About Jesus   - Steve Sweetman

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Chapters 3 

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ch. 4:1-13    ch. 4:14-21

Paul, The Preacher To The Gentiles (3:1 Ė 13)

In verse one Paul reminds the Ephesians that he is in prison on their account. He is in prison because of preaching the gospel which was mainly to the Gentiles.

"The administration of Godís grace that was given me" (ch. 3:2) means that God gave Paul a special ability to perform his special calling. Remember there are two definitions of grace found in the Bible. One definition is Godís unmerited favour (we donĎt deserve His grace). The other definition is the God given ability that we have to do what He wants you to do.

God gave Paul the job of administering His grace to others. This means that Paul was a manager and a distributor of Godís grace to anyone who would want it. To a smaller extent we are all "administrators" of Godís grace.

We must realize that God gave a very special job to Paul. God called him to be the apostle to the Gentiles. In giving this job to Paul, He also gave Paul great revelations, that apparently were not given to just anyone.

Paul said that God revealed to him a mystery that was hidden in ages past. He has special "insight into the mystery of Christ" (ch. 3:4). And what is this mystery? This mystery is that "through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and share together in the promise in Christ Jesus". (ch.3:5-6)

Concerning who was given this revelation, Paul points out that the apostles and prophets were the ones who received it. This was a new idea to the Jews, that is the Gentiles could be part of Godís people. Yet this is what God promised Abraham long ago. He promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. The Gentiles coming into Godís family fulfills this promise which came true in Jesus Christ.

Paul says that he became a servant of the gospel because of Godís power. Paul uses the Greek word "doulos" which means bond servant, or one who is a servant by choice, not by force. The type of duties that Paul carried out could only be carried out by the power of God. He could not have lived his life without Godís Spirit and power. It was way to hard.

Paul believes that he is "less than the least of Godís people" (ch. 3:8). Whether he really was the least of the least or not, his accepting the role of a servant has made him one of the greatest Christians ever.

In verse 9 Paul repeats himself as he often does. He refers to this mystery "which from ages past has been hidden in God". Yet it is no longer hidden. It was Paulís job to declare to everyone this mystery.

Verse 10 is very interesting. It says, "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". There is a lot in this verse.

Paul says in the above verse that it is Godís intent to use the church to show his manifold wisdom "to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms". We often think that God uses the church to reach out to the world, but in this verse Paul is not talking about the world. He is talking about making Godís wisdom known to the "rulers in the heavenly realms", which refers to rulers of darkness.

As Paul will say later, our battle is not just with people of this world, but with evil spiritual rulers in heavenly places. Our job is a spiritual job. It is not just an earthly job. Our job has real spiritual implications. There is a whole spiritual world that seems to elude many of us as Christians. If this is the case then we are missing out when it comes to doing the work of the Lord. I think from reading these verses we are too worldly in our thinking. By this I mean, there is a whole spiritual realm that we miss so often, whether it is a good or evil spiritual world. We have the Holy Spirit within us in order to bring us into this invisible world. This is where the battle really takes place. If we are never in this spiritual world, then we are not fully doing the work of our Lord.

In verse 12 Paul says because of Jesus and our trust in Him "we have freedom and confidence" to approach God. Because of Jesus we are free, and we should feel quite confident in this freedom to come to God, to ask of Him, and to simply be with Him. Because of this Paul tells the Ephesians to not feel bad about his sufferings. Because of Paulís sufferings these Ephesians are experiencing Godís glory in a very real way.

 

A Prayer For The Ephesians (ch. 3:14-21)

In these verses Paul says that he "kneels before the Father" and prays that the Ephesians would be "strengthened with power through the Spirit in their inner being". Here Paul speaks once again about our inner being where the Holy Spirit lives. It is here that we can enter into the Kingdom of God and see into the spiritual world around us. Paul prays this prayer so that "Christ may dwell in your hearts". (ch. 3:17)

Now Paul wants these people to be strengthened so that "Christ might dwell in them". Well, I thought that if these people were Christians, Christ would already be dwelling in them. That is correct. When we become a Christian, the Spirit of God makes his abode within us. Yet as we trust Jesus more, and as more of His power is in our inner being, Jesus can "occupy more of our lives". I remember as a child a Sunday School teacher telling us that we needed to let Jesus into every room of our lives. This is what Paul is talking about here. He is not saying that the Ephesians didnít already have the Holy Spirit. He is saying that Jesus, through His Spirit should occupy every room of their lives.

Paul continues to pray that the Ephesians, along with all of the saints could somehow begin to comprehend the vastness of Godís love. He prays that they ccould "know His love that surpasses knowledge". This seems to be illogical. How can one know something that canít be known?

God, and all that makes Him who He is, including His love is so far beyond human imagination that it is impossible for us to know Him in all of His fullness. Yet, to a degree we can know His love in our experience with Him. We can experience His love. We can benefit from His love. We can grow in the knowledge of His love. Yet knowing all of His love will elude us.

The goal of knowing His love is so that we can "be filled with the measure of all the fullness of God". As much as it is possible within our humanity, Paul says that we should be filled with God himself, at least in a measure.

Verses 20 and 21 is a little doxology. Sometimes Paul does this, as he did at the end of chapter 11 of Romans. He makes some majestic statements of God as if he were closing his letter, when in fact he doesnít close his letter. He is simply changing directions.

He says. "now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or thinkÖ" Of course, we have already mention the point that God is so far beyond us that we canít know all there is to God. So it only makes sense that He can do more than we can imagine. And it is not only that He can do more, but He will do more. We have all of eternity to see God do what He wants to do. We have no idea what that will be. The endless creative nature of God will never run dry.

Yet with the understanding that His great power will do more than we can imagine, we have this power at work within us. Sometimes you may wonder if we actually do have this power working within us. At least we can say that we have this power that can work within us when we allow that to happen, when we trust Jesus for all things.

Paul closes this chapter by saying, "to Him be glory in the church and in Christ through all generationsÖ" We can surely see Godís glory in Jesus, yet at the same time it is Godís will that His glory be seen in the church. I am sure that more of Godís glory could be seen in the church, but as yet our divisions cloud His glory. Some day this will not be the case. When Christ comes back for His Bride, the church will be glorious.

 

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