Our passage today is Ephesians Chapter 3 verses 1 to 13.
The apostle Paul appears to start something revealing that he is a prisoner because of his faith in Christ, but then goes off on a tangent which ends with him urging his readers not to be discouraged about his sufferings (v.13).
The “tangent” is an expansion of what he was saying at the end of Chapter 2 about Jews and Gentiles being brought together in Christ. Here he calls it a “mystery” (the word is mentioned 4 times in this short passage), which wasn’t previously known or understood (vs.3-5).It is described most clearly in v.6, ‘This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promises of Christ.’
Two other quick things to note.Firstly Paul’s humility and a sense of unworthiness that he has the responsibility and privilege to make this mystery known (vs.7-9).And secondly, that the church (with all its faults and weaknesses) is God’s vehicle for showing His manifold wisdom to the spiritual rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms (vs.10-11), which is quite a thought.
Now, similar to what I said last time, this passage seems far less of a mystery because we are used to Gentiles being part of the church, indeed most of the worldwide church is made up of Gentiles and not those of Jewish ethnicity. However, the hope of the gospel is still there that anyone from any background (Jew or Gentile) can come to Christ and His cross, and together be part of God’s people and therefore heirs of his great and gracious promises.
And as we were hearing from Derek yesterday as he spoke from 1 Corinthians, perhaps for us today a bigger application might be to focus our thinking that there is still ONE church with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone and with ONE Holy Spirit, whatever our race, skin colour, culture, gender, economic status or denomination. That perhaps is an up-to-date demonstration of this mystery that Church on the Heath, or any other local church, and indeed the one true church across the world and across time, is ‘all one in Christ Jesus’.
At times it may not seem like this, but that is God’s aim and purpose, which is continually being worked out.
In our cycle of prayer, let us remember today in our prayers,- Pat & Catherine- Jotham and Jethro