2 keynote sermon

Sunday October 14 "Mystery" Scott Justin

3:1–13 The Divine Mystery

After discussing the union of Jewish and Gentile believers in the church (2:11–22), Paul began to offer a prayer on their behalf (3:1). However, he stopped unexpectedly in the middle of the sentence and digressed on the subject of the divine mystery. He explained the meaning of the mystery and returned to his prayer in 3:14.

Paul was assured that his readers understood something about his unique ministry. He indicated this saying, “Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me” (v. 2). Paul described the details of his unique and privileged ministry in 3:3–12. The word “administration” that he used to refer to this ministry has the sense of a stewardship or trust to be shared (translated “trust” in 1 Cor 9:17 and “commission” in Col 1:25). Paul was to administer God’s grace, which had been granted to him, particularly to the Gentiles.

The apostle identified the unique aspect of his ministry as a “mystery” in 3:6. A mystery is something previously concealed but now made known in the gospel. In 1:9 “mystery” spoke of God’s purpose of gathering together all things under the headship of Christ. In chapter 3 it refers to one aspect of that ultimate goal, the inclusion of Gentiles in the blessings of the gospel and the terms on which this is done.

Paul then moved another step in verses 7–12 to declare his unique role as a minister of the good news of salvation to the Gentiles. His service was carried out in the church in the service of the gospel. The church is the agency of the divine mission. Thus the church is central to history, to the gospel, and to Christian living.

Holman Bible Handbook

Paul’s unique privilege 3:1–13

At this stage in his argument Paul introduces himself, and explains his unique personal role in God’s purpose for the Gentiles. It is not for nothing that he has come to be known as ‘the apostle to the Gentiles’.

  1. The divine revelation to Paul, or the mystery made known to him (verses 1–6)
  2. The divine commission to Paul or the ministry entrusted to him (verses 7–13)
    1. The privileged ministry of spreading the gospel, entrusted to him by the grace of God, he now elaborates in three stages:
      1. Making known Christ’s riches to the Gentiles (verse 8)
      2. Making known the mystery to all men (verse 9)
      3. Making known God’s wisdom to the cosmic powers (verse 10)
  3. Conclusion: The major lesson taught by this first half of Ephesians 3 is the biblical centrality of the church. Some people construct a Christianity which consists entirely of a personal relationship to Jesus Christ and has virtually nothing to do with the church. Others make a grudging concession to the need for church membership, but add that they have given up the ecclesiastical institution as hopeless. . .. But we need to beware lest we despise the church of God, and are blind to his work in history.  . . And if God has not abandoned it, how can we? It has a central place in his plan.
    1. The church is central to history
    2. The church is central to the gospel
    3. The church is central to Christian living