Ephesians 3: 1 – 6
This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, 3and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, 4a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. 5In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: 6that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Those who claim that Paul was not the author of Ephesians use this very personal passage as evidence, saying that it is a follower of Paul paying homage to all that he has done in his ministry, and they also point to the fact that the author seems not to know those to whom he is writing. Remember, Paul spent several years in Ephesus and knew the people there well. Others, however, say that it is Paul writing, although perhaps not to Ephesus, and establishing his credentials for those to whom he writes. My suggestion is, try thinking of it both ways: What does it say about Paul – whether he or a follower wrote it? What does it say about his message?
Regardless, it begins by saying Paul is a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of the Gentiles. Indeed, Paul’s troubles generally stemmed from the fact that he was taking the message of Christ to the Gentiles, rather than allowing the gospel to remain the property of the Jews, a sect of Judaism. Paul believed that he had been commissioned by Christ, through grace, for exactly that mission – taking the Gospel to the Gentiles. He calls this a mystery, which indeed it was up until then, for the Jews were certain that only they were God’s people, and all the Gentiles were shut out. Although some prophets spoke of God drawing all nations to him through his servant (Isaiah), the Hebrew people generally thought of the Messiah as a ruler who would bring them to power. Paul says the “mystery” was that God had planned all along to offer salvation to all through the love and grace offered in Christ Jesus.
The Holy Spirit has revealed this mystery, to his holy apostles, of whom Paul is one, and disciples. And that mystery is that the Gentiles are a part of the family! They are brought in through the promise of Jesus Christ in the gospel. They are heirs, and the promise of Christ is the inheritance.
Not many of us are Jewish in background and heritage. Therefore, when Paul, or his follower, speaks of the mystery revealed being the promise of Christ Jesus, who died for the Gentiles as well as the Jews – you and I are the recipients of that promise. We are inheritors of this grace, given us through Jesus Christ. And God used Paul as his apostle to spread this word.
I will be traveling later this week – to the lands where Paul traveled. I will send pictures if and when I can, and notes about what we are learning and seeing.