VI. The Multifaceted Wisdom of God on Display (Ephesians 3:1-13)
VI. The Multifaceted Wisdom of God on Display (3:1-13)
3:1 Paul begins to explain the application of what he has discussed in chapter 2. For this reason, he says. But then he pauses. It dawns on him that he hasn’t milked his subject yet. He has more to say. In verse 14, he’ll pick up where he left off when he repeats, “for this reason.” Before that, though, verses 2-13 function as if in parenthesis. Paul is overwhelmed by this thing called the family of God made up of people from every background and every race. Before he discusses how spiritually rich believers are (3:14-21), he wants to make sure they know who they are (3:2-13).
3:2-6 Paul had been given the administration of God’s grace (3:2). God gave Paul a stewardship, something to manage. Here that grace that God gave Paul for the Gentiles is called the mystery of Christ, which God had made known to Paul by revelation (3:3-4). This “mystery” is a sacred secret that was not understood previously but was made known to God’s holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit (3:5). The content of the mystery is this: The Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and partners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (3:6).
God broke down the division between Jews and Gentiles, ending years of hostility. Through the gospel, both have been brought into one body of Christ, reconciled to one another. They are fellow partakers of grace, on equal footing before God. If you’ve been brought into God’s family through the blood of Christ, the color of your skin doesn’t matter. Regardless of your race, you get the same spiritual DNA given to every other believer planted within you by the Spirit as soon as you are born into the family of God. We have the same Father and sit at the same table. Once you come into the body of Christ, you come as an equal. There are no insignificant people in God’s army.
3:7-8 Paul was made a servant of this gospel by God’s grace and through the working of his power (2:7). That grace and power were so mighty that Paul, the former confident Pharisee (see Phil 3:4-6), considered himself the least of all the saints (Eph 3:8). When Mr. Big Stuff met Jesus, he shrunk in size. Here Paul calls himself a prisoner of Christ Jesus (3:1). But though writing from prison, Paul knows he is no prisoner of man. When you’re in the will of God, the negative circumstances of your life happen with God’s purposes in mind. And God’s purpose was that “the least” of the saints would proclaim the incalculable riches of Christ (3:8).
3:9-10 These incalculable riches are made known as Paul exposes the mystery hidden for ages in God (3:9). Why reveal this mystery? So that God’s multi-faceted wisdom may now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavens (3:10). God’s glorious wisdom is multicolored, multidimensional. And through the church, it’s on display to the spiritual world order—for the beings in the heavenly places (and their human counterparts).
The church is like a prism displaying the rich colors of God’s manifold wisdom. It’s a microcosm of the kingdom, an expression in history of the glory of eternity. God is teaching the angelic realm—both good angels and demons, as well as their human representatives—his wisdom as he brings together sinners from every tribe, tongue, and nation into one heavenly community called the church. And no doubt the righteous angels stare at this in wonder (see 1 Pet 1:12), awaiting instructions on what heaven wants done in history through the church.
3:11-13 This eternal purpose of God has been accomplished in Christ so that in him we have boldness and confident access through faith in him (Eph 3:11-12). You can’t do that with human leaders. You can’t stroll into the office of the President of the United States, but through Jesus Christ, all believers can boldly and confidently come into the presence of God the Father—the Creator and sustainer of the universe. Thus, the Ephesians ought not be discouraged. Paul’s afflictions on their behalf are for their glory (3:13).
God is demonstrating the beauty of his program. He is stitching people from every race, every gender, and every ethnicity together into a beautiful work of art. The church, that masterpiece, is to demonstrate to the spiritual world and the physical world what God’s kingdom looks like. It is a demonstration to the angelic realm of God’s manifold wisdom. It is a demonstration to Satan of God’s victory and Satan’s defeat. It is a demonstration to the world of what it looks like when heavenly values operate in history.