Ephesians 3:1-13
To the Nations

1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: 12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. 13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

In the unfolding of divine truth relating to Jews and Gentiles together being, a habitation of God, Paul was about to pray for those united believers seated in heavenly places. He was going to go over before God, a number of the fundamental needs of those who are in the church which is His body. And then the Spirit of God led him to digress from that path of teaching to an issue that bears heavily on the subject. What is behind this habitation of God? What brought the unified body of believers to be members of the household of God? Where do these pieces come from who are being fitly framed together into a “holy temple in the Lord?” This diversion takes the readers back to how all of this previously hidden truth came to pass. The church is not the same as Israel was to God in the Old Testament. It is not the same as the kingdom over which Christ will reign for the millennium. The church began at Pentecost and continues to grow until the Lord Jesus comes to call it to Himself as His bride. Paul clarifies how it had come to be connected with the “one new man” of which the believers in Ephesus were a part.

To many who claim to be Christians, the church which is the body of Christ is just and extension of Israel of the Old Testament. Some will say therefore, that infant baptism and circumcision are the same traditional form of coming into the church. This kind of speculation comes from those who do not read the Bible in the way it is written, and only take what they are told by spiritual advisors who follow a sectarian agenda. This parenthesis Paul writes is to clarify the fact that the mystery has to do with “the Christ” and His church. Itis to this fact these verses are addressed. The grace of God toward all nations was, and is, preached in the Gospel. That commission came from the Lord Jesus Christ just before He ascended into heaven. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…” and the mandate was carried our first by the apostles who heard that commission directly from the Lord, and has now come down to us in this generation.

Paul’s situation in prison did not enter into the subject matter, only to exemplify what it means at times to preach the Gospel of Christ. He was not ashamed of the message he had to proclaim because he knew he was where God wanted him to be, doing what God wanted him to do. He had the blessed responsibility of passing on the message of God’s grace to all nations. The situation in which he was found did not alter that call. We have been given a sacred trust as stewards of the grace of God. People need to know they are able to be saved by grace. The Lord gave Paul a clear understanding of the Gospel, and the fact that it wasn’t only for the Jews, but for all nations. It was not just to the Jews who were dispersed through all nations because of their failure, but to all people everywhere. That mystery is not only that there is good news from God, but that those who repent and believe the Gospel become members of His body. He is the “Head” and every believer is “body of Christ,” no matter what their background. This is no longer a hidden message to us, but to first century Jews it was hard to take at first.

All of God’s people called to Him by the Gospel, are neither Jews nor Gentiles but Church of God. Every child of God is equal before God. They are all “fellow heirs.” Each one is a fellow member of that body in which we have been placed by God. The child of God is a fellow partaker with all of God promises to those who are in Christ. The Gospel has crossed all barriers and in doing so has unfolded to our understanding that there are riches in Christ of which we been made partakers. The apostles were the first to proclaim the Gospel. Paul was the apostle to the Gentile nations, and now we have this stewardship. Paul was chosen to do the work at the beginning and to give the contents of the Gospel message. It is our responsibility to maintain the integrity of that message in our preaching, and promote it wherever we can. This was hidden to the people of Israel and those of the nations, but through the stewardship of the apostle Paul, it has been made known. It is up to us today to make sure this unadulterated message reaches to as many as we can.

The importance of this was not lost to Paul, and enlightened the Gentiles of which the Ephesian believers were a part. But it goes way beyond that to where the Gospel message teaches angels who are aware if what is happening on earth, truths about the wisdom of God. Through the things God has taught us in the church, angelic authorities are learning the variety, the multi-sided wisdom of God. They can see for themselves the recovery of divine headship that they lost. Some of them rebelled against God and what God intended for them they forfeited. Even the first humans lost the blessings of submitting to divine headship when they disobeyed God. Now that divine intention is seen in the church. Locally it is seen when there is submission of citizens to governing authority. It is seen in homes when husbands assume responsibility for the affairs of the family as God has appointed them. In the local assembly it is seen when the men remove their head coverings at the gathering of God’s people, and the women cover their personal glory with a head covering so attention is directed towards the Lord. Angels see all of this and can learn the variegated multiplicity of God’s wisdom.

None of this was an after thought on God’s part. This had been planned as part of His purposes through all the ages. God had intended that between the calling out of Israel from the nations to be a chosen earthly people for Him, and the time they would finally understand their responsibility to the Messiah, there would be this time when He would “call out” His church. Our position in God’s plan is best described as a bride to her husband. He is the Head of the body and the church shares life and labor and glory with Him. Close fellowship and harmony combine to unify the life of the body. Being “called out” is the basis of our gathering. God has done this through His Gospel. Being “gathered out” is the demonstration of what it means to be called out.

“The Christ” and His church has been revealed. That which was hidden is now known. Believers from all nations form this church. Angels observe this and learn from us in a way similar to what we learn from Israel’s past; “All these things that happened unto them (Israel) for ensamples: and they were written for our admonition.” These things have come to pass by the Gospel message being preached telling of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. This diversion is a wonderful explanation of how God is working today in the nations, and why our labor for Him is significant. The church of God is being built as a result of the work of the Gospel.

It has happened, a chosen called out people are saved by grace alone.
To many they have experienced the fact, but don’t know how it was done
In a way that does not set one culture, nation or person above another –
God has opened the door to His household, that we, in Christ, are sisters and brothers.

It was first proclaimed by those who had seen the risen Lord personally.
Now this truth has spread world-wide that this grace extends universally
To all who will know and believe “the Christ,” are part of one great whole.
The church is a growing organism with all the senses of the body and soul.

Through this great mystery unfolded for our understanding has come this defining truth –
God wants all the families of men and angels to know what is happening here on earth.
A growing body, a building, a temple is being made for God’s personal habitation.
Angels and all authorities and powers will see the lasting result of His salvation.

For the ages past, the present and in the unfolding ages yet to come –
There has been, is and will be seen in beauty – the church, the bride God gave His Son.
He purchased it Himself with the blood of His own, so as human and divine –
He claims the great company of those redeemed to be His bride, “These,” saith He, “Are mine.”

It is not with pride or even false humility that we can say that we are His.
The whole mystery unfolds beginning with the Gospel of God’s redeeming grace.
The Gospel to the nations has, and is, putting on display the manifold wisdom of God.
We who live on redemption ground experience the blessing of promises in His Word.

“O Righteous Father, it is easy to see why Paul turned on to the side of the road, as it were, when he was going to pray for the Ephesians, because he never forgot the magnificence and the glory of the Gospel. It is a public declaration of the limitless extent of Thy wisdom. It is also the message of deliverance of which we who are in the body of Christ need to be reminded. May we never take for granted that one of the purposes of the church is to make known Thy manifold wisdom. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.”

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