Daily Devotional: Ephesians 3:1-13

Paul calls the inclusion of the gentiles into God’s kingdom people by the proclamation of the gospel a mystery that was not revealed until Christ. Even though Paul is a great sinner, he gets to proclaim the unfathomable riches of Christ, administering the mystery that was hidden for so long—the gospel for the gentiles.

We understand, this mystery was not hidden from the Jews. The prophets foretold the inclusion of the gentiles from God’s promise to Abraham to bless all people through him to Isaiah’s clear statement that the gentile nations will have peace with God and be called God’s people (cf. Isaiah 19:22-25; 57:19). But, it was hidden from the gentiles until Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Not even Christ, in person, told many gentiles about this fulfillment of God’s word (cf. Matthew 15:24). This process was in accordance with God’s eternal purpose, which He carried out in Christ. What is God’s eternal purpose according to Paul? It is His own glory (cf. 1:6, 14; 2:7, 9). For His glory, it was fitting to call a nation, become incarnate, and then include the gentiles—so that we could not rightly boast except for in Him.

In this passage, we learn a few things. First of all, God uses the least of all people. Paul is the least of the saints—someone who persecuted the church before his conversion. In several of his passages, we sense that he still struggles greatly against sin and feels unworthy to accomplish the task God has set before him. Yet, he is the apostle to the gentiles. Whether school, work, church, or standing before God according to the calling he has placed on our lives, we often feel unworthy and incapable. Our paths depend not on our wills but God’s. We are His creation in Christ Jesus, not our own. If God calls and gifts through His spirit, we need not fear service according to our gifts. The church needs to encourage the spiritual gifts it sees present in people whether or not they seem “qualified.” I know this truth from Scripture and experience. God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called. If someone is called to deacon, God will grant that person the character qualifications used to determine who shall be deacons. If someone is called to pastor, God will grant that person the character qualifications used to determine who shall pastor (cf. 1 Timothy 3). Though I am ordained by people and in a denomination, that ordination means nothing as compared to the ordination of the Holy Spirit—which is infinitely more important and recognizable by spiritual gifts and qualifications. Every humble person will feel unworthy and inadequate but will work hard to the glory of God in any arena of life and in any area of service, whether “secular” or “sacred.”

Also, Christ is unsearchable and His riches are unfathomable. If anyone is to know Him, He must reveal Himself—which He did in the First Century AD. It is now through the church that the manifold wisdom of God is now known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. Paul, here, identifies the ruling of Christ on the earth as through the church. Therefore, the church age is the kingdom age. We are the hands and feet of Christ. We are the ones who preach the word to the glory of God and the edification of people. We are the ones through whom Christ is renewing the earth according to the riches of His glory and grace.

For this reason, Paul encourages the saints. Do no lose heart because of any tribulations. They are your glory. Those who are leading change in the world for the good of all people always experience tribulation. If we are following Christ according to His purpose in the gospel, we will also find tribulation in this world.

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