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« Themes of Ephesians Chapter Four | Main | Themes of Ephesians: Chapter One »

Themes of Ephesians: Chapter Three

Living with Purpose 

1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6 That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

  • Paul recognized that the misfortunes of his life were for a purpose .
  • The special relationship Paul had with the Gentiles was by the grace of God.
  • The revelation came through the incident on the road to Damascus . (Acts 9.)
  • The Bible speaks of several mysteries. One of the greatest mysteries is the inclusion of the Gentiles in the eternal plan of God. This seems like a moot point to us today, but to people raised in deep prejudice, it was enormous.

The Mystery of the Gentiles :

25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. (Romans 11:25)(Also Ephesians 1:9-10).

The Mystery of the Resurrection :

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

The Mystery of Godliness :

16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

(Also, the mystery of iniquity, the mystery of the church, the mystery of Christ and the mysteries of Revelation.)

7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

The ministry was not a career choice . It was not under Paul’s control. He reverenced his calling and acknowledged that it was the result of the grace and the power of God.

One of the most dangerous concepts you can adopt is that you are your own person. This is where spiritual freedom conflicts with political freedom.

  • Political freedom says you are free to do or be anything you desire . Spiritual freedom says you are free to choose between right and wrong.
  • Political freedom says you are your own boss . Spiritual freedom says you can decide between God and mammon.
  • Political freedom means asserting yourself . Spiritual freedom means submitting yourself.

24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:24.

Paul also illustrates humility in his submission to God. When he says that he was less than the least of all saints, he was not saying that he was not as capable as others, but that— because of his history of persecuting the church—he had no right to be who he was.

  • Pride is not thinking you are better than others. That’s arrogance or conceit.
  • Pride is the assumption of rights and privileges.
  • Humility does not mean humiliation or to become a doormat .
  • Humility is recognizing that you are a recipient of the grace of God.

6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. James 4:2.

9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

This is a profound overview of the entire drama of redemption . The salvation of the Jews and Gentiles was not an afterthought, but has been hidden in God since the beginning of the world. God intended for the church to

The church illustrates the abundant wisdom of God to the whole world. We are not secondary to the plan of God. We are the primary purpose of God.

11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: 12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. 13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.

The Ephesians were shaken by the imprisonment of Paul. “If God has this great plan for us, why is our leader in jail? It looks like God has no power at all.”

Do not become so immersed in your personal trials and tribulations that you become disconnected (feint) with the purpose of God.

Everything is for a purpose . Blessings, afflictions, prosperity, adversity, sickness, wellness, wealth, poverty, good things, bad things…put it all into the context of God’s purpose.

26  Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:26-28.

14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of 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 by his Spirit in the inner man;

The inner man is the focal point. Whether or not your inner man is affected by the circumstances of life is up to you. The more importance you place on the outer man, the less influence the inner man will have in your life.

How do you know whether you are paying too much attention to the outer man? Clothes, beauty, pleasure, possessions, prestige, status, comfort, ambition, ownership, wealth—-these are all objectives of the outer man.

The inner man desires the fruit of the Spirit , obedience to the will of God and the pleasure of God without regard to the wants of the outer man.

17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

There is no greater ambition nor higher calling than to be in partnership with God.

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. I Timothy 6:6-11

17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. I Timothy 6:17-19.

20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

The goals of a person usually conform to the ideals with which they associate in their formative years or in their environment. This scripture teaches us that God lifts us up out of our confines and turns our dreams into realities.

The Gentiles never considered themselves to be in the same league with the Jews. The Jews were God’s chosen people. This scripture removes the barriers of race, heritage, class, caste and any other artificial wall of separation between a believer and the promises of God.

11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:11-13.

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