WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16
SCRIPTURE: Ephesians 3
AUTHOR: Jeremy Witt
Thank you for the prayers for myself, my family, and the Cooke family. I am reminded that this world is not our home and that this is temporary. Some days make me wish for the eternal days ahead even more.
As we begin chapter 3, Paul reminds us in verse 1 that he is a prisoner, but he changes things up by stating that he is a “prisoner of Christ Jesus.” Yes, Paul is under house arrest in Rome for proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah. He broke Roman law by declaring one God. Paul knew the consequences but his allegiance was to Christ alone. There may be times in the coming days where we must decide if we will obey the laws of man or obey the laws of God.
Many times throughout Scripture, it refers to being a prisoner or slave but has a different meaning in that it is done willingly or by choice. In the Old Testament, a slave whose time of service was up could decide to remain with their owner by putting an earring in their ear. This was done willingly and bound them to the owner for the remainder of their life. The key is that it is done by choice and not forced upon the person. Paul identifies with this mentality by stating that he is a prisoner by choice to Christ Jesus. He is not only Savior but his Lord and Master.
In verses 2-9, Paul addresses his call to the Gentiles, that is anyone who is not a Jew which essentially means everyone else. That was a God-given call and Paul viewed it as a special calling or “stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you” (NASB).
“As you read this chapter, you will find several references to something called a “mystery”. In the Bible, a mystery is not something that can’t be known. It is something that is not known yet. It is, in many ways, like a sacred secret. But this particular mystery has been made known to us through the Holy Spirit inspiring Paul to write these words.
In verse 6, we discover that this mystery is about Gentiles. Galatians 3:28 says that from God’s perspective there is neither Jew nor Gentile. That doesn’t mean that He doesn’t know who has Jewish ancestry and who doesn’t. It means that our ancestry doesn’t matter to Him. In God, through Jesus, we have a new identity in Christ. We are children of the one, true God.
The notion of Gentiles being included in the family of God is not actually new. In the Old Testament, we read about how those of non-Jewish ancestry could be included in Jewish life. What is new now, however, is that God is putting Jews and Gentiles into one body (V. 6) that we know as the church.” – written by Joe Ligon
This mystery is not only for us, but it carries over into the spiritual dimension as we see in verse 10. Those rulers and authorities in the heavenly places are referring to angels and demons alike. Things like grace, forgiveness, salvation, free will, transformation, and sanctification are unique to mankind. When we gather to praise the LORD, we are watched by not only other people but also by angels and demons. Remember in James that it read that the demons believe in God and even shudder. However, they are not able to be forgiven or to be saved. The idea of grace is a mystery. How God could save people who do all sorts of wrong against God is foreign to these heavenly authorities. They watch in amazement. Notice how God makes known this mystery. It is through the Church based solely on what the Lord Jesus did as stated in verse 11.
It is by our faith in Jesus that we can have boldness and courage. It is by Jesus that we can come to Him in prayer and praise (verses 12-14). Even when suffering and persecution comes (verse 13), we are given far more from our Savior (verse 16 and following). Notice verse 17 tells us that Christ dwells in our hearts through faith and keeps us strong. Verse 18 tells us that through Jesus we can understand others and how big His love is for us. If you look at me, you can sit amazed and wonder how could God ever love that guy? If God can love him, He can surely love me.
How amazing is God? We can have Christ in our hearts, we can have boldness and courage, we can be a part of His Church, we can be made complete, and we can do far more through Him and by Him in our lives than we ever could all by ourselves. This can cause us to praise Him even more.
So, the next time you settle into your seat at church, stop for a moment. Remember. There literally are angels watching over you trying to figure all of this out. That is a mystery! Yet we can be a part of it.