eph 2:6-12)
A. IT INVOLVES THE "GENTILES"... (v 6)
1. I.e., those that we saw in chapter two, who at one time were:
a. "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel"
b. "strangers from the covenants of promise"
c. "having no hope and without God in the world"
2. The mystery now revealed is that these Gentiles can be:
a. "fellow heirs"
b. "of the same body"
c. "partakers of His (God's) promise in Christ"
3. This is what Paul wrote about in Eph 2:11-22, and to which he
refers in Eph 3:3b-4a
a. That Gentiles, who for ages were not included in God's
special dealings with the Israelites...
b. ...could now become part of God's spiritual family and heirs
to the wonderful blessings that God makes available through
B. AS "APOSTLE TO THE GENTILES", PAUL'S TASK WAS... (vs 7-12)
1. "to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of
Christ" - Eph 3:7-8
a. This Paul did, even in letters like this one to the
b. As we saw in Eph 1:3-14
2. "to make all people see what is the fellowship of the mystery"
- Eph 3:9
a. Again, Paul used epistles like Ephesians, and also
b. As we saw in Eph 2:11-22
3. "to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be
known" - Eph 3:10-12 - Here Paul expands his thoughts...
a. This wisdom of God is being made known "by the church"
1) Paul, of course, was doing his part as an apostle
2) But the whole church, as "the pillar and ground of the
truth", is involved in proclaiming the wisdom of God -
cf. 1 Tim 3:15
3) The church does this, both by what it "is" and by what it
a) It's very "existence" proclaims the wisdom of God
b) As well as the "message" it proclaims
b. This wisdom of God is being made known to "principalities
and powers in the heavenly places"
1) Not just to "the Gentiles" (Eph 3:8) and to "all people"
(Eph 3:9 )
2) But as the church carries out its mission, even spiritual
entities are being enlightened - cf. 1 Pe 1:10-12
(where even angels were once "in the dark" about the
salvation now being offered in Christ)
c. Making known the wisdom of God "by the church" was part of
God's "eternal purpose"
1) The church was not an afterthought, but part of God's
plan for eternity!
2) From the beginning, it was to play an important role in
God's scheme of redemption for mankind!
3) This verse has serious ramifications for some
a) For there are those who say the church was an
"afterthought", established only after Christ and His
kingdom were rejected
b) But this verse clearly indicates that the church was
part of God's plan from the beginning!
1. Knowing that his work as an apostle, and the work of the church, was
all part of God's "eternal purpose" being carried out in Christ
Jesus, Paul had great boldness and confidence of continued access to
God - Eph 3:12
2. Therefore, he did not want his mention of imprisonment to be a source
a. For even the tribulations it might have caused him was glory for
the Gentiles! - Eph 3:13
b. How? Because in imprisonment Paul was "an ambassador in chains"
- Eph 6:19-20
1) As such he could "make known the mystery of the gospel"
2) And whenever the "mystery" is made known, the exalted position
God now has for Gentiles is also known!
3. We, too, should have "boldness and access with confidence through
faith in Him", knowing that...
a. We are part of God's "eternal purpose" being carried out!
b. We who are Gentiles are but a demonstration of that wonderful
"mystery of Christ", in which Gentiles can be:
1) "fellow heirs"
2) "of the same body"
3) "partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel"
-- with the faithful of Israel (such as Peter, Paul, and many
others who have accepted Jesus as the Messiah)
Are you in this "body", which we learn in Eph 1:22-23 is the church of
Jesus Christ? The Lord adds the saved to His church (cf. Acts 2:47).
How can one be saved and thus "added" by the Lord to His church?
Consider carefully Acts 2:36-41 ...
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