Bible Book: Ephesus 3

An extensive parenthesis. 

 1 For this cause I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles— This beginning of the chapter is resumed in the first verse of the next chapter. Before resuming the apostle has given a parenthesis in this chapter, going on till the end of it. The apostle did not mean to say that he was a prisoner for Christ’s sake, but that he, the prisoner, wanted to urge them….. What he had to say, he interrupted with the parenthesis, beginning in verse 2. What he originally wanted to say after verse 1 we have in chapter 4. 
 A mystery with relation to Christ.  
2 if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me towards you, 3 how by revelation He made known unto me the mystery (as I wrote before a few words on this, 4 whereby when ye read this, ye may understand my knowledge of the mystery of Christ), 5 which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: The apostle Paul had a special commission, a task with relation to a mystery that God had hidden in Himself. It was a mystery re the gentiles and had not been revealed in past ages. So it cannot be found in the Old Testament, nor in the early preaching of the other apostles before Paul had been called. God revealed that mystery to Paul and via him the other apostles of course learned about it. In the epistle to the Romans the apostle shortly wrote something about that mystery with the following words: 25 Now to Him who has the power to establish you according to my Gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began 26 but now is made manifest, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: 27 to God alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.

(Romans 16:25-27)

 That epistle has been written before the apostle has been imprisoned. So it is not correct, what some pretend, that Paul received those revelations no sooner than during his captivity. In his epistle to the Romans the apostle presented Jew and gentile as equal in guilt before God and pictured for both the same way to redemption by faith in Jesus Christ, which was in complete agreement with the revelation about which he wrote in chapter 3 of the epistle to the Ephesians. His equalizing Jew and gentile being difficult to understand and accept for the Jewish Christians, he added chapters 9, 10 and 11 in his epistle to the Romans, in which he exposed how the position of Israel ought to be seen and what the future of that people would be.In his epistle to the Colossians he mentioned the revelation of the mystery as well: 26 the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints. 27 To them God would make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:26, 27). The next verses in Ephesians 3 tell us what the mystery was: 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the Gospel. 7 For this I was made a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power. That Christians have been made heirs, the apostle had written in 1:11 and in verse 18. But in the above verses he emphasized that gentile believers were no less heirs and partakers of the promises in Christ, and in no way had an inferior position compared with Jewish believers.
The passages cited from the epistles to the Romans and to the Colossians likewise speak of the gentiles in relation to the mystery. So we can say that Paul mentioned it three times and three times told us, that it relates to the gentiles. For us, believers among the gentiles, it is no new or strange thing that our position is not inferior and that our blessings are equal to those of Jewish believers. For the Jews however that has not been self evident at all. What the apostle wrote could open the eyes for the error of the assertion that keeping the law could bring gentile Christians to a higher level. In Colossians 1;27 the mystery is called “Christ in you, the hope of glory”. That helps to understand what is implied in the promise in Christ Jesus in verse 6, namely that they who know Christ by faith, have Him as their life, and therefore partake in all that God gives Him and will give Him. 8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ, The apostle called himself less than the least of all saints. In 1 Timothy 1:15 he wrote that he was the chief of sinners and he likewise called himself the least of the apostles. In this case he put himself on one level with other believers, but then as the least of them, because not the greatness or importance of any Christian, but the unmeasurable riches of Christ ought to get all attention. Opposite to the privileges and promises of Israel there are the unsearchable riches of Christ, which is the richness of the church, of which gentile believers fully partake. The position of Israel and the promises for them are another thing, which does not influence the riches of Christ. It is quite true that the gentiles did not partake of the promises for Israel, but our portion in Christ is not part of them. It is on the contrary much more. How could the happiness, the richness and the blessing of Asnath, the wife of Joseph, be inferior to the position and destination of his brothers or depend on them? So the blessing, the richness and the happiness of the church and of any Christian cannot be compared with the promises for Israel, nor be dependent on them. And every Jew who is a Christian by being that knows blessing, place and destination that beat all blessing of Israel. The door of Israel was closed for gentiles, but God made a wonderful opening and so made possible what the prophets of old never had heard about, that anyone believing in Jesus Christ can say “He is my life and my place is with Him and my blessings are by and in Him”. Heavenly, even divine riches are ours in Christ, of which the blessings in the “land which flowed with milk and honey” are only a poor illustration. What a mystery it is, of which the apostle wrote! 10 with the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known through the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He hath purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him. Angels and principalities in heavenly places no doubt have seen much of the greatness of God. They preached Gods praise when the Son had been born in the flesh. They desire to look into the glory that follows the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 1:12).

That desire the church can satisfy owing to the wisdom wherein He has abounded toward us (1:8), having made known to us the mystery of his will…(1:9). We can proclaim the wisdom of God in what we are and in what God has done to us and will do. They are things that had been hidden, but presented an eternal purpose of God. He made it a reality by

Jesus Christ and one of the wonders of it is, that we, originally guilty an reprehensible sinners, are allowed with boldness to go to God, access that is not mixed with doubt or fear, but with confidence by faith in Jesus Christ. 13 Therefore, I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which are your glory. 14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in Heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, 19 and to know the love of Christ, which surpasseth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.For some Christians in Ephesus it could be a problem, that the apostle was a prisoner in tribulation. Was that the future for a Christian? And what would be the compensation in due course, particularly if the position of a gentile believer would not be on the level of a Jewish believer? But seen the blessings and riches of every Christian, Jewish or gentile, they had no reason to be discouraged, for Paul, though being a prisoner, felt himself rich and happy by the knowledge of Christ, in whom for him as well all riches could be found. The oppressions were his portion because he preached the gospel, the message by which the Ephesians had believed as well. And that Paul persevered in preaching, in spite of the oppression, was proof of the greatness of his message; because they had believed by that same message, his oppressions were an honour to them. Paul prayed for them that they might receive power and more and more would realize that Christ through faith is living in our heart, in order He would not be a forgotten Guest in them, but could feel at home as in a house where love is foundation and strength. Where Christ makes his dwelling, there He will be better known, and will be better understood how great the richness of and in Christ is and how overwhelming is his love that can never be measured. To become full of that insight is to be filled to the fullness of God. That is a great thing and it is a pleasure to God to give it to all who are his. The apostle could thank God for it. The Lord may open our eyes for the greatness of that gift of God, that can fill our hearts to complete satisfaction, by which we shall be able to reject all vain glory and glitter of the world. God is groot in macht en krachten, God is great in power om te werken naar zijn raad to do according to his own will wat de hoop, wat de gedachten, what is beyond our hope, our het gebed te boven gaat. thoughts and our prayers. Hij zal in ons harte werken, He will work in our heart thatdat Gods Geest zijn kracht betoont, the Spirit shows his power in de liefde ons zal sterken, and strengthens us in love zodat Christus in ons woont. that Christ will abide in us. Hoogte, diepte, lengte, breedte, Heighth, depth, length, width, liefde Gods, doe ons voortaan love of God, let us fortwith in die liefde, niet te meten, stand in that unmeasurable en in Christus Jezus staan. love and in Christ Jesus. 

J. Ph. Buddingh