Ephesians 3:6 NLT - "And this is God's plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God's children. Both are part of the same body and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus."
Paul expands on what he spoke of in Chapter One that God's plan was to unite all believers into one body whether they were Jews or Gentiles. And Paul especially emphasizes the Gentiles because they are the ones to whom Paul was called to preach. He was letting them know that the salvation the Jews enjoyed was the same salvation for the Gentiles. And, therefore, the inheritance that came as a result of that salvation is the same inheritance the Gentiles can enjoy. What we today need to understand is that for the Gentiles of Paul's day to hear this was beyond belief! They were awestruck that they would have the privilege that only the "chosen ones," the Jews, could enjoy. And further, the Jews were astounded that God was able to save the Gentiles. To the Jews, the Gentiles were beyond hope and could never be redeemed. Well, God showed His power to do the impossible! And today, 2,000 years later, the Church, the Body of Christ, continues to be made of believers from whatever race of people and whatever social status they may have. No one is exempt from God's family. BUT, each person who would seek to enter God's kingdom must understand they can only enter through one door, and that is Christ Jesus. John 10:9, "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved..." NKJV
Ephesians 3:3-5 NLT - "As I briefly wrote earlier, God Himself revealed His mysterious plan to me. As you read what I have written, you will understand my insight into this plan regarding Christ. God did not reveal it to previous generations, but now by His Spirit He has revealed it to His holy apostles and prophets."
Paul reminds his readers that he had touched on this subject back in chapter 1. Remember, a "mystery" in the Bible refers to information not yet revealed to others. What Paul has heard from the Spirit has to do with Christ. He makes special mention that the Lord did not reveal these things to those in Old Testament times. But God has made these plans known to the apostles and prophets of Paul's day. And this should cause us to want to learn what this mystery is about and how it will affect us since we belong to Christ.
Paul was privileged to watch the unfolding of God's plan in the very events of his day. And he was able to help believers get an understanding of what they were seeing happen in before their eyes.
Ephesians 3:2 NLT - "...assuming, by the way, that you know God gave me the special responsibility of extending His grace to you Gentiles."
Obviously connected with the preceding verse Paul is wanting the Gentiles to realize that the benefit received from his being in prison is that he sacrificed his freedom to tell them that God extended His grace to them so they, too, could be saved! Many times he was warned not to preach in the name of Jesus. But Paul took this as a responsibility before God, not only to please the Lord but to also make sure the Gentiles had the chance to hear this wonderful message. What sacrifices are we willing to make in order that others can have the chance to hear the good news? Are we willing to lose our freedom in order to spread the Gospel? Probably that wouldn't be an issue yet anyway, here in America, but there are other sacrifices we might be called upon to make. How about risking the ridicule for talking about Jesus where you work or in school? How about the time you might have to give to see someone in need, not only to talk with them, but perhaps to do something for them so they would be interested to hear what you have to say? Do you see this as a "responsibility" before the Lord? Remember the 3 "I ams" of Paul in Romans 1:14-16: "I am a debtor," "I am ready," and "I am not ashamed" of the Gospel. Do you sense an obligation (debt) to share the Gospel with others? Are you ready to do so? Or, are you too ashamed to speak up for Christ?
Ephesians 3:1 NLT - "When I think of all this, I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus for the benefit of you Gentiles..."
At the time of writing this letter Paul was in prison, one of his experiences of "suffering" for Christ. He knew from the early days of his Christian life that he would be persecuted for the cause of Christ. He didn't shy away from that but recognized what he would say in II Timothy, "All those who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." And he was willing to do so because it meant that he was fighting for souls in the "enemies' territory." Satan will do all he can to hinder the preaching of the Gospel to the lost. And he will seek to kill or at least imprison those who seek to do so. Paul knew it was because he preached to the Gentiles that he was especially hated by the Jewish authorities who thought the Gentiles were too vile to be saved. So even if it meant imprisonment, Paul would do all he could to give these "vile sinners" the opportunity to hear about Christ and be gloriously saved and transformed. That's why he knew he was in prison "for the benefit of your Gentiles." What would you be willing to endure so others could hear about our Savior?
Ephesians 2:22 NLT - "Through Him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by His Spirit."
We were born into a human family where we immediately belonged. As we grew we learned by experience that we had parents and most likely siblings that were a part of our lives and where we felt a part of theirs. We belonged! What a great feeling that is! In this verse Paul makes it very clear that Christ has made us a part of God's dwelling place! God has prepared a home for us and that home is where He lives! And its your home too!
Do you feel a sense of "belonging" to Christ? Do you feel that amongst His people? Do you make an effort to help other believers feel that sense as well? That's what Paul is doing - he is making us feel we belong to Christ. We're a part of Him and His family and He and His family are a part of us! Enjoy your security in Him!
Ephesians 2:21 NLT - "We are carefully joined together in Him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord."
Think about how God created man in the Garden of Eden. He was meticulous in His work giving man, and later, woman, bodies that would function perfectly, each part intertwined with the whole to make the body exactly as He designed. The Body of Christ, the Church, is no less "carefully joined together"! Every Jew and every Gentile believer are placed in the body exactly as God designed, each with gift(s) that would benefit the whole. And as Paul points out, this "body", which he called it in verse16, and a "house," which he called it in verse 20, is also described in this verse as a "temple for the Lord." Later in 1 Corinthians 6:19 Paul would stress that our bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit to indwell. A temple is not only a place for God to be worshiped, but even more it is a dwelling place for God to live! And you and I are "temples" within that temple! God lives in us - Galatians 2:20!
Ephesians 2:20 NLT - "Together, we are His house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus Himself."
The unity of believers is essential to God's plan in building one Church made up of all peoples who put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The Church is referred here to God's house, not a building of brick and cement, but a spiritual household of all Christians joined as a living organism. Christ, being the Cornerstone of the structure, sets the standard by which the building is erected. God Himself is the Architect and Creator of this "structure". Note also that the foundation is the preaching and teaching of God's ministers, both the apostles and the prophets. God gave them the privilege of presenting the facts of Christ and His finished work at Calvary. This building rests on rock-solid Truth and as Jesus put it, "The gates of hell will not prevail against it!" Matthew 16:18 KJV.
Ephesians 2:19 NLT - "So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God's holy people. You are members of God's family."
You ever wonder about repetition? Over and over again in chapter one and here in chapter two Paul has been reminding God's people that they belong to God and to each other. And Paul especially reminds the Gentiles that they are no longer "outcasts" but are welcome as citizens of God's Kingdom and members of God's family! Isn't a great joy to know "you belong"! So many people have grown up feeling they just didn't fit in with the "in crowd" but God basically says, "don't worry about what others think, I accept you as My own!" And Christian, let's remember that we are God's ambassadors not only to the lost but also to the saved! Our job with other believers is to make them feel welcome in God's family. And Christian, if for one reason or another you feel unaccepted by other believers, you ARE ACCEPTED to God. And His acceptance is what really matters!
Ephesians 2:18 NLT - "Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us."
See the Trinity in this verse? We can come directly to the Father - no human intermediary needed. Even as a Pastor I need to help Christians understand that they have access to the Lord at His throne of grace just as any pastor or missionary might. Also, it is the Holy Spirit who aids us in our coming to the Father in prayer. He aids us in our praying but He also gives us the assurance that we are welcome in God's presence. And how is this possible? Because of what Christ has done for us - He cleansed and forgave us; He declared us righteous in His sight; and He brought us to His Father.
Let's not overlook the fact that Paul is speaking to both Jews and Gentiles. He emphasizes "all of us" can come to God. And we all come through the Holy Spirit. Read Acts 11:15 and notice how the Jews were surprised that the Holy Spirit came down on Gentiles just as He did on the Jews.
You can come to the Father because Jesus saved you and the Holy Spirit is always eager to bring you into God's presence!
Ephesians 2:17 NLT - "He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from Him, and peace to the Jews who were near."
Christ came preaching the Gospel, the Good News about Himself and His plan to redeem mankind and reconcile them to the Father. This Good News had an impact on both believing Gentiles and believing Jews. For the Gentile, the great truth they were coming to understand was that they were welcome into God's presence when they put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. This was having peace with God, and this especially touched the Gentile who were made painfully aware that they were far from God.
This same Good News impacted the Jew by showing them that simply calling one's self a Jew didn't make them right with God. Just because they were "near" to the truth wasn't going to save them. They, too, needed to trust Jesus Christ to be their Savior and Messiah. Knowing the truth is not the same as putting your faith in the Living Truth, Jesus!
Daily commentary and insight from Pastor Eckardt.
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Mt Ephraim Baptist Church | 25 S. Black Horse Pike | Mt Ephraim, NJ 08059
Senior Pastor, Stephen A. Eckardt | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone: 856.981.7288