Ephesians 3:1-13

The Greatest Mystery Ever Told

This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 3:6

Good mystery writers reveal enough clues so that when the climax of the story comes, the reader says, “yes!” not “where did that come from?” Authors can’t make the ending obvious by revealing too much information. And they include information that could lead readers to wrong conclusions. Astute readers detect the foreshadowing, but they can’t determine exactly how the mystery will be resolved.

When the Bible uses the word mystery, it refers to a truth of God foreshadowed but not completely revealed. What is the mystery in Ephesians 3? The gospel is for both Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews). They are heirs together, members of one body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:6).

As far back as Abraham, God promised to bless the whole earth through Abraham’s seed  (Genesis 12:7, 13:15). David was told that one of his offspring would rule a forever kingdom (2 Samuel 7:16). Later, God revealed more information to Daniel when he interpreted the dream of a Gentile king, Nebuchadnezzar: a rock cut out of a mountain without human hands would become a kingdom filling the whole earth (Daniel 2:44-45). But how could this happen?

God revealed more of the mystery to Paul as a gift of grace and called him to take the gospel to the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:7-8). The mystery will continue to unfold with “the Church,” a group of people that  includes you and me. Through us, “the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:10-11). The word manifold means “much variegated, marked with a great variety of colours.”* The great variety in the Church will become one people.

God foreshadowed the resolution of the mystery in John’s vision of a motley group who will one day stand praising Jesus Christ—Abraham’s seed, David’s heir, and Daniel’s rock. Jesus is also the Lamb who was slain, and with His blood, He “purchased for God persons from “every nation, tribe, people and language” (Revelation 7:9).

Can you picture yourself saying “yes!” in the midst of that great crowd of people as you witness the resolution of the greatest mystery ever told?

DIG DEEPER:

Paul said that the revelation of the mystery of the church in Christ would reveal God’s manifold wisdom to angels: “rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” Who else wanted to know the solution to the mystery according to 1 Peter 1:10-12?

Paul was not the only one who shared the gospel with Gentiles. Who presented the gospel and who was the audience in Acts 8:27-39 and in Acts 10:44-48? Who presented the gospel to you?

What does Paul say about his ministry in Ephesians 2:10 and 3:7-9? How did God get the gospel to the Romans through Paul (Ephesians 3:1, 6:20 and Philippians 1:12-14)? Where has God given you a ministry?

 Nancy J. Baker

* “Greek Lexicon :: G4182 (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 12 May, 2015. http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4182&t=KJV

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