Ephesians 3 may be one of the most important passages in scripture for all of us who are not of Jewish descent. In these verses the Apostle Paul finally makes known the “mystery” that had been hidden from the time of the Old Testament covenant until the time of Christ. Paul clearly states that the gift of the Gospel was for all people including Gentiles. In fact, elsewhere Paul brilliantly shows us that this mystery is not something new that came as an addition, rather God had been working his purpose for Gentile inclusion into the family of God throughout the entirety of scripture beginning with Abraham.
Paul declares that the Gospel was preached to Abraham (Gal 3:8), that gentile inclusion was in fact promised through the prophets in the scriptures (Rom1:2), and that it was even observed and witnessed by the law and prophets (Rom 3:21). The language that Paul uses to describe the Gentile status with Jews and God’s “fellow heirs”. We join and partake in the very same blessing of the Gospel and enjoy the presence of the one who created us and sustains all things in Christ Jesus.
Paul then transitions by bringing our attention to that very truth. First, he starts by declaring himself “the very least of all saints” (v8a) and goes on to say “this grace was given”. This Greek word for “given” is in the passive tense which means that the subject is the receiver of the verbal action. Paul had no part in this grace being given but he received it and it radically transformed him. This theme of grace is saturated throughout this chapter (v2, v7-8, v8) and it’s repetition serves to help us see that gospel proclamation and enablement for ministry service can only truly be done within the context of the God’s overflowing grace.
Paul’s final thoughts all surround the work and power of Christ and he carefully comments and directs our thoughts and attention to this simple truth:
It is Christ who enables us with confidence and boldness (v12) and through Christ we have access to the father that we may be rooted and grounded in His love (v17).
Let’s Dig Deeper:
- This passage really brings the mystery of the OT and the work in the NT together by defining in (v6) that the purpose of God throughout all of human history was for Jew/Gentile inclusion. This reality is reinforced when we look at the family tree/genealogy of Jesus and see Gentiles (Rahab, Ruth) that are included in the family tree that lead to David and finally to Jesus.
- Paul is also showing that there needs to be unity amongst the believers of Christ, In Christ. This is seen with the usage of the prefix “together with” which describes the present status of Gentile Christians.
- “Prisoner of Christ Jesus” – This is language that comes from the context that Paul himself was in. As a prisoner of Rome he found himself in this position because of his own commitment and “bondage” to Christ. Here what the world would see as a horrible and sad scenario – Paul sees as a means of grace that is intentional for the purpose of the advancement of the gospel (Phil 1:12-17)
- The context and language surrounding gentile inclusion and their ability to enjoy the presence and relationship with God is reinforced with words and phrases that place an emphasis on just how grand, beautiful, boundless, and marvelous this gift was.