Throughout the book of Ephesians God describes the nature and function of the church. Paul does this in broad generalities that are applied to His people, His called out ones. In the previous post, the focus was on the revelation given by God to Paul that both Jews and Gentiles have been reconciled to God through the death of His Son Jesus Christ. He continues with the wonderful good news that Jesus Christ has made the way for Gentiles to be fellow heirs and partakers of the promise that is in Christ through the gospel.
5 …which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. 8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. Ephesians 3:5-12
Jesus Christ came to redeem the nation of Israel. In the Old Testament there are allusions to the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s plan of salvation, but initially the Jews did not anticipate that God had sent His Son as Savior of the Gentiles also, although it is referred to in the gospels.
29 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation 31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, 32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel.” Luke 2:29-32
When Peter shared the gospel with the centurion and those with him, and they believed the gospel, Peter saw the Holy Spirit descend upon these Gentile believers as He had upon the Jews. When the apostles in Jerusalem learned that Peter had “gone with the Gentiles” there was consternation in the Jewish camp. However, after Peter told the story from beginning to end of how the Gentiles had believed the gospel and received the Holy Spirit, the Jewish believers then realized that God was including Gentiles in His work of salvation. (Acts chapters 10 and 11) This early inclusion of the Gentiles with the church was reported by the apostles and the prophets as they wrote the very Word of God.
16 “Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 “If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” 18 When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” Acts 11:16-18
This mystery of inclusion of the Gentiles with the nation of Israel in God’s plan of salvation was the basis of Paul’s ministry. Paul rejoiced in this work given to him by God, and humbly served his Savior in lovingly, powerfully bringing the gospel message to the Gentiles without thought for himself but with every concern and care for the glory of his God and the blessing of his beloved Gentile believers. He did this work effectively by the power of God’s grace working through him. Paul’s service for God to the church represents what every pastor or preacher should be striving for, humbly serving Jesus Christ by the grace and power of God in obedience to His calling upon their lives, only concerned with the glory of God and the blessing of His people. To do otherwise is to betray our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The Gentiles being heirs of salvation and members of the church displays the manifold wisdom of God to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. God’s salvation of mankind shows forth His great wisdom because in His matchless mercy and grace He sent forth His Son Jesus Christ to be the Savior of the world and to open the way for all who believe to be reconciled to Him. God the Father was reconciling the world to Himself through Jesus Christ His Son who has made the way for His children, all of us, to come before Him in bold confidence because of our faith in Him. The church is on display for God’s glory and our reliance upon Him shows forth His excellence. Any other purpose embraced by believers thwarts God’s purposes and dispels the glory of God.
13 Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. 14 For this reason I bow my knees to 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 through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:13-21
The church gives glory to God the Father through Jesus Christ as we are strengthened by His Spirit through the inner man that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith and that by being rooted and grounded in love comprehend with all the saints the overwhelming magnitude of Christ’s love and through this experiential knowledge be filled with the fullness of God. We as the church give glory to God the Father as we believe that God will powerfully answer this prayer for knowing Jesus Christ and His love, so that we can love and serve one another as His beloved family. God’s church is filled with Him and walks in His love for His glory and praise. To be other than what is described in this passage is to undermine the work of God in the life of His church.
1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. Ephesians 5:1-2
Heavenly Father, may we as Your called out ones live for Your praise and glory. May we abound in love to You and one another. May Your love permeate our hearts and minds for our blessing and the glory of Your name. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen!