Paul begins chapter 3 of Ephesians with the statement, "For this reason." In writing to the Ephesian believers, who are Gentiles, Paul has reminded them that they were "far off" but had been "brought near," not by their efforts but rather through the blood of Christ. Faith, the willingness to believe and be persuaded in Christ, is foundational to our salvation. The Church of Christ, His Body, is made up of both Jews and Gentiles who have access to the Father through the blood of Christ. Paul emphasizes over and over that this takes place through faith, not works. The Church is established as a new entity. Paul, as a Jew, is encouraging the Gentile believers of their oneness with the saints in spite of having once been estranged or "far off." All of this takes place through faith in Christ and His work at the cross, namely the shedding of His blood as a perfect sacrifice for man's sins.
Paul now begins to explain his insight into the mystery of Christ. Both Jew and Gentile are one in Christ through faith. The Gentiles are fellow heirs, members, and partakers in Christ Jesus through the Gospel (vs. 6). The promises that had been given to the Jewish people are now available to the Gentiles as well as salvation through the work of Christ. The Church, the called out ones, is a result of the work of Christ and God's revealing of the mystery of Christ.
There are a couple of words used through the first ten verses of chapter three that are worth noting. What does "mystery" mean? When we speak of a mystery, the implied idea is that it can be figured out. If we have enough clues, then it is simply a matter of putting our mind to the problem and solving the equation. Not in this matter. The word "mystery" here has the idea of something that has been divinely hidden. Man has no ability to "figure out" what God has not revealed. Here Paul is writing to the Ephesian believers encouraging them that they are part of a glorious revelation. This mystery has now been revealed to the apostles and prophets "in the Spirit." The word "in" here literally means "by the means of the Spirit." The Church of God is the revelation of a mystery. Only God could make this known and accomplish this.
A second word worth noting is actually a preposition. The word "fellow", meaning "with", is used several times regarding the Gentiles' position within the Church and "in Christ" (see vs. 6). This preposition indicates a bringing together that which is inseparable. There are times we are "with" one another but then leave to participate in other activities. The use of the word "with" in this sense is the "with" of association. However, the "with" that Paul uses in this verse indicates an inseparable relationship and has the idea of permanence. It is incredible to realize that as Gentiles, we are "in Christ." We are now fellow heirs, members and partakers (sharers) in the body of Christ, the Church. "Fellow" indicating what is inseparable, or permanently together-Amen!
This mystery of Christ and His body is one that the Lord alone is able to reveal, and He has done so by the means of the Spirit. Paul makes it clear that he has been called to preach this mystery of the riches of Christ to the Gentiles. This mystery, which has been hidden "in God" (vs. 9) but is now brought to light through Christ, is now being made known through the Church into all of the created realms. This includes the demonic realms and extends even into the heavenly places (vs. 10).
The fact is truly a majestic revelation: that all peoples, specifically the Gentiles, were once enslaved to these demonic powers (see chapter 2:1 ff), under the prince of the power of the air, but now in Christ have been freed, becoming through the power of God members of His body, the Church. No wonder Paul is awed and humbled that this grace has been given to him, the least of all the saints (vs. 8) to proclaim to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ.
The Church, those saved by faith in Christ, is now the means by which the manifold wisdom of God is "made known" to the heavenly places. Are we, as His Church, proclaiming and making known God's wisdom through the transforming ability of Christ? Are we following the Lord in every way, revealing His life in and through us? A life that is fully surrendered to Him is the only life in which this revelation is made known. What a joy to know that we have entered into a permanent relationship with Christ and one another, by the means of His work. Is the revelation of the mystery of Christ being revealed in you and through you as you follow Him today?
Erik Christensen is senior pastor of Hoffmantown Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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