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Title: Ephesians– overview of 3:1-9;The Secret of the Ages.

length: 84:07 - taught on Jul, 28 2019
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Class Outline:

Sunday July, 28th 2019

EPH 3:1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles — 


Paul begins another prayer, but interrupts it (starts again in vs. 14) in order to relate the mystery of Christ.


One might imagine that as the words, “the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles” enveloped the apostle’s mind, the reality of why he was a prisoner rushed in upon him, and the prayer was broken off for a time.


EPH 3:2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace which was given to me for you;


“if indeed you have heard” - there were some who would read this letter with whom Paul was not acquainted.


Stewardship (Greek: oikonomia, literally “house law”) refers to the management of a household. God by grace gave to Paul the management and administration of the affairs regarding the church to the Gentiles, and in specific, the mystery that is Christ.


God’s grace is given to the world in the gospel.


Yet, Paul is not here referring to the grace given to him in being called as an apostle, but the grace given to the world through the historical accomplishments of Jesus Christ, which in essence is the grace given to the world through the gospel.


The gospel is more than words. It is the life, death, resurrection, ascension, and session of Jesus Christ and what that work has given to mankind.


EPH 3:3 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.


“as I wrote before in brief” - referring either to EPH 1:9-10 or the letter to the Colossians (1:25-27), which they might have already had.


COL 4:16And when this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea[could very well be Ephesians].


EPH 3:1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles — 


EPH 3:2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace which was given to me for you;


EPH 3:3 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.


EPH 3:4 And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,


When you read, the Holy Spirit will lead you into understanding, the same insight that Paul himself has. This shows us that Paul, through the Spirit, was able to write it all out. He left nothing secret, and by reading his letters, we too can understand the mystery of Christ with the same insight as the apostle. That doesn’t mean that we’ll know everything about Christ, but only as much as Paul did. After a lifetime of apostolic service Paul still could not plumb the depths of Christ’s mystery, but what he could see, we can see also.


“the mystery of Christ” - the unseen God revealed in Christ and disclosed by Him.


EPH 3:5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;


“not made known” - before the church it was not known that Jew and Gentile would be together, without Law, as fellow heirs of Christ, members of His body, and full partners of all of the promises made that would be fulfilled in Him.


And, not by works, but by faith in the gospel. Without any dividing wall, the Mosaic Law fulfilled and put away, Jew and Gentile would possess the reality of the New Covenant in Jesus’ blood.


We can understand why Paul, when his mind becomes fixated on the reason that he is a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of the Gentiles, that he would pause his prayer and insert these words. They are frankly the most astounding words that the world has ever heard.


Yet, how many Christians read through these words and feel nothing astounding? There is a danger in hearing them often without understanding. They become common and mundane, and only for the reason that they are not understood to the level of insight that existed in Paul when he wrote them. They must not be gobbled up like a common lunch.


All of the promises from Abraham, through Moses, through the prophets, through the writers like Solomon’s many proverbs and love poetry; and Joshua and Samuel’s history; and David’s poetry - all are now fulfilled to us through Jesus Christ.


Perhaps it is because some Christians don’t know the Torah, the writings, and the prophets that they just shrug their shoulders Paul’s sentence, EPH 3:1-13.


The mystery of Christ is the reality of fulfillment of what had been promised from long ages past. It is not something brand new.


The claims of the NT are based on the OT. If the OT is in doubt then the NT has nothing to stand on.


What question we must answer is, does the OT really embody such a hope of a universal spiritual kingdom of God upon earth through the Messiah, as the NT writers saw fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth; or is this view of the OT only a later gloss put upon it by Christianity? 


The OT in its different parts is obviously organically connected and pushes towards the same end, which is that of a universal kingdom of God upon earth and a King to rule it. 


Prior to the coming of Christ, much of God and His purpose was a mystery. They had an outline, a shadow, a faint picture of what God purposed to do, but when Christ came, the picture became crystal clear. Christianity is the fulfillment of what had been promised from long ages past. There is still much more to come, but the fulfillment of much of God’s promises began to be fulfilled in our age, and therefore fulfilled in you and me. We are the pilot so to speak.


In this section we will be looking at many passages like this one:


JER 23:1 "Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!" declares the Lord.


JER 23:2 Therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: "You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds," declares the Lord.


JER 23:3 "Then I Myself shall gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and shall bring them back to their pasture; and they will be fruitful and multiply.


JER 23:4 "I shall also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing," declares the Lord.


JER 23:5 "Behold, the days are coming," declares the Lord,

"When I shall raise up for David a righteous Branch;

And He will reign as king and act wisely

And do justice and righteousness in the land.


JER 23:6 "In His days Judah will be saved,

And Israel will dwell securely;

And this is His name by which He will be called,

'The Lord our righteousness.'


JER 23:7 "Therefore behold, the days are coming," declares the Lord, "when they will no longer say, 'As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt,'


JER 23:8 but, 'As the Lord lives, who brought up and led back the descendants of the household of Israel from the north land and from all the countries where I had driven them.' Then they will live on their own soil."


Imagine Jeremiah in the midst of a reprobate Judah; the Northern Kingdom is gone and the Lord has told you that the Southern Kingdom is soon to follow. You love Israel because you love the Lord and you speak to all that you can, daily standing in the court of the temple loudly proclaiming all that God told you to say, the priests and the leadership hear you, but they laugh at you, threaten you, and dismiss you as a lunatic and fanatic. The king of Judah only wanted Jeremiah’s death.


God told Jeremiah to have all the words written down. The king got hold of that scroll and burned it. God then told Jeremiah to write another scroll with even more words. Nothing will stop the purpose of God. All the evil men and angels in the world cannot stop it.


So we conclude that there is one grand purpose that connects all of human history, and God says so.  


ISA 46:8 "Remember this, and be assured;

Recall it to mind, you transgressors.


ISA 46:9 "Remember the former things long past,

For I am God, and there is no other;

I am God, and there is no one like Me,


ISA 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning

And from ancient times things which have not been done,

Saying, 'My purpose will be established,

And I will accomplish all My good pleasure';


ISA 46:11 Calling a bird of prey from the east,

The man of My purpose from a far country.

Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass.

I have planned it, surely I will do it.


God speaks to our level of understanding as slaves to time. Purpose and planning are words of future hope, yet the fulfillment of God’s “hope” is never in question.


Yet, the thinking man who knows of God’s essence, which all of us should, knows that “purpose” is not a word that should be used of God in its strictest sense. The word implies a reference to the future with a view of acting upon it in a definite manner. Strictly speaking we cannot associate a future with a Divine Being, the Alpha and Omega, who knows the end from the beginning, predestines, and foreknows. Nor yet the word planning, for planning implies uncertainty about the future and adaptation to its eventualities. Nothing is uncertain for God.

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