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Sunday February 1st 2009
To the Church of Ephesus ? Part Four
1). Eph 1:1 ? Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who
are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:
a). The letter to the Ephesians, written by Paul whilst imprisoned in Rome
between 60 and 62AD, is addressed to the saints there, ?and faithful in Christ
b). All the eternally saved in Ephesus were the recipients of this letter, but its
content would be for those who would be faithful. The letter contains that which
God required them all to know, and by extension all those who are eternally saved
throughout this dispensation, but it is those who are faithful ? those who take that
which is written in this letter and put it into practice throughout the course of their
pilgrim journey who will then be revealed as overcomers at the Judgment Seat.
c). It is because the Spirit of God, through the pen of Paul, has the faithful
alone in view that He writes verses 6 -7 of Chapter 2 without any distinction based
on faithfulness - Eph 2:6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the
heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the
exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
d). At first glance, or if taken out of context, these two verses can appear all
inclusive ? addressed to all Christians based solely on the fact that they are
Christians, but this can never be ? only those ?faithful in Christ Jesus? will
experience the reality of this placement during the 7th Day ? we will remember the
5 foolish virgins, the unfaithful servant, the wedding guest et al. If we compare
scripture with scripture this becomes abundantly clear.
2). The focus of the content of Chapters 1 and 2 is the 7th Day ? the coming
Kingdom of the Christ - in which the purpose for Man?s creation will be realized
for those who are faithful - Eph 1:10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the
times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in
heaven and which are on earth--in Him. 11 In Him also we have obtained an
inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all
things according to the counsel of His will,
a). Heb 2:5 ? For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in
subjection to angels.
b). Chapter 1 deals with the 7th Day from the broad scope of God?s purpose
for the ages in order that we should keep ever before us that which God has
repeated time and again in the scriptures so that we should not drift away from it.
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c). Heb 2:1 ? Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we
have heard, lest we drift away.
d). Contextually, within the scope of the Book of Hebrews, ?the things we
have heard? refer to seven O/T quotations that deal specifically with Christ in His
coming glory which are detailed for us in the first Chapter of that Book ?
Heb 1:8 But to the Son He says: "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A
scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom.
e). The very thing of course, Christ in His coming glory, that is the subject
of our first chapter here in Ephesians.
f). And the very substance of our calling - Heb 3:1 ? Therefore, holy
brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling,
g).That which has been guaranteed by the sealing of the Holy Spirit ?
Eph 1:13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of
your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy
Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption
of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
h). Guarantee = Greek ? ?arrhabon? = of Hebrew origin (6162); a pledge, i.e.
part of the purchase-money or property given in advance as security for the rest:--
i). And the overwhelming surety of God?s purpose laid out in this Chapter is
to encourage and engender faithfulness in those who receive it. Those who would
be ?faithful in Christ Jesus?.
j). Then Chapter 2 deals with the same subject, Christ in His coming glory,
for the same purpose, to encourage and engender faithfulness, only here from a
more individual standpoint - Eph 2:1 ? And you He made alive, who were dead in
trespasses and sins,
k). Focusing on what God has done and made possible for us personally ?
Eph 2:11 ? Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh--who are
called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by
hands-- 12 that at that time you 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 you who once were
far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
l). The Chapter then ends with statements about our present position within
the ?household of God? and allusion to the process of our spiritual maturation
through the metaphor of building, again something that can only apply to the
faithful - Eph 2:19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but
fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having
been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself
being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being joined together,
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grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together
for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
l). In summary then we see the enormity and the surety of God?s plan for
redeemed Man detailed on a grand scale in Ephesians Chapter 1and personalized
through the detail surrounding the purpose for our salvation in Chapter 2 ? all
within the remit of those who would be ?faithful in Christ Jesus?. A tremendous
encouragement in and of itself to continue in faithful obedience.
3). When considering how incredible God?s purpose is - Ro 4:13 For the promise
that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through
the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
a). And that we have the certainty and the veracity of God?s promise
guaranteed through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives it would seem of little
wonder that our third Chapter begins with the words - Eph 3:1 ? For this reason
b). In order to discover where Paul is going with this thought we have to
move directly from v1 to v14 where the opening phrase is repeated, picking up the
thought from the first verse, with additional information now added to it ?
Eph 3:14 ? For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
c). Reason = Greek ? ?charin? ? from ? ?charis? = graciousness (as
gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual;
especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life;
including gratitude):--acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace(- ious), joy, liberality,
pleasure, thank(-s, -worthy).
d). Between the beginning of the thought in v1, ?For this reason?-
?concerning this favor?- and the conclusion of the thought beginning with, ?I bow
my knees? in v14 comes a parenthetical discourse on Paul?s ministry with regards
to the ?mystery? that was revealed to him.
e). In which he sets out his credentials as an Apostle and makes clear God?s
purpose in calling him to that high office.
4). Eph 3:1 ? For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles-
- 2 if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was
given to me for you,
a). Paul is, ?the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles? using the fact of
his imprisonment in Rome to underscore his being bound to, or a bondservant of,
Christ Jesus for the sake of the Gentiles ? those non-Jews who would believe on
the Lord Jesus Christ and become part of ?the one new man?. God?s work through
Paul, detailed here in Chapter 3, further demonstrates ?His kindness towards us in
Christ Jesus? and brings us right back to the focus and the purpose that have been
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the subject of Chapters 1-2 ? the setting out of God?s plan for ?the dispensation of
the fullness of the times?, with a view to our faithfulness with respect to it.
b). Paul had been given, by God - ?Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will
of God? - ?the dispensation? or the stewardship of the grace of God so that through
his ministry, by faith, believing Gentiles would become the seed of Abraham and
?heirs according to the promise?.
c). Ga 2:9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars,
perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the
right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the
d). The grace of God that was given to Paul is with regards to the revelation
of ?the mystery? - Eph 3:3 how that by revelation He made known to me the
mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may
understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ),
e). The revelation of ?the mystery of Christ? to Paul began upon the
Damascus road - Ac 9:17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and
laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to
you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be
filled with the Holy Spirit." 18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like
scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized. 19 So
when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with
the disciples at Damascus. 20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the
synagogues, that He is the Son of God.
f). God then built upon this foundational experience and Paul?s knowledge
of the scriptures with 3 years of presumably face to face teaching by the Lord
Himself while Paul was in Arabia ? Ga 1:15 But when it pleased God, who
separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, 16 to
reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not
immediately confer with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those
who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to
Damascus.18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and
remained with him fifteen days.
g). The mystery which was revealed to Paul, according to Ephesians 3:3 he
had ?briefly written already? ? and is referred to in v4 as ?the mystery of Christ?
and would therefore reference that which had previously been stated in Chapters 1
and 2. Things concerning God?s plans and purposes for the ages by and for His
Son with the grafting in of the Gentiles into one body, the ?one new man?, as part
of that plan ? just as we see in ? Ro 11:17 And if some of the branches were broken
off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them
became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against
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the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but
the root supports you. 19 You will say then, "Branches were broken off that I might
be grafted in." 20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you
stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural
branches, He may not spare you either.
h). Here in Romans we see issues of faithfulness and unfaithfulness also.
Firstly in respect to Israel, the branches that were broken off, and secondly with
respect to ourselves if we follow their example of unbelief ? ?He may not spare
4). Verse 5 of Ephesians 3 then continues - Eph 3:5 which in other ages [lit.
generations] 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,
7 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.
a). And here in v6 we see ?the mystery? in an nutshell - 6 that the Gentiles
should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ
through the gospel,
b). ?The mystery? of course is not something that was unknown, but rather
something that had remained hidden until the appropriate time for its revelation.
c). Mystery = Greek ? ?musterion? = from a derivative of muo (to shut the
mouth); a secret or "mystery" (through the idea of silence imposed by initiation
into religious rites):--mystery.
d). That we should be, ?partakers of His promise in Christ?, would take us
again to the ?covenants of promise?, spelled out, as we have already seen in ?
Ro 4:13 For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to
Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
And - Ga 3:29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs
according to the promise.
e). Now of necessity when dealing with the unsaved the gospel of grace
would have to be presented first, but given the content of the gospel Paul writes
about in v6 ? ?fellow heirs of the same body and partakers of His promise in
Christ? ? this would have to be referring to the gospel of the glories of Christ. It is
through this gospel that the secret, the mystery, is revealed.
f). And it is through faithful obedience to that which is revealed through the
gospel of the glories of Christ that we may be ?partakers of His promise in Christ?
Jas 1:21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive
with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be
doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
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g). It is of this gospel, the gospel of the glories of Christ, that Paul became a
minister, literally a servant ? not through his own choosing but, ?according to the
gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power?.
5). Paul is an apostle by the will of God - Ac 9:15 But the Lord said to him, "Go,
for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the
children of Israel.
a). And this is according to the gift of the grace of God - he then continues in
v8 - Eph 3:8 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;
b). Paul, in genuine humility, considers himself to be ?less than the least of
all the saints? ? presumably because of his previous persecution of the Church.
c). And there are two things we should take heart from in this ? firstly ? by
considering the reality of that which Paul preached after his conversion on the
Damascus road witnessed by a complete turnaround from his previous position -
Ac 9:21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, "Is this not he who destroyed
those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose,
so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?" 22 But Saul increased all
the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving
that this Jesus is the Christ.
d). And secondly ? ?the effective working of His power? in Paul. If the one
who persecuted the Church could be so radically changed by the power of God,
then that same power is able to work in us to bring about radical changes in our
lives. This is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead ? The power of the
Spirit ? active in our lives through the Word - Eph 1:19 and what is the exceeding
greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His
mighty power20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead
and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
e). This grace was given to Paul that he ?should preach among the Gentiles
the unsearchable riches of Christ?, that all should see, ?what is the fellowship of the
mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God?.
f). We can understand this by looking at a companion scripture in ?
Col 1:25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God
which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, 26 the mystery which has
been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His
saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of
this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him
we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may
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present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. 29 To this end I also labor, striving
according to His working which works in me mightily.
g). Here then are the ?unsearchable riches of Christ? ? it is ?Christ in you the
hope of glory? ? something described from another perspective in - 1Co 2:9 But as
it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of
man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him." 10 But God has
revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the
deep things of God.
This is unsearchable because it is given by revelation, ?through His Spirit?, it is
born from above. And ?has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now
has been revealed to His saints?. And how this revelation to His saints has come to
pass we have already seen in - Eph 3:5 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
h). And this has come at a specific time for a specifically stated purpose ?
Eph 3:10 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,
i). ?The manifold wisdom of God? ? that concerning His plans and purposes
by and for His Son with regards to redeemed Man, specifically with regards to the
grafting in of the Gentiles into ?the one new man? for the purpose of replacing the
incumbent heavenly rulers, has been contained in scripture from the beginning ?
Heb 1:1 ? God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the
fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He
has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;
j). The very same thing spoken by the prophets has been spoken by the Son
and then those appointed by the Son - Heb 2:3 how shall we escape if we neglect so
great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was
confirmed to us by those who heard Him,
k). This is what the scripture records with regards to that spoken by the
prophets in respect of the ?mystery? - 1Pe 1:10 ? Of this salvation the prophets
have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would
come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who
was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ
and the glories that would follow. 12 To them it was revealed that, not to
themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been
reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy
Spirit sent from heaven--things which angels desire to look into.
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6). That concerning ?the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow?,
recorded in the writings of the prophets, beginning with Moses, began to be
revealed to those who would preach the gospel ?by the Holy Spirit sent from
heaven? on the day of the Lord?s resurrection - Lu 24:25 Then He said to them, "O
foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26
"Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?"
27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the
Scriptures the things concerning Himself????.. 44 Then He said to them,
"These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things
must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the
Psalms concerning Me." 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might
comprehend the Scriptures.
a). And whose understanding was opened ?that they might comprehend the
scriptures? His disciples, those who would be the foundation of His Church ? And
this would of necessity be the same revelation given to Paul following the
b). So why was the ?mystery of Christ?, the ?manifold wisdom of God? kept
secret until after the Lord?s resurrection? Quite simply because it is through the
Lord?s resurrection that ?the mystery?, our hope, is realized - 1Pe 1:3 ? Blessed be
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant
mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus
Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does
not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God
through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
c). The death and shed blood of the Lord on the cross of Calvary assures
eternal salvation for those who believe, who are ?begotten again?, but issues related
to a living hope, an inheritance and a future salvation all come ?through the
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead?. And it is for this reason that the hope is
only revealed following the resurrection ? because without the resurrection there
would be no hope, the ?mystery of Christ? could not be revealed, there could be no
7th Day - 1Co 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom
which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of
this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
d). That which had been hidden for generations from Man was also hidden
for ages from angels ? particularly the ?rulers of this age?.
e). But following the Lord?s resurrection and the inception of the Church,
the ?manifold wisdom of God? is being made known to the ?principalities and
powers?, the ?rulers of this age?, in the heavenly places, by the very fact of the
existence of those who are called out of this world to have an inheritance in
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f). But let us realize that this is not only a reference to the ?church? in a
generic sense, that is all Christians, although the creation of the ?one new man? for
the purpose of rulership just as with Adam and Jacob is hugely significant ? it is
also, most particularly, those who will be ?the called out? at the Judgment Seat,
those who have been ?faithful in Christ Jesus? who are looking to the 7th Day and
the reward of the inheritance, rather than just eternity.
g). From the moment that the first Christian, whoever that may have been,
who suffered with Christ so as to be a joint heir with Him completed their race of
faith successfully, waiting now to be approved, the message of the gospel of the
glories of Christ has been resounding loudly in the heavenly places ? the
declaration of the manifold wisdom of God in its purpose, in its intent and in its
completion is rising to a crescendo with each redeemed individual who has fought
the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith.
h). If all of this does not move in our hearts to inspire us to faithfulness then
we are probably already dead.
7). And still with the manifold wisdom of God in view, v12 draws our attention to
another facet of that wisdom - Eph 3:12 in whom we have boldness and access with
confidence through faith in Him.
a). A reference to the present High Priestly ministry of Christ on behalf of
the eternally saved - Heb 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot
sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet
without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may
obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
b). Sin will always preclude us from rulership and although eternally saved
and delivered from the bondage of sin we still have a sin nature and continue to
make poor choices. But God in His wisdom has provided a way for the sins of the
redeemed to be dealt with through the present work of His Son on our behalf as we
confess and repent - 1Jo 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we
have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses
us from all sin. 8 ? If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the
truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our
sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
c). And this we do by faith.
8). And here, with all we have just looked at in view, we return to the words that
began the Chapter - Eph 3:1 ? For this reason - Eph 3:14 ? 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
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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.
a). Here we see Paul bowing his knees ?to the Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ?, firstly as an act of complete submission to the will and purpose of God
both with regards to the 7th Day and also his appointment as an apostle, and
secondly in prayer for those to whom God had made him a minister.
b). Within the context of God?s plans and purpose for the ages, and within
the context of what God has done and made possible for us individually, and
within the context of the wrath of the enemy of our soul now that the manifold
wisdom of God is being made known by the church it is Paul?s prayer and thereby
God?s desire that we would, ?be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the
inner man?. To the effect that we would be ?faithful in Christ Jesus?.
c). Strengthened = Greek ? ?krataioo? = to empower, i.e. (passively)
increase in vigor:--be strengthened, be (wax) strong.
d). Might = Greek ? ?dunamis? = force (literally or figuratively); specially,
miraculous power (usually by implication, a miracle itself):--ability, abundance,
meaning, might(-ily, -y, -y deed), (worker of) miracle(-s), power, strength,
violence, mighty (wonderful) work.
e). And surely this should be our prayer for each other also as we continue
our race of faith and engage in the spiritual warfare.
f). We will continue with this prayer next time.